President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s Address at the opening of the first session of the Parliament of the VIII convocation
March 29, 2023
Dear Participants of the Session!
In accordance with Article 59 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan I declare the first session of the Parliament of the VIII convocation.
Dear Members of Parliament!
I congratulate you on the opening of the first session of the new Parliament! I would like to wish the elected members of parliament (deputies) fruitful work! I am certain that you will make a meaningful contribution to the development of our country and the protection of national interests.
Exactly one year ago, delivering my Address to the people of Kazakhstan from this rostrum at a critically important moment in the history of the country, I put forward a large-scale program of political modernization. Last year's referendum clearly demonstrated widespread support for the proposed initiatives. We therefore began the process of transformation with full determination.
Considerable work has been done over the last year. The constitutional reform enabled us to carry out a complete reset of the political system. The President is now elected for only one seven-year term. The powers and functions of Parliament have been reviewed, and the role of deputies has been strengthened. The Constitutional Court has been established. The judicial system underwent drastic reforms. Work on the protection of human rights and freedoms acquired a new format.
The opportunities for citizens' participation in the political life of the country were significantly expanded. Our reforms are based on the formula "a strong President – an influential Parliament – an accountable Government", which is the basis of our state system.
Following the referendum, guided by the requirements of the renewed Constitution, we launched a large-scale transformation of all institutions of power. This is also in line with the aspirations of all the people of Kazakhstan. In accordance with the amendments to the Constitution, a presidential election was held, as well as elections to the Senate, the Mazhilis and maslikhats (local representative bodies).
Five election campaigns, including a referendum, took place in less than a year. All of them came during a very important period. Despite all the challenges, we have managed to pass a very important stage in the life of the country in a short period of time. People experienced changes taking place in all spheres of life.
Numerous self-nominated candidates participated in the recent elections in single-mandate districts along with party candidates. Therefore, the people of Kazakhstan have shown their willingness to contribute to the ongoing changes. A new civic and political culture is taking shape in society today. I express my gratitude to all our compatriots who took an active part in the elections.
Indeed, the current election campaign was significantly different from the previous ones. The elections took place in an atmosphere of high competitiveness and openness. The media widely covered the campaign and the process of voting. According to domestic and foreign observers, all parties and candidates were presented with equal opportunities. No political organization had an advantage.
The president was not a member of any party, and akims (mayors) were not heads of party branches. There were no high-ranking state officials on party lists. Therefore, the elections provided equal opportunities for all parties. Both voters and candidates showed active participation.
There was vigorous competition between political parties for votes in every corner of the country. There were several intense and informative live debates between party representatives. This is the standard practice in a democratic society. All of this indicated the strengthening of an open civil society in Kazakhstan.
In the course of the election campaign, constructive criticism and sensible initiatives were expressed. We will certainly analyze all major proposals. The results of these elections were unpredictable due to their high competitiveness. They showed that our country has taken an important step toward a real multiparty system. As Head of State, I believe the new Mazhilis reflects the entire range of ideological views.
For the first time, a party which had long been in opposition is represented in Parliament. This was made possible thanks to large-scale political reforms and liberalization of legislation governing party registration. Henceforth, the parties will be at the forefront of the political processes that will determine the future of our country.
The election of deputies in single-mandate districts created the possibility for the interests of various social groups to be represented in the Mazhilis. For the first time in many years, deputies who were self-nominated and managed to beat party nominees in a fierce competition have gained seats in parliament. As such, democratic traditions in our country have been significantly strengthened and reached a completely new level.
The citizens witnessed that all political forces were given equal opportunities. As you know, supporting young people has always been a priority for me. I have always highlighted that it is progressive-minded and educated young people who should work in government.
To actively involve the younger generation in the affairs of state is one of the most important tasks. Young people must bring new values to society. Many young candidates united during the election campaign and created their own bloc. The most active members of the bloc were elected to Parliament and maslikhats. Thus, a new generation of politicians is joining the representative bodies of power.
Young people should assess this as a unique opportunity to work for the benefit of the country. Along with this, conditions were created for women and persons with special needs to enter the Mazhilis. The election campaign proved in practice that social elevators work, and every citizen can be elected to Parliament. This is how the formation of a just society takes place!
