Amendments to law, budget distribution and anti-crisis measures — on implementation of President's instructions

Today, the Central Communications Service hosted a briefing on measures to implement the Head of State's Address to the people of Kazakhstan “New Kazakhstan: Path of Renewal and Modernization’’. Minister of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan Alibek Kuantyrov and Minister of Justice Kanat Mussin presented their reports.

On March 16, 2022, the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev addressed the people of Kazakhstan with an extraordinary message "New Kazakhstan: Path of Renewal and Modernization." According to the Minister of National Economy Alibek Kuantyrov, in order to implement the message, by the Decree of the Head of State dated March 29, 2022, approved the National Action Plan, which consists of 36 activities in 10 areas. All of them are aimed at changing the political system and the administrative-territorial structure of the country, taking priority anti-crisis measures.

Work is already underway in three main areas:

  • Improving the administrative-territorial structure of the country;
  • Decentralization of local government;
  • Priority anti-crisis measures.

In the direction of "Improving the administrative-territorial structure of the country" 5 activities will be implemented.

Currently, the Ministry is working on the creation of the Abay, Zhetysu and Ulytau regions. On March 25, 2022, Government Commission chaired by the First Deputy Prime Minister Roman Sklyar on the education of these regions was established.

“In general, work is being carried out in accordance with the approved (March 25, 2022) Work Algorithm for the adoption of relevant Presidential Decrees. The algorithm includes a list of activities and procedures that must be carried out in accordance with the Laws “On the Administrative Territorial Structure of the Republic of Kazakhstan” and “On Local Government and Self-Government in the Republic of Kazakhstan”, indicating responsible executors and deadlines,” said Kuantyrov.

To date, the regions have completed the main activities provided for by the algorithm.

April 11, 2022, a meeting of the Republican Onomastic Commission under the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan was held, where the proposal to assign names to Ulytau, Abay and Zhetysu regions was supported.

According to the Minister of National Economy, to determine the boundaries of the reorganized and newly formed regions, the opinions of the population and such criteria as economic and infrastructural potential, population size and others were taken into account. Based on the results of the sessions of maslikhats of Almaty and East Kazakhstan regions, the boundaries of the reorganized and newly formed regions within the historical boundaries of 1997 were preliminarily determined. A session of the maslikhat is expected to be held in the Karaganda region, where the issue of the borders of the Karaganda and Ulytau regions will be considered.

Meanwhile, questions are being analyzed on the formation of the necessary staffing for the newly created state bodies, as well as the need for office space in the newly formed regions. In general, according to the Algorithm, the main work of state bodies and regions will be completed by April 20 this year, the drafts of the relevant Presidential Decrees will be submitted to the Presidential Administration in early May this year.

“Implementation of the activities of the Work Algorithm is under the daily control of the ministry. In the direction of "Decentralization of local self-government" two activities will be implemented. In order to expand the independence of the regions, a separate Law “On Local Self-Government in the Republic of Kazakhstan” is being developed. This work involves directly the regions themselves, as well as representatives of civil society. The main task is to expand the powers of local self-government bodies, de-bureaucratize processes and strengthen their financial independence, i.е. the main approaches will be aimed at ensuring the efficiency of the work of both local executive bodies and local self-government bodies,” Kuantyrov informed.

For example, in order to expand the financial opportunities of villages, along with the program "Auyl - El Besigi", a mechanism for direct financing of local government budgets will be introduced.

In addition, the powers of maslikhats in terms of local self-government will be expanded. Today, the implementation mechanism and further regulation of these norms is being worked out with authorized state bodies. The bill will be submitted to the deputies of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan for consideration this year.

In the area of ​​"Priority anti-crisis measures" 5 activities will be implemented.

In order to mitigate the emerging risks for socio-economic development, the Ministry, together with interested government agencies, has developed an Anti-Crisis Action Plan for 2022, the implementation of which will help mitigate the consequences of the aggravation of the geopolitical situation and use the emerging opportunities in the areas of ensuring the stability of the financial system, controlling and reducing inflation, supporting and stimulation of foreign trade activities, support for sectors of the economy and attraction of investments.

