Nazarbayev is asked to withdraw from the Customs Union. Along with prices in Kazakhstan, social tensions also increase
Kazakhstan freezes prices for a number of socially important food products and introduces state regulation of retail and wholesale prices for local products. To prevent a social explosion and resolve the situation in the Kazakh consumer market, a price commission has been created under the leadership of First Deputy Prime Minister Umirzak Shukeyev. Experts link what is happening with the country's entry into the Customs Union.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the beginning of this year said that by 2013, Kazakhstan could reach the standard of living of developed countries. "We ended the past year with 9 thousand dollars of GDP per capita, and in terms of purchasing power exceeded the level of moderately developed countries," he said.
"We planned to reach these figures in 2015 year," said the leader of the nation. However, today the authorities acknowledged that the socio-economic situation is worsening. Prices for goods and services have risen significantly: sugar, vegetable oil, cereals, meat and dairy products have almost doubled in price. For example, buckwheat compared to last year increased in price by 2,5 times, beef became more expensive by 40%, lamb by 33%. The actual purchasing power of the population has fallen sharply. The increase in public sector wages from 1 July to 30% did not help either. According to experts, the annual inflation rate could be 11% against 7% last year. The current growth rates for basic foodstuffs and the increase in prices for utilities beat primarily the poor: retirees, students and small entrepreneurs, who constitute a significant part of the population. Only 20% of Kazakhstanis can be attributed to the middle class.
The culprit in the rise in prices in the country "appointed" the Customs Union (CU). It turned out that enterprising Russian entrepreneurs buy buckwheat grown in Kazakhstan, pack it in a Russian wrapper and sell it back to Kazakhstan, but as a Russian product, having doubled its cost. It is possible that the same procedure was done with fuel, the shortage of which the oil-producing country is experiencing today - fuel prices are rising and are already incommensurable with the income of Kazakhstani people, and there are practically no some types of fuel on sale.
"A year ago, before the start of the CU activity, the experts had expectations that inflation, the rise in prices for consumer goods will grow, but the authorities will be able to control them by creating reserve and stabilization funds. Today it became obvious that there was no state interventionism and No, but there is a clear policy of the government to bring the Kazakh prices closer to the Russian prices, ”Kazakh economic commentator Tulegen Askarov told NG. In the future, he said, we can expect a strengthening of Russian influence on the economy of Kazakhstan. According to the expert, this is influenced by two factors: Russia takes the first place in the import of goods to Kazakhstan, and together with the goods Russia exports its price level. The second factor is that Russians buy Kazakhstani products at low domestic prices, and then resell them in Kazakhstan at Russian prices. In the absence of customs duties, large Russian companies can dump and reshape the domestic market of Kazakhstan "for themselves." “Along with prices, social tensions also increase,” Tulegen Askarov noted.
Experts do not exclude that mass protests may start in Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev has already received several letters demanding to denounce the agreement on the Customs Union. Authors, public figures, opposition politicians, media representatives point to the economic and political damage that the republic involves in this organization, and threaten to raise the issue of the resignation of the country's leadership, including the president. Opinions that Kazakhstan is rather divided, first of all regionally, and the Kazakhs are patient, do not quite correspond to reality, experts say.
"Social protests in Kazakhstan are gaining momentum. In the coming years, this process will intensify. Especially since there is someone to organize the masses - there are public organizations, unemployed lawyers, and other active oppositionists," said Meruert Makhmutova, director of the Center for Analysis of Social Problems of Kazakhstan. In her opinion, the protest potential will increase primarily in the west of the country, in the area of oil and gas fields, where cases of discrimination against local workers are recorded. Recall that in Mangystau, the strike of oilmen continued throughout the summer, and today railway workers are protesting there.
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