In addition, the recent elections demonstrated that the requirements for candidates have changed. They showed how important it was to establish close cooperation with the people. The candidates who realized this and were really close to the people became the electors of the people.
Voters cast their ballots for candidates who understood their needs and were able to defend their interests. In the age of advanced information technology, people closely follow everything that happens. Therefore, the responsibility of deputies to the country and the people has increased significantly. I am sure that the deputies gathered in this hall will show consciousness and wisdom and will work actively and fruitfully for the benefit of the interests of the country for the next five years.
This is another manifestation of the principle "The only source of state power is the people”. A high level of participation from citizens was witnessed at the last election, among them people with different views and positions. The people clearly demonstrated their aspirations, openness, and high political literacy.
Winning an election race requires many years of hard work, a sense of responsibility to the people and history. In short, only a long-term and systematic strategy can ensure success. The candidates who did not get enough votes have gained good practical experience and new opportunities. I urge all of you to work together in the interests of Kazakhstan. Only a nation with a truly strong spirit can accomplish such a significant task in just one year.
We have achieved a breakthrough in the development of our homeland and ushered in a new era in history. But this is not the end of the transformation. This is only the beginning of a long journey. The reforms aimed at improving the political system will continue. This is crucial.
This year, for the first time, direct elections will be held for akims of 45 districts and cities of regional significance. After that, we will conduct the elections of akims of districts across the country. As a result, all institutions of power will be updated.
Our journey towards democratization of political processes and further increase in citizens' participation in public administration will continue. We should all understand that Kazakhstan is the only country in the geopolitical region undertaking such profound reforms. Some citizens, including politicians, say that these reforms may threaten Kazakhstan.
But I am certain that the reforms are extremely important for the future of our nation. We cannot turn away from the chosen path. On the contrary, we should firmly pursue the path of reform, keeping in mind such fundamental values as the rule of law, the unity of the people, social justice and domestic political stability.
Distinguished members of Parliament!
There is a vital task ahead of us to strengthen comprehensive modernization and achieve a breakthrough in social and economic development. Our country has long relied on a favourable external environment. We believed in various concepts and programs, we trusted the far-fetched reports of imaginary successes.
But we neglected to focus on the most important issues - the standard of living of citizens is still low, legal injustice still exists, and inequality between the rich and the poor is growing. The Government and members of parliament are faced with the task of solving these major problems in the next five years. It is urgent for us to begin the overhaul of our common home.
The systemic problems in the economy and social sphere that have been accumulating for years require decisive action. Therefore, we will have to take decisions that may be unpopular, but are effective and necessary. We will have to consider clear priorities. Particularly important issues need to be addressed immediately.
However, some issues will have to be postponed, while for others only the contours of future decisions will have to be outlined. There is no other way, otherwise we will scatter our efforts and squander available resources.
The next five years will be decisive for our country. We will have to create a quality legal framework to ensure the country's dynamic progress. This will require changing the rules and principles of how our economy functions. The first steps in this direction have already been taken - work on demonopolization and the return of illegally withdrawn capital from the country is underway. And this does not mean that our country does not need a sustainable, competitive, and big business. Undoubtedly it does, and we will support it.
It will start working in a new way in our new economic paradigm and will definitely be developed. Overall, creating an open and self-sufficient market economy remains the main priority. Small and medium businesses should become the driving force of the economy and the labor market.
Much has been said about this, but no significant shifts in this direction have been made. Therefore, we need to change the emphasis in our economic policy. We need to launch a full range of measures to support small and medium-sized businesses, which should fully feel their significant role in the development of the country.
We need a new wave of entrepreneurs able to take responsibility for the economic progress of Kazakhstan. Businesspeople who can build a successful business without access to administrative resources, utilizing entrepreneurial talent and diligence, should become its core.
Such people exist in every region. It is important to give them an opportunity to develop their business within the country and truly help them. The existing economic model in Kazakhstan is based on attracting investment, primarily in the resource sectors.
Therefore, medium-sized businesses, which are the backbone of the national bourgeoisie, develop haphazardly, only in certain regions. In general, the Government is facing the task of attracting significant investment in key sectors of the economy, including foreign investment. They should give a tangible boost to the development of medium-sized businesses.
