A big step forward for Kazakhstan: President Tokayev's State of the Nation address will "undoubtedly affect the construction of a democratic society in Kazakhstan only in a positive way."

On September 1st, 2022, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev delivered his State of the Nation address: an impressive package of initiatives considered necessary for the development and democratisation of society.

In this regard, the leader of Kazakhstan is judged to have shown the qualities not only of a visionary strategist and politician, but also of a President who cares about his citizens and their collective futures.

He made an unprecedented decision by publishing the entire electoral schedule, thereby putting the interests of the nation above all: in the autumn of this year, extraordinary presidential elections will be held in the Republic on November 20th.

In addition, elections to the Majilis and Maslikhats of all levels will also be held in the first half of next year, and the country will receive a new composition of deputies representing the interests of broad groups of citizens. According to experts, this will allow the nation to focus on solving urgent and strategic tasks for its socio- economic development.

According to Kazakh political scientists the bringing forward of the entire election cycle is due to the need for a radical reset of the political system of Kazakhstan and fully corresponds to the logic of the constitutional reform supported by the majority of citizens at the referendum held in June on the adoption of amendments to the Constitution of Kazakhstan.

The growing geostrategic tension and turbulence of the world economy, as well as the unpredictability of the dynamics of the development of world processes, which multiply risks and challenges not only for individual states, but also for entire regions, are a significant factor in favour of holding early elections.

Another proposal was presented during Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s speech: to establish a limitation of the President’s mandate for one term of 7 years.

Such a political innovation, Kazakh political scientists noted, is unprecedented, being designed to stabilise the country’s political system in the long term, and most importantly to eliminate the risks of monopolisation of power and to strengthen the basic principles of democracy.

These and the measures taken earlier indicate that Kazakhstan is following the planned path of departure from the super-presidential model of power.

Thanks to these initiatives, all power in Kazakhstan will no longer be concentrated in the hands of one person: the Head of State must be non-partisan and unbiased: relatives cannot hold positions in state structures and state-owned companies, Presidential powers are devolved to other institutions of power.

Tokayev’s concept of a ‘listening state’ clearly works for Kazakhstan, as evidenced

by his message, which addresses both the problems and the aspirations of ordinary citizens. In particular, the President decided to raise the minimum wage, which will directly affect the incomes of 1.8 million Kazakhstanis.

Special attention is paid to water issues. It is well known that water scarcity is a serious obstacle to the sustainable development of the country’s economy. In this regard, it was proposed to revive the work of the Water Council under the Government with the involvement of educated specialists. Thus, the President was instructed to develop a three-year plan for the development of water management to train the necessary experts and determine a strong university in this area.

It is also planned to significantly reboot the pension system by consistently increasing the basic pension rate.

Until 2028, the retirement age for women will be fixed at the level of 61 years. Together with the previously adopted decisions, this will make it possible to increase the total pension by an average of 27% by 2025.

Caring for the elderly is an indicator not only of a leader who hears citizens voices, but also of the fact that ancient traditions of respect for elders are observed in Kazakhstan.

The country also cares about the new generation: the President highlights specifically the well-being of children.

Earlier, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared 2022 the Year of Children, and in this speech he launched a new program, the “National Fund for Children”, within which he proposed to deduct 50% of the annual investment income of the National Fund to special savings accounts of children under 18.

Upon reaching the age of majority, the accumulated amounts will be used to purchase housing and education. This will be a huge help to parents who do not have the opportunity to pay for a child’s education at a university.

A politician who responsibly approaches the leadership of the country understands that the education of young people should not be neglected - the future of the country depends on them. Therefore President Tokayev made the construction of new schools one of the priorities of the Government and the heads of regions, and expressed an excellent idea on this occasion, which was met with stormy applause from Government members.

All illegally obtained funds that come to the disposal of the state as a result of corruption trials should be spent on the construction of schools, - said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Today, this initiative is being vigorously discussed and supported by Kazakhstanis in social networks.

Higher education in the country will become more accessible, thanks to the allocation of educational grants differentiated in size – from 30 to 100% – depending on the results of the UNT and other indicators, as well as the provision of preferential loans for training at 2-3% per annum. With many international programs and under the right conditions, it is possible that now students will be more interested in a University education.

Another significant criterion is the health of the nation. Attention is now being paid to the comprehensive improvement of medical infrastructure, and a system of voluntary medical insurance will soon be launched. The system of training doctors is also being improved.

For example, multidisciplinary hospitals and clinics will be created at medical universities.

The country is amongst the ten largest nations by area, and with such distances it is currently difficult to reach every villager and to provide medical services to everyone.

Stressing that an important element of the well-being of citizens will be the creation of a unified system of targeted social assistance, the President of Kazakhstan said that for the participants of the social insurance system, unemployment benefit will increase to 45% of the average monthly income.

Kazakhstan has been actively and effectively fighting unemployment for several years, supporting the unemployed in every possible way in training, finding employment and starting their own business. Such measures prevent the appearance of strata of the population below the poverty line in the country.

Initiatives and startups from young people are especially welcome here. Proof of this is a separate mechanism of preferential microcredit at 2.5% per annum, which will soon be launched to support youth entrepreneurship.

The topic of reducing the participation of the state in judicial processes, increasing the independence of judges was touched upon. It is fundamentally important to eradicate the influence of law enforcement agencies by eliminating all tools of their administrative pressure on judges. At the same time, the culpability of the judges themselves for serious violations will be ensured.

At the same time K.Tokayev called for commitment to the ideas of the UN, a fair trial and humanism, expressing the opinion that participants in the events of “tragic January” have the right to a second chance. The President offers a one-time amnesty for them.

This amnesty will not apply to those involved in organising the riots, as well as those accused of treason and an attempt to forcibly change power. Recidivists, persons who have committed terrorist and extremist crimes, who have used torture will also not fall under the amnesty either. The rule of law, the President stressed, has not been abolished.

The State of the Nation address represents a major breakthrough, new and innovative ideas for opening a fundamentally new political turn in the history of the country.

Experts assure that these political initiatives comprehensively fill with real content the previously designated by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the key formula of state–building is “a strong President – an influential Parliament - an accountable Government.”

The new standards, including the utmost transparency in making the most important political decisions, constant updating, open competition, will "undoubtedly affect the construction of a democratic society in Kazakhstan only in a positive way."

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