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Tokayev launches initiatives on social issues, public safety and human rights

EPA-EFE/IGOR KOVALENKO
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev.

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NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev has announced a series of domestic, social, economic and political policies, including a law on parliamentary pluralism and political rallies that will improve the life of its citizens and move this Central Asian republic closer to common democratic standards.
The goal of Tokayev, since his inauguration, has been to position himself as the “hearing President” – the figurehead of the “hearing state,” the government said in a press release.
“The President has taken significant steps in achieving this goal. He has announced a series of domestic, social, economic and political policies aimed at improving the quality of life for citizens of Kazakhstan. The President has consistently emphasised his commitment to the principle of the ‘hearing state’. In response to this, such initiatives as the National Council of Public Trust have been established as platforms in which wider society can discuss different views and strengthen the national conversation regarding government policies and reforms. These significantly reduced bureaucratic delays and provided citizens the opportunity to voice concerns to the highest levels of government,” the Kazakh government said.
Social initiatives
On 28 December 2019, Tokayev signed a law under which large families will receive state support regardless of income, Akorda reported. Families with four children will be paid 42,496 tenge ($111), with five – 53,127 tenge ($139), with six – 63,757 tenge ($167), families with seven or more children – 74,388 tenge ($195).
The current system of targeted social assistance is changing. The old mechanism is returning, with targeted Social Assistance will be supplemented by a guaranteed social package for children from low-income families.
Persons with disabilities will be able to independently choose the better technical equipment and rehabilitation services they have put. The support of the recipients of three social benefits is increasing. In Kazakhstan, the size of social payments for disability, loss of breadwinner and job loss will increase by 30%. Kazakhstan is adopting laws “On Compulsory Social Insurance” and “On Amendments and Additions to Some Legislative Acts on Issues of Compulsory Social Insurance, Social Security and Public-Private Partnerships in the Field of Health Care.”
Starting from 1 January in Kazakhstan, undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and college students begun receiving increased scholarships.
Since the beginning of the new year, Tokayev, has charged the government with increasing the scholarships by 25%. The head of Kazakhstan made such a statement at the closing ceremony of the Year of Youth.
“On my instructions, the government from January 2020 will increase scholarships for colleges receiving secondary specialised education by 25%. This is another 100,000 people. I am sure these measures will be good support for our students,” Tokayev said.
In general, 233,000 people will receive an increased scholarship from the beginning of the year.
From the beginning of 2020, students’ scholarships will be increased at a basic level:
undergraduate from 20,949 tenge ($54) to 26,186 tenge ($67); scholarship in the magistracy – from 53,530 tenge ($137) to 66,913 tenge ($172); doctoral scholarship – from 81,998 ($210) to 102,498 tenge ($263). The scholarship of middle managers will increase from 16,759 tenge ($43) to 20,948 tenge ($54), and the increased scholarship – from 19,272 tenge ($49) to 24,090 tenge ($62).
Kazakhstan’s Education Minister Askhat Aymagambetov said that additional funds will be allocated from the republican budget to increase scholarships. “About 13 billion tenge (more than 34 million dollars) will be required for students of higher educational institutions per year. If we add to this students studying in colleges, this is still about six billion tenge,” Aimagambetov said.
Since 1 January, Kazakh entrepreneurs will not pay taxes until 2023, the head of state Tokayev said in his message to the people of Kazakhstan in September 2019. According to him, this is done to ease the tax burden on representatives of small and micro-businesses.
“I instruct the government to develop a legislative framework for exempting micro and small businesses from paying income tax for a period of three years. The relevant amendments to the law should come into force in 2020. My decision on a three-year ban on inspections of entities will come into force in January 2020. micro and small businesses, “Tokayev said last September.
According to him, during the moratorium, it is necessary to activate the tools of self-regulation and public control.
“In case of violation by business entities of the prescribed norms and rules, especially in the sanitary-epidemiological sphere, companies will be closed and their owners held accountable. In this way, we will reduce the burden on the business,” Tokayev said.