There should be no red tape in this matter. Obviously, the pandemic that has engulfed the country and its consequences have not been easy for domestic business. Since the beginning of last year, our efforts have been focused on transforming the political system.
Now it's time to focus on specific economic issues. We need to bring the work in this direction to a qualitatively new level. Ensuring real protection of private property and creating competitive market conditions are the key goals we must achieve. To achieve this, it is necessary to continue the reform of the judicial and law enforcement systems.
I want to appeal to business representatives: Kazakhstan is our common home, so I urge everyone to build our common future together on this sacred land. As President, I guarantee you the full support of the State.
Particular attention will be paid to enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized businesses. In this regard, we must develop a single comprehensive program to support them. It should fully systematize all support measures. State support should be allocated on the basis of a measurable socio-economic effect of a specific project. I instruct the Government, together with the parliamentary body, to develop approaches aimed at the development of medium-sized businesses. This should become the main engine of our economy. This issue will be under my personal supervision.
The National Chamber “Atameken” should also be oriented towards these goals, greatly increasing its cooperation with the Government. The Chamber should not defend only the interests of big businesses, which can bring their problems to the Government on their own. The priority in the work of Atameken should be to support medium and small businesses.
Along with this, it should contribute to the promotion of national business in foreign markets. We should engage in real industrialization, localization of production, modernization of infrastructure. Projects financed from the budget should be implemented primarily by domestic entrepreneurs.
In the next five years we must significantly strengthen our small and medium-sized businesses. The national projects must be implemented in a quality and timely manner. Each budgetary cent should be spent wisely. Parliamentary control is especially important here. The citizens who voted for you have high expectations of you.
Deputies have an important contribution to make in strengthening the partnership between government and society, in further implementing the concept of a "listening state".
This applies first and foremost to the Amanat party, which won the election. I hope that its vast experience and broad support in society will enable it to become one of the main driving forces of the planned transformations. In general, all MPs have one task - to be at the frontline every day, make decisions and be responsible for them before the people.
It is necessary to build effective feedback mechanisms with the citizens in order to effectively defend their interests and contribute to the solution of urgent problems of the country. Our top priorities remain improving the quality of life for our citizens, creating a new type of nation and strengthening our centuries-old statehood. On this basis, today I would like to present to you my vision for the upcoming work of the Parliament.
FIRST. We must stimulate business activity.
To do this it is first of all necessary to form a fair, stable and transparent tax system. The new model of tax policy should ensure an optimal distribution of national wealth, a high level of economic activity, and targeted support for priority sectors of the economy.
The tax code and tax policy should be clear and stable. The entire process of interaction between fiscal authorities and business needs to be finally fully digitized. This will greatly facilitate the life of entrepreneurs, and systematically increase budget revenues.
The Parliament could discuss the possibility of differentiating the rate of corporate income tax (CIT) and value added tax (VAT), which form the lion's share of the state budget. At the same time, high-margin large enterprises and commodity-exporting companies must pay more to the treasury. This practice has successfully proven itself in the world for a long time. And it is fair.
The situation in the country has cardinally changed. The New Kazakhstan is not a slogan, it is a reality. There is a great deal of work ahead, which we will all do together. Since the beginning of last year, work has been under way to de-monopolize the economy. This is not an easy process, which requires willpower and professionalism on the part of the Government. But this work must continue.
We need to introduce clear and effective tools to ensure control in transfer pricing, international taxation, allocation of subsidies and state resources. One of the first decrees I signed after my re-election as President was on measures to return illegally withdrawn assets to the state. The government and the Prosecutor General's Office have already prepared a separate draft law.
I ask the Parliament to pass a corresponding law in the near future. These funds should be used exclusively for the development of the country. This also applies to budgetary expenditures. However, the planning and execution of the budget today leaves much to be desired.
The cost of servicing the national debt is growing, transfers from the National Fund are not decreasing, and there are still problems with the efficiency of budget implementation at all levels. Therefore, we need a well-thought-out and balanced budget policy.