“The Head of State, within the framework of the Message to the people of Kazakhstan, set specific tasks to change the political system and the administrative-territorial structure of the country. This marks the beginning of a new stage of state building and the formation of a new political culture in the country,” Kuantyrov added.

The report was also made by the Minister of Justice of Kazakhstan Kanat Mussin. According to him, at the moment, the National Action Plan for the implementation of the Address has been approved by the Decree of the President, which contains 36 measures, of which 18 are of a legislative nature, 5 require the adoption of by-laws, the remaining 7 events are of a general nature.

“Implementation of the first six directions of the Message regarding the review of the powers of the President, reformatting the representative branch of power, improving the electoral system, expanding opportunities for the party system, modernizing the electoral process and strengthening human rights institutions will require the development of 6 draft laws,” Mussin said.

First of all, a draft law "On amendments and additions to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan" will be developed, which is already being worked out by a working group created by the order of the President. The working group includes prominent legal scholars who have made a significant contribution to the development of the legal system of the state. These are doctors of jurisprudence, professors specializing in the field of constitutional law, theory of state and law. As well as representatives of interested state bodies.

Amendments to the Constitution provide for the following areas:

  1. revision of the powers of the President and the introduction of additional restrictions related to the tenure of the President during the period of his powers (for example, the President will be required to terminate membership in a political party, and his close relatives will be prohibited from holding positions of political civil servants and heads of the quasi-public sector);
  2. revision of the procedure for the formation of the deputy corps of the Parliament, the competence of the Parliament and its chambers to adopt laws and other issues;
  3. regulation of the activities of the commissioner for human rights, the prosecutor's office and the Supreme Audit Chamber being created;
  4. regulation of the status and powers of the newly created Constitutional Court (for example, the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Prosecutor General and citizens will be given the right to appeal to the Constitutional Court in case of violation of constitutional human rights);
  5. abolition of the death penalty.

Work on the development of amendments to the Constitution is planned to be completed before the end of April this year, and their adoption is scheduled for the end of June this year.

Second, in order to implement the amendments to the Constitution, it is necessary to develop 3 independent draft constitutional laws:

  • “On the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan”;
  • “On the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Republic of Kazakhstan”;
  • "About the Prosecutor's Office''.

These constitutional laws will disclose the legal status, competence and organization of the activities of these bodies. The drafting body of the first two bills is the Ministry of Justice, and the draft Law "On the Prosecutor's Office" will be developed by the Prosecutor General's Office together with the Ministry of Justice. The introduction of these bills for consideration by the Parliament is scheduled for August this year, and their adoption — before the end of this year.

In addition, in order to match the current legislation with ongoing initiatives, the Ministry of Justice will also develop a draft constitutional law on amendments to the constitutional laws on the President, Parliament and the status of its deputies, on elections, the judiciary and the status of judges.

And an amending draft law on amendments to some legislative acts, which will provide for amendments to the laws on political parties, on local government, on state audit and a number of other laws.

For example, the law on political parties will be amended to simplify the procedures for registering political parties. In particular, it is planned to reduce the minimum size of the initiative group of citizens to create a party by almost a third from 1,000 to 700 people. It is also planned to reduce the threshold level required for registration of parties from 20,000 to 5,000 people and to reduce the minimum number of regional representations of parties by three times — from 600 to 200 people.

In general, the amendment bills envisage amendments to more than 20 legislative acts, including constitutional laws. The introduction of these bills for consideration by the Parliament is also scheduled for August this year, and their adoption — before the end of this year.

“In order to implement the seventh direction of political reforms on increasing the competitiveness of the media and strengthening the role of civil society institutions, the Ministry of Information and Social Development will develop a separate draft law on media issues,” the head of the Ministry of Justice informed.

This bill is supposed to revise the current law on the media, taking into account the interests of the state, the demands of society and the development trends in the media sphere. The adoption of the bill is scheduled for the end of 2023.

In turn, the Head of State also outlined the need for decentralization of local self-government (the ninth direction of political reforms). Thus, the instructions concerning the delimitation of the functions of the state and institutions of local self-government, as well as the expansion of the powers of maslikhats, will be implemented within the framework of the draft Law “On Local Self-Government in the Republic of Kazakhstan” being developed by the Ministry of National Economy.