To support business, the head of state instructed to allocate an additional 250 billion tenge for the next three years.
Public safety
In an effort to increase public safety, Tokayev has strengthened the penalties for those who commit serious crimes, including sexual violence, drug trafficking, human trafficking, driving vehicles after drinking all types of alcohol, poaching, violence towards park rangers, domestic violence against women and serious crimes against individuals, especially children.
At the request of the President, the Mazhilis have adopted a number of important amendments in these areas. On 30 December 2019, Tokayev signed a number of amendments to codify these amendments into law.
These adopted amendments significantly strengthen the protection of the rights of women and children. As a result, crimes such as rape and sexual violence have been reclassified from medium to severe punishments from five to eight years. For committing rape or acts of sexual violence against children, criminals now receive sentences of 20 years or life imprisonment. A similar penalty is provided for the murder of children.
In addition, the law provides life sentences for those selling drugs to a minor via the Internet, and in nightclubs, cafes, and parks.
Kazakhstan continues strengthening anti-trafficking measures. Tokayev’s new initiatives provide new measures of punishment in the form of prison sentences from 7 to 12 years for crimes related to human trafficking, the press release read.
The criminal liability for poaching has also been substantially strengthened. Now, for those proven guilty of poaching, the maximum sentence an individual can receive has been increased from 5 to 12 years in prison. With these new legal amendments, the state has strengthened the protection of the rights of park rangers who care for the safety of nature. According to these new laws, the punishment for attacks on the inspectors for the protection of flora and fauna has also been increased.
The legislative initiatives of Tokayev are aimed at further strengthening public safety and ensure that the state guarantees the rights of individuals. As a result, Kazakhstan continues to enhance legal powers, strengthens legal punishments for serious crimes and consistently develops the rule of law, the Kazakh government said, adding that all these new initiatives are in line with the social, economic and political measures taken by Tokayev to further modernise Kazakhstan.
Pluralism and political rallies
Regarding Parliamentary pluralism, a law will be passed to allow representatives from other parties to hold Chair positions on some Parliamentary committees, in order to foster alternative views and opinions.
The laws that concern elections and parties need to be amended, Tokayev has said. His decision will play an important role in preparation for the upcoming parliamentary elections, they should go according to plan in 2021.
Tokaev said that the number of party members during its state registration should be halved, that is, up to 20,000. “We must gradually amend the laws that affect parties and elections,” he said.
In the election party lists, according to Tokayev, it is necessary to provide for a mandatory 30% quota for women and youth.
According to the Constitution, the next parliamentary elections should be held in five years, but no later than two months before the expiration of the mandates. That is, no later than January 20, 2021.
The electoral cycle in Kazakhstan will be within the constitutionally set deadlines, member of the national council of public trust, political scientist Yerlan Sairov said.
“The president’s decisions are not dictated by momentary benefits, but by strategic issues. The state understands that without political modernisation, social and economic development is impossible. Lowering the threshold for registering parties is the beginning of the way. I think that society also has a very big request for pluralism of opinions and democratization, but society will not accept extreme methods of conducting political opinions,” he said.
“We need the institution of parliamentary opposition. This is a new public paradigm, that is, there must be some alternative views and opinions that we must take into account,” the president has said, adding that it is necessary to legislatively consolidate the rights of political minorities in parliament.
Regarding political rallies, special places for peaceful rallies in central areas will be allocated and a new draft law outlining the rights and obligations of organizers, participants and observers will be passed.
On 20 December 2019, at the second meeting of the National Council of Public Confidence, Tokayev proposed switching to the notification principle of rallies and instructed to draft a bill on peaceful assemblies. He said that a draft law on peaceful assembly has been developed. It will be enough for the organisers of the meetings to notify the local executive bodies about the holding of the rallies. Moreover, meetings should not threaten people’s lives.

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