The draft of the new Budget Code to be submitted to Parliament this year must be aimed at solving these issues. The development of tourism deserves special attention of the Government and Parliament. The potential of this industry is not fully realized. There are attractive tourist sites in the country, but they are still inaccessible.
into give a new impetus to this industry, we firstly need a comprehensive solution to infrastructure-related issues, as well as a radical improvement of the quality of services. It is necessary to create such conditions so that entrepreneurs see wide prospects in the sphere of tourism. The effectiveness of this work should be measured by the volume of private investment in the sector, as well as the number of domestic and foreign tourists. In general, the state policy to support small and medium-sized businesses in Kazakhstan should become a long-term and systemic strategy.
The “Ak Zhol” party focuses on the development of small and medium-sized businesses and the demonopolization of the economy. I expect that the representatives of Ak Zhol in the Mazhilis will contribute to the solution of these tasks. The lower chamber of Parliament now also contains members of the Respublica party created at the initiative of a group of entrepreneurs.
I hope it will contribute in every way to creating a good business environment in Kazakhstan. I would like to take this opportunity to focus on another pressing issue. It is known that financial and industrial groups and big business have a great deal of influence in the development of laws and various rules on decision-making.
It is fair to say that this is characteristic of almost all countries, including developed ones. But when it happens behind closed doors under complete lack of legal regulation, it creates a wide field for corruption. In the developed world, policies are not formed behind closed doors. Therefore, I instruct to study the international experience of legislative regulation and control of lobbying activities.
Second. It is important to make full use of our country's production potential.
Kazakhstan's economy is still dependent on the extraction of minerals. In other words, its structure remains raw material, while the country's progressive development requires economic diversification. Of course, we also have our competitive advantages in the world market, which must be effectively used to solve current and strategic tasks. Therefore, it is necessary to continue developing these industries.
However, over the past decades, systemic problems have accumulated in the sphere of subsoil use. Insufficient exploration works hinder the full realization of the potential of the mining industry. The rate of replenishment of the mineral resource base is also slowing down.
And this is happening against the background of depletion of the developed subsoil. It is necessary to use mineral resources efficiently and rationally. To do this, it is necessary to improve legislation and simplify the necessary procedures.
Investments in geological exploration and development of mineral deposits are of particular importance. The Government and Parliament should take concrete measures in this direction.
Last year we faced a serious shortage of commercial gas, which jeopardized the energy security of the country. To eliminate such situations in the future, it is necessary to provide the domestic market with this type of fuel.
At the same time, gas prices in Kazakhstan are the lowest in comparison with all neighboring countries. Therefore, following the example of foreign countries, it is necessary to consider the possibility of introducing differentiated tariffs.
In general, low tariffs and low prices have a negative impact on our economy. All allocated subsidies go to the neighboring countries. The problem is quite complicated, but it needs to be solved gradually. There is no other way out.
For those who are now heating huge mansions day and night at a low rate, the price of a cubic meter should be higher in the new system. This is where social justice manifests itself.
It is important to increase the efficiency of the use of available raw materials, it is necessary to learn to live in conditions of austerity both at home and at the state level.
This is a global practice that has intensified in the current complex geopolitical situation. Uncontrolled and wasteful use of cheap gas both in production and in everyday life should become a thing of the past.
The Government should develop a plan for energy efficiency and rational consumption of commercial gas. A healthy competitive economy is, first of all, a diversified economy.
The pandemic and the current geopolitical crisis have clearly demonstrated how unstable commodity markets are. It will no longer be possible to rely only on wealth. It is necessary to actively increase the added value of the extracted resources, processing them into high-quality and in-demand goods.
The industrialization work carried out so far has not been able to ensure the development of non-resource sectors of the economy at the proper level. We continue to import food products and essential goods.
This is one of the key reasons for rising inflation. Kazakhstan is a World Trade Organization member, so we must adhere to the principles of free trade in foreign economic relations.
However, at least in those positions where we have real potential – raw materials, personnel and technology – we must be self-sufficient. It is necessary to develop a holistic vision of the development of domestic value, that is, the manufacturing industry, aimed primarily at the domestic market.
Accelerated development of the manufacturing industry is possible only on the basis of innovations and advanced technologies. This is obvious. Therefore, Kazakhstan's economy should be based on scientific achievements.
