Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 181

Coupled with proposals for political reform (see the Monitor, October 1), Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev outlined a new social content of economic policy in his televised national address on September 30. Criticizing past governments for their neglect of the real economy, Nazarbaev issued the guarantee that future “revenues from the economy will directly affect the population’s quality of life” (Reuters, September 30).

Specifically, Nazarbaev stated that his government will use US$300 million from a US$500-million oil contract bonus flowing from the major offshore contract signed in September jointly with Japanese company Inpex Nord and its U.S. partner Phillips Petroleum (see the Monitor, September 15, 22). According to Nazarbaev, the other US$200 million had already been transferred to the budget to help narrow its deficit. The remaining US$300 million will fund four major social areas: agricultural reform; heating and electricity assistance during the winter months; payment of late and pension arrears, and, measures to curb unemployment (Russian agencies, September 30; Panorama [Almaty], October 2).

All four areas have been sorely neglected in the years of reform. The current emphasis on state intervention and support dovetails with the new industrial policy outlined in recent weeks (see the Monitor, September 23). Social programs, emphasized in Nazarbaev’s 2030 presidential strategy, might also be designed to woo popular support in the run-up to the 2000 presidential elections. Because the government simultaneously plans to cut its budget expenditures by 60 billion tenge (US$750 million), finance for social support will rely heavily on foreign investment income. Kazakhstan will need to balance domestic demands for state intervention with foreign investor needs of continued liberal economic policies. At the first meeting of the Council of Foreign Investors last Friday, Nazarbaev expressed confidence that the 1998 level of direct per capita foreign investment would be on a par with that of 1997–which was surpassed amongst socialist successor states only by Hungary. According to Anvar Saidenov, director of the State Committee of Foreign Investment, between 1993 and 1997 Kazakhstan attracted over US$7 billion in direct investment. –SC