By James Wilson – 30 October 2019
In Tokayev’s inauguration speech he stated his vision to uphold the national interests of Kazakhstan, to ensure the unity of society and protect the rights of every citizen.
He has been as good as his word. One of his earliest key actions as President was to establish in June a National Council of Public Confidence, to improve the public consultation process in Kazakhstan on public policy issues by discussing them with representatives of the public, political parties, civil society. The main tasks of the National Council are to conduct public examination of policy proposals, national state programmes and draft laws; to take into account the views of the public and civil society in determining strategy and to promote a constructive dialogue between representatives of the public, political parties, the non-governmental sector and the government.
The first meeting of the Council was held in the capital Nur Sultan on 6 September, and among the topics of concern on the agenda were: the inefficiency of the pension system, impunity for crimes against the individual, corruption, and the country’s low level of culture. Following the meeting
three working groups were created to oversee follow up action on social and cultural issues, on political issues and questions of the economy; their work is ongoing and Ambassador Kuspan told journalists that this was probably the single biggest achievement of the President in his first 100 days in office.
But he has since gone on to propose a massive work programme for the Presidential office. On September 2, 2019, President Tokayev delivered his first “State of the Nation” address to the people of Kazakhstan. In his speech, Tokayev promised to reduce inequality in Kazakhstan and improving the quality of life of Kazakh citizens. He focused on political and economic development, including support for micro, small and medium-sized businesses. He also outlined a number of foreign economic priorities for Kazakhstan, including continued support for the activities of the Astana International Financial Center, as Kazakhstan develops its financial sector and digital economy.
In terms of internal reforms, Tokayev has promised a “state that listens,” whose goal is to facilitate dialogue between civil society and the government. A major reform of the Ministry of the Interior will be implemented over the next three years, and a package of reforms will be undertaken to improve law and order including an increase in penalties for those who commit serious crimes. Improvements to the education system and protecting the rights of children will be given priority, as will the development of Kazakhstan’s clean water infrastructure and sanitation. Modernisation of the tax system is foreseen, and on January 1, 2020, Kazakhstan will launch a system of compulsory social health insurance, and a major budget increase will be allocated for the development of the healthcare system.
The State of the Nation address clearly underpins his ambition to be a strong President, firmly supported by an effective public consultation structure, and sets out a formidable programme of development for the country.
Kazakhstan has powerful and difficult neighbours, so it is not surprising that Tokayev took time during his first months of office to make six official visits to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, China, the USA, Armenia and Russia. Of particular interest were the bilateral memoranda and agreements signed between China and Kazakhstan, including an agreement on cooperation in the field of aviation search and rescue of civil aviation. Tokayev also took part in the UN General Assembly in September, and one of the promising areas of cooperation is the initiative to create in Almaty the UN Regional Center for the Strategic Development Goals (SDGs) for the countries of Central Asia and Afghanistan.
This is a good signal of the very positive contribution that Kazakhstan stands ready to make to promote multilateral cooperation and mutually beneficial partnership in Europe and Asia