It is required not only to conduct research and obtain patents, but also to introduce scientific developments into production. A new law is to be adopted for the comprehensive development of science. I expect that members of parliament will pay special attention to this draft law.
THIRD. The approach to infrastructural development must be reconsidered.
Everyone knows how difficult the current heating season was, especially in some regions. The outdated energy infrastructure is working at its maximum capacity. On my instructions, a new model for the development of the electric power market is being developed.
It is aimed at attracting additional investment to the industry while increasing the transparency of all its participants. The Mazhilis is considering three draft laws related to the electric power industry.
I ask the deputy corps to promptly consider them and adopt the relevant legislative amendments. Due to the high wear and tear of utility networks, serious accidents regularly occur in almost all regions. In many cities, there is an acute lack of basic infrastructure: roads, power lines, gas pipelines, and so on.
In this regard, I propose adopting a National Infrastructure Plan aimed at forming a sustainable infrastructure framework for the country. It should reflect the main problems of infrastructure development and identify key projects to be implemented by 2029.
One of the most pressing issues for citizens is housing. I receive hundreds of requests every day from citizens who ask to ensure the availability of housing.
The state is solving this problem to the best of its ability. Once again, I would like to emphasize that the state will help only the most vulnerable categories of the population. Housing policy directly depends on the situation on the market. That is why we have to revise our approaches in this sphere, making them more flexible and fairer.
The Urban Planning Code, which will systematize and radically improve the policy in the industry, has an important role to play. The government must develop new approaches to solving the issue of cheaper housing for our citizens who want to settle in the border areas. It is also necessary to pay attention to the modernization and creation of engineering and social infrastructure. In my opinion, this is an important strategic task.
We have 65 border regions, and, unfortunately, the socio-economic situation of many of them is at a low level. Sometimes this is due to economic factors, and sometimes it is due to inefficient administrative-territorial division.
Given the strategic importance of these areas, within the framework of the Rural Development Concept being developed on my instruction, we should outline concrete measures on the development of border areas. The main goal is to reduce the outflow of the population, to create comfortable living conditions for people, and to give a new impetus to the economic development of border areas.
FOURTH. The issue of food security requires special attention.
We have to admit that the domestic agro-industrial complex is not yet able to fully cope with this important task. The development of agriculture is hampered by inconsistent sectoral policy, inefficient spending of budgetary funds, and the presence of many intermediaries between the producer and the consumer. In particular, there are overstated requirements for collateral. Alternative funding instruments for agribusiness are developing slowly. This had a negative impact on the dynamics of food inflation. The task of the state is to create the necessary conditions for a qualitative breakthrough in the agricultural sector.
Along with this, the integrated development of rural areas is of great importance. The "Auyl-El Besigi" (the village is the cradle of the country) project is being implemented in the country for several years. Within its framework, 3,700 social and engineering infrastructure facilities were modernized in more than 1,000 villages. This work will continue.
This year, 143 billion tenge will be allocated from the budget for the implementation of more than 1,500 projects. In my election platform, I have identified the development of rural business through agricultural cooperation as one of the important tasks.
To this end, the project "Auyl Amanaty" will be launched, under which rural residents will be given microloans at 2.5% per annum for 5-7 years. Agricultural cooperatives will be created to provide support and marketing services to the population, they will have access to subsidies for the purchase of equipment and agricultural machinery.
About 1 trillion tenge will be allocated for these purposes. The projects "Auyl-El Besigi" (the village is the cradle of the country) and "Auyl Amanaty" (trusted village) should become the basis of the new Concept of Rural Development.
We need systemic measures to preserve and improve soil fertility, strengthen control over the rational use of agricultural land, increase crop yields and crop diversification. I hope that the inclusion of the "Auyl" party in the Mazhilis will contribute to better legislative support for reforms in the agricultural sector.
Water security is strategically important. The water issue may aggravate in the medium term. Therefore, to avoid dealing with the consequences, we need to eliminate the causes of the potential water crisis today. Currently, the Government is developing the draft of a new Water Code.
It should focus on effective water management and protection based on a scientific approach, innovations, and best international practices. Agriculture accounts for 65% of the total use of water, with losses reaching 60%. In the current reality, this is an unaffordable luxury.
