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The impact of anti-crisis measures on stabilizing the economy of Kazakhstan during a pandemic

Abstract.This article is devoted to the problem of the impact of anti-crisis measures on the stabilization of the economy of Kazakhstan during a pandemic. It examines topical issues related to the adoption of measures by the country's leadership to ensure the stability of the state's functioning.

The state of emergency and the introduction of quarantine measures had a negative impact on the business of Kazakhstan. Emergency measures were taken: about 4.5 million of the population received social benefits, a 10% indexation of pensions and state benefits, etc.

However, specific health, fiscal and macroeconomic measures are required to address the immediate impact of COVID-19. Further processes in the economy will depend on the effectiveness of monetary and fiscal support measures, and their ability to mitigate negative consequences. This crisis, despite its severe consequences, will allow everyone to learn important lessons and will have a beneficial effect on the intensification of a constructive dialogue between the state and business.

The crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic is taking a huge toll across the world. The modern world has never experienced such a blow. A crisis is a moment of truth that helps make adjustments to long-term goal setting. As the world economy changes, the economy of Kazakhstan will change. Therefore, right now, one should think in time about how best to survive the current crisis, take a comprehensive look at all socially significant components of the business ecosystem, and address targeted support of socially unprotected segments of the population. Time will show how the situation with the coronavirus will develop, so it is necessary to think in time about the possibility of long-term goal-setting at the national level.

COVID - 19 has caused a global economic crisis, the scale of which is still difficult to fully assess. Every country today is fighting the coronavirus pandemic in different ways. World governments are committing record levels of funding to fight COVID-19.

Officially, anti-crisis measures were taken in Kazakhstan on March 16. A state of emergency (state of emergency) was introduced in the country and a decree “On measures to ensure the stability of the functioning of the state” was issued by President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev.

The state of emergency and the introduction of quarantine measures had a negative impact on the business of Kazakhstan. Affected by the pandemic directly 1 million business entities (mainly services and trade), more than 1.6 million people were sent on leave without maintenance, about 300 thousand business entities and about 14-15 thousand subjects were suspended. Entrepreneurship with loans from STBs applied for an extension. In such a situation, an orientation toward support could only be obtained from the state [1].

Kazakhstan has taken unprecedented measures to support business almost entirely from domestic resources. In a pandemic, despite the crisis in Kazakhstan, it was decided to send 100 billion tenge to support the creation of new industries. In addition, the country declared a moratorium on inspections and penalties. A huge package of measures has been introduced in Kazakhstan within the framework of tax breaks for the payment of excise taxes and customs duties. The payment of excise taxes on export gasoline and fuel by the end of the year was canceled, and import duties on goods that are not self-sufficient were reduced.

It should be noted the actions of the authorities aimed at social support of the population. The list of social groups that received support and assistance from the state was expanded in the country. This category includes the self-employed and Kazakhstanis who previously did not have official earnings. According to the Government's estimates, about 4.5 million people received social benefits in the amount of 42,500 tenge. A 10% indexation of pensions and state benefits was carried out in Kazakhstan, which was not carried out everywhere in the CIS countries.

In a pandemic, you need to be prepared for a massive influx of patients. According to the World Health Organization [2], the number of hospital beds per 100 thousand population in Belarus was 1083, and in Kazakhstan - 606. According to this indicator, Kazakhstan is the first in Central Asia and the fourth among the CIS countries, after Russia (818) and Ukraine (746 ).

In the shortest possible time, 3 infectious diseases hospitals were built in Kazakhstan at once. They were built according to international standards. Good clinics have been built in Kazakhstan under the program “100 schools, 100 hospitals”. Moreover, these are not just single-profile hospitals, but multifunctional clinics. And there are enough such hospitals in every region. These clinics were built not only in regional, but also in district centers. In almost every region, in many districts, there are various anti-tuberculosis dispensaries. They can be used as quarantine centers because of the infrastructure.