During the session of communication with media representatives, the speakers had the opportunity to answer questions from journalists.

Thus, one of the first questions concerned the work of the commission for the preparation of amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Minister of Justice Kanat Mussin answered the question. Thus, according to him, the commission for the development of a bill on amendments and additions to the Constitution of the country is working in full force. The basic wording of the provisions of the law has already been prepared. Now they are being discussed.

“Now there is a stage of discussions and decision-making,” said Kanat Mussin.

The journalists were also interested in what specific norms of the Mass Media Law are proposed to be changed, and also in what terms it is planned to submit the draft law to the Majilis.

According to the head of the Ministry of Justice, the bill is planned to be submitted to the Majilis in 2023. In the meantime, conceptual approaches are being developed to change the norms of laws in accordance with the directions given by the Head of State in the Message.

“This work is not easy. It takes time to get a law that will properly regulate relations in this area and satisfy both society and journalists. Therefore, it is planned to be submitted to the Majilis for 2023,” he explained.

When asked about the revision of relations in the EurAsEC and building up export potential, the Minister of National Economy Kuantyrov replied that the revision of relations is not expected, trade will continue to be carried out on traditional positions that are not included in the sanctions lists. At the same time, the Operational Headquarters for Anti-Crisis Measures promptly considers key issues coming from domestic entrepreneurs, monitoring of the goods market is carried out on an ongoing basis.

Regarding the issue of the creation of three regions and the distribution of the budget, Kuantyrov explained that the Commission is still working, there is still no Decree on the creation of three new regions and the reorganization of six regions. After the appointment of new akims, the work will continue.

“Now parallel work is underway to form the staff of akimats and territorial divisions, central government agencies. There are applications from various central government agencies and local ones to increase the staff, there are many organizational issues,” Kuantyrov explained.

According to him, ongoing work is underway today, the final figures will be clear after the full formation of the regions.

Further, the journalists asked about the planned timing of the increase in the tax on the extraction of solid minerals. On this occasion, the Minister of National Economy said that an increase is planned.

“The increase is planned to be at least 1.3 times. But in principle there will be more coefficient. We presented the relevant approaches at the President's Supreme Council on Reforms. These changes have already been included in our urgent bill, which was in open legal acts. Now it is being coordinated with government agencies,” Alibek Kuantyrov replied.

When asked about cryptocurrencies and the development of this market, Kuantyrov noted that today there are risks in investing in cryptocurrencies.

“We are considering an increase in the tax burden for miners, at the moment they are also considering linking them to the tax rate for miners to the value of cryptocurrency. If the cryptocurrency grows, it will be good for the budget,” said Kuantyrov.

Cryptocurrency, in fact, does not have a real asset as a basis for this currency. It's not even a derivative, it's something more intangible.

“If people invest in cryptocurrencies, there must be a certain diversification, you can’t put your eggs in only one basket, and cryptocurrencies also need to diversify other currencies, real assets. Even if you take among cryptocurrencies, you don’t need to invest in one cryptocurrency, in Bitcoin or Litecoin alone, you also need to diversify. Because the market also shows different trends, there can be a sharp decline and people can lose a lot of money and then complain and cry accordingly. We must always diversify and approach this kind of investment very moderately,” Kuantyrov explained.

Kuantyrov also advised Kazakhstanis to keep money in tenge on deposit.

“If there was a lot of extra money, of course, it could be invested in real estate. Probably the easiest affordable way for Kazakhstanis is to keep money in tenge on deposit. This is the simplest, and it can be done, there are term, non-term deposits, so that the money is scrolled, but it is not used. Why exactly in tenge, the rate is much higher than in dollars. Since we have a very low interest rate in dollars, about one percent per annum, it is more convenient to invest in a tenge deposit, as the easiest way. And so there are many different financial instruments where you can invest free funds, but if this is an ordinary observer who does not understand the markets, then it is better to do this through a trusted broker and also diversify your assets,” Kuantyrov advised.

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