It is necessary to switch to a new tariff policy. If we do not do it now, the situation will aggravate. Digitalization of water supply facilities and the entire water sector is of fundamental importance.
There will be a large-scale reconstruction of irrigation canals, the transition to autonomous management of hydraulic structures, automation of water metering, and the introduction of quotas for the use of water resources. All these issues require high-quality regulatory and legislative support.
FIFTH. It is necessary to consistently improve the quality of human capital.
As you know, I pay special attention to this issue. I am convinced that the main wealth of Kazakhstan is its people. The people, their knowledge and competencies are the key driving force behind the progress of our country.
To do this, it is necessary to comprehensively develop the education system. In recent years, the state has significantly increased investment in this area. The shortage of places in kindergartens is gradually decreasing. In all regions, schools are being repaired and built, and the material and technical equipment of educational institutions is being improved.
However, this is not enough. Decisive steps are needed to improve the quality of education, especially secondary education. In the educational process, the key person is the teacher. It is necessary to further increase their status and authority in society.
Meanwhile, during the National Qualification Testing, the majority of teachers, principals and graduates of pedagogical universities could not pass the test. Experienced teachers complain that the requirements are too high. Maybe they should be simplified and improved. In this area, there are set rules. But, in any case, the requirements for teachers should be high.
Attempts to fill vacancies in schools by any means lead to the quality of teaching staff being overlooked. Therefore, it is necessary to take effective measures to improve the level of training of teachers. This is the most important task that directly affects the future of the younger generation.
Priority should also be given to improving management in the education system. It is necessary to attract professionals to this sphere. Following the example of the Presidential Youth Personnel Reserve, a program for selecting and training thousands of leaders of change in education will be launched.
The issue of the personnel is also acute in the system of higher education. Another key component of human capital development is an effective health care system. It is necessary to improve the country's medical infrastructure. Its current state raises many criticisms.
The state is addressing these issues step by step. As part of the national project “Modernization of Rural Health”, it is planned to build more than 600 facilities.
It is extremely important that all the work is done to a good standard and on time. The responsibility is on the akims. Along with this, the legal protection of medical workers is of fundamental importance. Their social status must not be neglected either.
A special draft law to address this issue has been discussed in Parliament for almost a year. This document mainly regulates doctors' liability insurance. At the same time, specific measures to increase the prestige of the medical profession, proposed by specialists and deputies, are largely neglected.
It is important that medical workers have legal protection of their rights. Parliamentarians should pay due attention to solving this issue. Popularization of healthy lifestyles and the development of mass sports are of the utmost importance. It is especially important to create conditions for children to play sports. All this will improve the health of the population. I raised this issue in my Address to the Nation. The state pays particular attention to strengthening the sports infrastructure. There are more than 43,000 sports facilities in the country, of which more than half are in rural areas.
At the same time, there is a shortage of simple and accessible sports facilities for citizens. In addition, most sports facilities are state-owned, and the cost of their maintenance is borne by the budget. The development of sports infrastructure requires the involvement of the local government, patrons and advertisers, and a more active application of public-private partnership mechanisms.
It is important that residents are enthusiastic and actively involved in the development of mass sports. The state must create all the conditions for this. Entrepreneurs and other citizens who invest their money in the development of mass sports and help to popularize a healthy lifestyle will be awarded the highest state awards. It is necessary to move away from formalism and command-and-control style in regulating the industry. All these approaches should be reflected in the decisions and program documents of the Government and akimats.
Another important issue is the implementation of a balanced policy in the field of cultural development. Currently, a new concept for the development of this sector is being developed. This document should focus on the comprehensive development of the sphere of culture, the preservation and promotion of the country's cultural heritage, and the strengthening of national identity.
The creative intelligentsia must generate popular and in-demand content that at the same time meets the strategic objectives of the state. It is vital to systematically support the domestic creative industry.
Overall, I am convinced that the consistent strengthening of human capital will be the key to the success of our country in a rapidly changing world. By forming a new type of nation, we will lay a solid foundation for building a just state and a harmonious society. I decided to restore the title of “People's Artist of Kazakhstan”. In October, on the eve of the Republic Day, the first group of cultural figures will be awarded this title.
SIXTH. Support for socially vulnerable categories of citizens remains a priority.