For provisional, quarantine centers, even private individuals provided their clinics and hotels. In Kazakhstan, on the initiative of Elbasy, a special fund for helping the population “Birgemiz” was created. It accumulates the funds of those Kazakhstanis who want and can help the country in this difficult period. This initiative was supported by the country's largest businessmen. The first: Timur Kulibayev allocated 10 million dollars, Aydin Rakhimbaev, Galimzhan Yessenov and Rashid Sarsenov sent 2 million dollars each. In a short time, the Fund initially accumulated USD 41 million. Active fundraising continues to this day.

The impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on the economies of all states, including the countries of Central Asia, turned out to be very significant. Trade has been hit hard, health systems are under pressure, and consumption and investment levels are falling sharply. According to the latest available data, health care costs averaged across Central Asia at 6.3% of GDP, or around $ 740 per capita at purchasing power parity exchange rates, significantly less than the OECD average (World Bank, 2019 ). Where costs were higher (for example, in Kazakhstan), the health care system in terms of performance indicators lags far behind OECD standards (OECD, 2018) [2]. A number of countries have taken short-term measures in health, finance and economics, especially to support small businesses, and have received emergency assistance from international partners.

It should be noted that the impact of the virus can be uneven for a variety of reasons, ranging from different levels of disease in different sectors to functions performed in the informal economy and health consequences. The same applies to other vulnerable groups of the population, such as the elderly and the disabled. Providing support to those in need is complicated by the large size of the informal sector. The large size of the informal economy poses a number of additional challenges for vulnerable groups and governments in terms of the economic impact of the crisis and the ability to provide support to those who need it most.

For example, many companies in the informal sector do not have the infrastructure that would enable them to move their operations to telecommuting; this not only makes it harder for them to adapt, but also exposes their workers to much higher risks. Most workers in the informal economy are unable to work remotely. For this reason, the economic consequences for workers in the informal sector will be particularly dire; the ILO estimates that the monthly earnings of such workers could be cut by a third (ILO, 2020).

Measures to combat the virus will hit tourism hard, while the energy and mining sectors will be more vulnerable to changes in commodity prices as a result of the economic impact of the pandemic. Specific health, fiscal and macroeconomic responses are required to address the immediate impact of COVID-19. Also, special cash rewards and mortgage programs have been developed to support and reward healthcare workers (OECD, 2020).

The most vulnerable in the current market environment feel the participants in such segments and sectors of the economy of Kazakhstan as small and medium business, non-food retail trade, the aviation industry, oil and gas, mining, transport, electricity, and services. Representatives of large Kazakhstani business consider the announced measures of state support insufficient and expect support in terms of tax breaks (including VAT refunds for export-oriented enterprises and companies in the aviation sector), reimbursement of part of the costs, as well as the provision of preferential loans.

The crisis will cause a significant change in the behavioral reactions of people and the need for the government to rethink approaches to ensuring health security. In addition, the crisis will significantly change the business landscape and adjust the strategic goal-setting, both on the part of the state and business. The global economic crisis and declining consumer power are the main concerns among the responding companies.

The devaluation of the tenge, caused by a fall in oil prices and a decrease in demand and prices for base metals, negatively affects the effective demand of the population, strengthening the competitive positions of enterprises in export-oriented industries in Kazakhstan. Entrepreneurs consider the government's anti-crisis plan short-term and does not correspond to real needs.

During April of this year, a team of KPMG experts conducted a survey on measures of state support for business during a pandemic among more than 50 leaders of the business community of Kazakhstan, covering 14 different sectors of the country's economy [3]. KPMG analysts concluded that since the collapse of the USSR, Kazakhstan has not had a negative GDP indicator. The International Monetary Fund expects a 2.7% decline in 2020, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - 3%. At the same time, the structural problem of Kazakhstan remains dependence on energy carriers, which make up the lion's share of revenues to the budget of Kazakhstan.