People who find themselves in a difficult life situation should not solve their problems alone. The justice of the state and the solidarity of society must be viewed through this. The protection of mothers and children is particularly important. As per my instructions, from the beginning of this year the period of childcare payments was increased from one year to a year and a half.
This year, the social package previously given to children aged 1 to 6 years old from low-income families has also been revised. Over 100,000 children now receive this support in cash. In addition, more than half a million families with many children receive benefits, and preparations are actively underway to implement my initiative, “The National Fund for Children”, which I established last year.
The state will continue to provide low-income citizens with targeted social assistance. In this regard, I would like to elaborate separately on the social protection of people with special needs. More than 700,000 people belong to this category today. They feel very acutely the consequences of high inflation, in particular the increase in the price of food and medicine. We need to strengthen support measures for people with special needs and those who care for them. Furthermore, citizens who have lost a breadwinner in the family must not be neglected.
In this regard, I instruct the government to increase benefits for this category of people by 14.5% starting from September 1 this year. We have every reason to say that Kazakhstan is the only state in our region that provides such an extensive social support. In general, the system of state social support must become proactive and even more targeted. However, assistance should not give rise to dependency.
This is especially true for young, able citizens, who should not have to rely on benefits. It is a shameful thing for healthy and fit citizens to do. At the same time, special attention should be paid to workers in hazardous conditions. Special payments should be introduced for this category of workers, taking into account a detailed study of domestic and international experience. In the labor sphere, state assistance should be aimed primarily at preemptively exposing social risks, rather than eliminating their consequences. Parliament and the government need to coordinate work closely in this area. I am sure that the representatives of the People's Party of Kazakhstan and the National Social Democratic Party will actively work to resolve important social issues.
SEVENTH. The system of human rights protection should be further strengthened.
Upholding the rule of law in all spheres of life should be the foundation of our country's progress. It is important that every citizen is confident in the protection of their rights and is certain about the fairness of the courts. The formation of a highly professional and incorruptible judiciary plays a key role here.
On the other hand, it is necessary that all citizens have equal access to quality legal services to protect their rights in court. To this end, the state guarantees legal aid to victims from socially vulnerable categories. In addition, the role of lawyers must be consistently strengthened. In particular, they must have unimpeded access to the criminal case files from the beginning of the pre-trial investigation.
An analysis of complaints received by the Constitutional Court shows that citizens have complaints about certain provisions of the law. The decisions of the Constitutional Court on them prove the validity of such criticism. The Constitutional Court has issued its verdicts on some of the appeals, and certain norms of the law have been found to be inconsistent with the Constitution.
This has significant consequences for law enforcement, since such norms can no longer be applied, and the decisions of courts and other bodies based on them are subject to review. Our legislation must be brought into full compliance with the Constitution. Parliament should play a decisive role in solving this very important problem.
The results of such work will strengthen the system of protection of the constitutional rights of citizens. Another serious problem in the field of human rights protection is human trafficking. A special law should be enacted to address this problem. Such a law would provide protection and social support for citizens who became victims of human trafficking.
This is extremely relevant in the context of increasing global and regional processes of forced migration. It is necessary for the law to incorporate the best global practices, while taking into account our national interests. Therefore, representatives of international organizations, along with domestic experts and lawyers, should be involved in its development.
EIGHTH. It is necessary to improve the efficiency of public administration and the quality of strategic planning.
Electoral promises and programs now have to be realized consistently and scrupulously. Citizens' trust in the institutions of power and their belief in positive change depends on it. Civil servants play a key role in the development and implementation of reforms. Therefore, it is necessary to attract highly motivated and highly qualified professionals to public service. It is necessary to open doors for talented managers and professionals from the private sector as much as possible.
We should move to a more harmonious, decentralized model of public service. We need to get used to solving problems immediately, without waiting for instructions from above. Along with institutional changes, a radical modernization of organizational culture in state structures is required.
Furthermore, last year saw the beginning of important work to de-bureaucratize the state apparatus and the rulemaking process. The necessary conditions for the rapid adoption of high-quality laws on the most important issues have been created. However, we must admit that no real de-bureaucratization has taken place.