The decline in oil revenues hit Kazakhstani businesses hard. The allocation of the costs of dealing with the aftermath of a pandemic shows that National Fund revenues can be depleted rather quickly. Therefore, today it is necessary to strengthen support not only for small and medium-sized businesses, to which the state places the greatest emphasis. The share of SMEs in GDP and the overall structure of employment in Kazakhstan is 35%, while in European countries these business segments account for 50% of GDP and 50-70% of employment. Against this background, big business is of great importance, providing 80% of tax revenues, 70% of GDP and 60% of employment.

The set of selected instruments in Kazakhstan does not correspond to the needs of business, as only 11% of those surveyed called tax holidays an effective way to stabilize the financial position of companies. Entrepreneurs consider the most necessary measures to reduce lending rates or a zero tax rate, preferential lending. Every fourth entrepreneur, in the course of a survey by NPP Atameken in July this year (more than 41 thousand business entities were covered) in the affected industries, noted a complete lack of income; 12% of entrepreneurs indicated a high likelihood of business closure and staff layoffs.

The current methods of monetary policy did not have the desired effect on business. The jump in the tenge rate to 450 per dollar exacerbated the complexity of the situation of enterprises. At the same time, the state cannot reduce the key rate, since this is fraught with devaluation. Banks regard the terms of business support programs as relevant. Despite low margins, they receive large amounts of money, which positively affects their financial condition.

Some respondents noted positively, a significant improvement in the environmental situation, the beneficial effect of the self-isolation regime on the growth of productivity, as well as a rethinking of the balance of personal, family and business components of their lives.

Now it is important to know about the real state of affairs in the economy. It is necessary to understand how effectively the 5.9 trillion allocated to fight the pandemic are being used. tenge, so as not to miss the opportunity to improve the process of spending. Investigating the experience of the US and Europe overcoming the 2008 crisis, it is necessary to use methods of quantitative easing - the addition of money by the state to the economy. This will allow the state to get out of the crisis without repeating the subsequent crisis, and to launch the economy faster. Today, countries that have learned from past crises invest 5-10 times more money in the economy than Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan should find out what sources of financing should be attracted so that citizens and businesses survive the crisis with the least losses. Many countries focus on guarantees, they take on 95% of the risks of loans to businesses. This allows banks to avoid the accumulation of toxic loans, which in the future can cause great damage to the financial system. At the same time, Kazakhstan should improve the liquidity situation by providing funds for working capital and buying back bonds from temporarily struggling enterprises. However, now there is no proper coordination in the work of the state. State budget expenditures have doubled in relation to revenues. So far, this imbalance is covered by transfers from the National Fund and small external loans. But if this dynamics continues for several more years, the state of the Kazakh economy will sharply deteriorate to nothing. In this regard, the state needs to find new sources of funding, using, for example, gold and foreign exchange reserves and assets of national holdings.

There should be an effectiveness of anti-crisis measures, where one should focus on selfsufficiency. For many years, Kazakhstan has created the necessary conditions to stimulate large- scale economic transformations, reducing its dependence on raw materials. It's time to take advantage of this for a quality breakthrough. To restore the economy of Kazakhstan, the country's leadership must use the best anti-crisis management practices. Government action must be clear and decisive.

Today, the country not only reliably provided itself with meat, milk and food, but also became one of the six countries in the world leading in grain exports. The state takes all necessary measures to overcome the existing difficulties [4].

The respondents rate the quality of government support measures as “below average”, by 4.7 points out of 10. The presented tax deferral and tax rate reduction is not an effective support measure. Among the three criteria, the “sufficiency” criterion received the lowest score; respondents noted weak coverage by industry and type of activity and various systemic barriers as barriers.

42% of business representatives noted the creation of a "Single Window", communication and consolidation of state programs as a way to improve the quality of state support. 34% of companies rate the relevance and feasibility of criteria in programs “below average”. Only 11% of companies believe that the “Tax Holidays” support measure is effective for stabilizing the financial situation. The average assessment of the effectiveness, sufficiency and timeliness of state programs from the point of view of funds and development institutions was 5.6 out of 10.