The government is slow to make major decisions, which are bogged down in a routine of bureaucracy and multiple approvals between departments, the government and the Executive Office of the President. Ministers are afraid to make decisions, shifting responsibility to their colleagues or subordinates. All of this is unacceptable.
Digitalization is a critical factor in the efficiency of public administration. In addition to the development of e-government infrastructure, it is also necessary to focus on further digitalization of the representative branch of government.
electronica digital parliament and maslikhats of all levels can significantly increase public confidence in the government. One of the basic conditions for the effectiveness of ongoing reforms is the availability of complete and reliable data. The systematic integration of databases and the use of smart technology will improve the quality of public services and government solutions, making them more accessible even in the most remote areas of the country. The implementation of the proposed approaches will require updating the laws on civil service, state statistics, and public services.
I would like to focus separately on the issue of the state planning system. In recent years, the world has seen unprecedented geopolitical, economic and technological shifts. In this regard, a number of strategic documents have lost their relevance. Therefore, we have to conduct a full-scale revision of the “Kazakhstan2050 Strategy”. This Strategy should become a document defining the long-term vision and key priorities of the country's development, taking into account global trends.
In general, careful planning should be emphasized in this paper. This will give our state policy strategic depth and sustainability, making it more adequate to today's challenges and threats.
Honorable deputies, you are at the center of all the events taking place in the country.
However, we must always remember that the interests of the people are paramount. That is why populism and the promotion of one's private goals must not be tolerated. The Parliament and the maslikhats must always interact as closely as possible, which is the only way to ensure consistency in the implementation of state policy.
Thanks to the reforms, the powers of MPs have been significantly expanded, which, in turn, will allow central government to respond in a timely manner to the serious and large-scale problems that arise in the regions, which local authorities are not able to solve. The work of the bicameral Parliament also underwent changes.
If previously bills were approved by the Mazhilis and then adopted by the Senate, now the right to adopt laws has been transferred to the Mazhilis.
Therefore, I support the proposal for this hall to be used permanently by f the Mazhilis. The Mazhilis gained other powers, which enabled the highest representative body to become a truly influential Parliament.
I previously said that the party that won the election has the right to propose to the head of state a candidate for the position of Prime Minister. Thus, this party will assume political responsibility, which once again confirms the formula “strong President – influential Parliament – accountable Government”. The government will have to implement a number of social and economic reforms.
In the future, it is better to attract representatives of various parties to leadership positions in the Government and regions. To this end, I suggest that political parties form a personnel reserve. This will give a new impetus to the interaction between the representative and executive branches of power.
Now, the government will truly become accountable. In this context, professional knowledge alone will not be enough for ministers. They will need to be able to intelligently and competently defend their interests and positions before Parliament, and to communicate their thoughts clearly and concisely to the public.
Now there is full opportunity to openly discuss any shortcomings and mistakes in the work of the government, as well as to help correct and eliminate them. This opportunity should be used properly in the interest of the people. Parliament must also be as transparent as possible in its work. Today, meetings of the legislature are broadcast online. This practice has proven its worth, and the broadcasts are in demand among journalists and a wide audience.
I believe that we should also launch live broadcasts of plenary sessions of Parliament on particularly important public topics on the state news television channel. Citizens will have more opportunities to see their elected deputies in action and evaluate their work.
The debates in Parliament will take on a truly national scope. In general, this format will contribute to the formation of new standards of societal policy and the development of a culture of dialogue in society. Being a member of parliament is not just a big position, it is a great responsibility and a big commitment.
You were elected by the people. Citizens trust you and have high hopes for you.
We are entrusted with great responsibility. It is a responsibility to the past and the future of our country. What kind of state the next generation will live in will directly depend on the decisions we make.
We have one goal – to build a Just Kazakhstan. It cannot be achieved in one day. We will have to show diligence, determination, professionalism, knowledge, discipline and patriotism.
The interests of the nation and the state must come first. Of course, the development of society requires a diversity of opinions.
At the same time, when it comes to our nationhood, we must show unity and cohesion. Our common civic duty is to work honestly and selflessly for the prosperity of Kazakhstan.
Let us always be faithful to our sacred duty to our homeland.
I wish you success in your work!
May our Kazakhstan prosper!