Measures of state support for business are mainly associated with the overall development strategy of the country [5]. In 2020, Kazakhstan's economy experienced a double shock - external and internal

The main external source of risk for the country is the excessive dependence of its economy on the oil and gas market. An internal shock was the introduction of quarantine measures against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent slowdown in economic activity, which affected almost all industries to one degree or another. Further processes in the economy will largely depend on the effectiveness of monetary and fiscal support measures, as well as on their ability to mitigate the negative consequences of shocks.

Over the past 20 years, the economy of Kazakhstan has been growing largely due to the continuous increase in oil production, and the current decline in production amid low oil prices has become one of the main factors in the decline in economic activity in the country [6]. The recovery of global oil demand in 2020, according to ACRA, will be slow. This is due to a decrease in the supply of goods and services compared to the pre-crisis level due to quarantine measures, as well as difficulties in terms of recovering demand due to a decrease in the population's ability to pay and a change in consumer preferences amid the pandemic.

The country may face a recession this year. Inflation dynamics will be influenced by two main factors in 2020–2024. This is the contraction of consumer demand and the devaluation potential of the tenge associated with the oil situation and the dynamics of the Russian currency exchange rate. The second factor is especially important from a long-term perspective.

The crisis will affect the growth of poverty, and will also affect the increase in inequality in Kazakhstan [7]. According to preliminary estimates, the poverty rate may increase in 2020 from the projected 8.3% to 12.7%, which means that an additional 800 thousand people will find themselves below the poverty line. The labor market shock in Kazakhstan, from both the pandemic itself and the measures to contain it, is expected to have dire consequences for employment. This will be especially true in industries that employ low-skilled workers.

This crisis, despite its negative consequences, will allow everyone to learn important lessons and will have a beneficial effect on the intensification of constructive dialogue between the state and business. It should be emphasized that the more effectively the measures of state support for business are implemented, the less borrowed funds will be required to overcome economic losses, the faster and stronger the country will emerge after the crisis.

Based on the above, the following conclusions can be drawn:

  1. The IMF forecast for a decline in real GDP in 2020 has been revised downward - from - 2.5% to -2.7%.
  2. Decline in oil revenues and consolidation in the fiscal area have led to a deterioration in the fiscal position.
  3. State budget expenditures in 2020 will almost double the budget revenues (excluding transfers from the National Fund).
  4. Only less than half of the affected small and medium-sized businesses will be able to receive state support amid the coronavirus epidemic in Kazakhstan. For the rest, no help is available.
  5. Among the measures announced by the state, there are practically no measures to support big business, despite the fact that it is big business that generates 80% of all tax revenues and employs more than 60% of the country's working-age population.
  6. The second wave of the disease and prolongation of re-quarantine will have a negative impact on Kazakhstan's GDP, effective demand of the population and the timing of business exit from the recession.
  7. However, there is hope (confidence) that Kazakhstan will be able to overcome this crisis and improve its position in the long term.

List of sources used:

1Coronavirus: overview of anti-crisis measures in the CIS countries www.inform.kz ›Kazinform› Analytics

2 Anti-crisis measures of the Central Asian countries to fight ... caa-network.org ›archives

3For what business criticizes state support during ... - Vlast.kz17 Jul. 2020 vlast.kz

›jekonomika› 40847-za-cto-biznes-kritikuet-go by the online magazine Vla

4Nelya Sadykova. The effectiveness of anti-crisis measures should be April 25. 2020 www.caravan.kz ›news› ehffektivnost-antikrizisnykh -...

5How effective is the state support of business in the Republic of Kazakhstan in ... July 9. Feb 2020 forbes.kz ›process› expertise ›effektivnost_mer_gos ...

6How will the economy of Kazakhstan feel on ... 12 Aug. 2020 m.forbes.kz ›process› expertise ›kak_budet_chuvstv ...

7The negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy of Kazakhstan ... www.vsemirnyjbank.org ›press-release› 2020/07/22.

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