GOVERNMENT: Kazakhstan increases share of home-produced materials in construction

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ASTANA. KAZINFORM - Kazakhstan increases share of home-produced materials in construction up to 80%. Life expectancy in Kazakhstan exceeds 70 years, but it still lags behind the OECD member states. Kazakhstan increase projected oil price up to $35 per barrel in 2016.

On Tuesday, Bakytzhan Sagintayev, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, met with Emeritus Senior Minister and Member of the Singaporean Parliament Goh Chok Tong in Astana.

At the meeting, the sides noted importance of stepping up economic and investment cooperation between Kazakhstan and Singapore and creation of favorable conditions for increasing mutual trade volume.

Bakytzhan Sagintayev and Goh Chok Tong defined the prospects of partnership in high technologies sector through the national welfare funds and development institutes.

Additionally, they discussed the opportunities of exchange of experience in regulation of financial services and monitoring and interaction in the field of science and education.

The same day Prime Minister Sagintayev instructed to increase share of home-produced materials in construction up to 80%. He noted that the use of home-produced construction materials is of paramount importance.

"Their share now comprises 50% only. We need to increase this indicator to 80%. The operators of the national housing programs and developers must keep this issue under constant control. Our construction enterprises must be competitive both in prices and quality," said Sagintayev adding that if Kazakhstan raises this index to 80%, it will hugely support local companies producing construction materials.

The Head of the Kazakh Government also charged to finished construction of all social facilities by December 16, the day when Kazakhstan will mark 25 years of its independence.

"As it was reported today, as many as 1mln families have bought housing within 25 years of independence. 1,400 schools and 1,300 healthcare facilities have been built. Now we need to finish the construction of all social facilities by the day of celebration of the 25th jubilee of our independence - December 16," stressed Sagintayev.

The Prime Minister instructed the governors of regions and mayors of cities to draft propositions and reports regarding Nurly Zher governmental program and submit them in the nearest time.

On Tuesday Minister of Education and Science of Kazakhstan Yerlan Sagadiyev spoke about the changes in the Unified National Testing (UNT) in the upcoming year.

"There is no final UNT project yet. It will be widely discussed by the teaching community. The document is now ready for discussing. We offer the school students to take final examinations at schools. As for the UNT, changes will be made in the structure of questions," the Minister explained.

According to him, the UNT will consist of more than 100 questions, 60 of which will be standard ones (relating to math, reading speed, understanding etc.) The other 60 questions will be divided into two blocks of 30 questions which will be linked to future major of the school leaver.

"The project is being now discussed by a narrow group of teaching staff. Later we will publish it on the website of the Ministry for comments and remarks," Sagadiyev concluded.

Minister Sagadiyev also added that starting from 2018 Kazakhstan will need more schools.

"As of October 1, 2015, there were 156 schools in advanced state of disrepair countrywide. These schools mostly situated in Almaty and South Kazakhstan regions are to be demolished by late 2018. Six new schools were constructed in Kazakhstan in 2015. In 2016, there have already been build 51 schools. 99 more will be built next year. The number of schoolchildren in urban areas is growing steadily. That is why we believe more schools should be constructed in the cities," Minister Sagadiyev said at the session of the Kazakh Government on Tuesday.

In his words, a special map showing which regions of the country lack schools have been developed. Based on the map, at least 50 new schools should be built in Kazakhstan annually starting from 2018.

The minister also revealed that based on the results of a monitoring carried out by the ministry it had not used 3 billion tenge earmarked by the Government over the past eight months.

The same day Minister of Healthcare and Social Develop Tamara Duissenova revealed that Kazakhstani schoolchildren will be drug-tested in schools. In her words, the corresponding statuary provision was included into the amendments to the draft law on mandatory medical insurance by the ministry.

"Based on the draft law the Ministry of Education and Science will no longer be responsible for medical care in schools," said Healthcare and Social Development Minister Tamara Duissenova adding that her ministry will supervise it.

"Starting from January 1, 2018, the state will earmark funds for children in the medical insurance foundation," she said.

According to Minister Duissenova, the first aid rooms in schools previously supervised by the Education Ministry will be governed by local polyclinics. The polyclinics will hire health workers for schools as well. Students' unified health registry will be introduced and integrated into the general healthcare data system.

"Specialists from the polyclinics will be responsible for healthcare check of students as well as smoking, alcohol and drug testing," she explained.

Minister Duissenova also added that there are plans to improve medical services offered to children in schools.

On Wednesday Minister of National Economy Kuandyk Bishimbayev participated in the plenary session of the Majilis of the Kazakh Parliament where he revealed that the projected oil price was increased up to $35 per barrel in 2016.

"Given the current situation in the global economy and results of the development of Kazakhstan's economy since the beginning of 2016, we have revised the forecast of macroeconomic indexes for 2016. Year-average oil price increased from $30 to $35 per barrel. Index of changes in ore prices dropped from 15.0% to 12.7%. Yearly average dollar exchange rate remained at the level of KZT 360 per $1. Volume of expected oil output increased from 74 million tons to 75.5 million tons. It was affected by the surge in year-average oil price and the launch of the Kashagan oil field in October 2016. The GDP growth will be 0.5% in accordance with the forecast made earlier," the minister said.

In his words, nominal GDP is forecast to reach KZT 44 354 billion, that is KZT 187 billion than in the forecast approved in February 2016. GDP per capita will make $6,900.

Healthcare Minister Tamara Duissenova participated in the forum themed "Reform of Healthcare in Kazakhstan: protecting nation's health" in Astana the same day. At the forum she declared that life expectancy in Kazakhstan has exceeded 70 years. However Kazakhstan still lags behind the OECD member countries in that respect.

"In terms of maternal and infant mortality we lag behind those countries we try to emulate," admitted Duissenova. In her words, the expected lifespan in Kazakhstan exceeded 70 years and mortality rate decreased by 15.3% thanks to implementation of two state programs of healthcare development in 2005-2015.

Minister Duissenova reminded that the ministry proceeded to the implementation of the new State Program "Densaulyk" for 2016-2019 aimed at further deepening of reforms in the sphere of healthcare. Within the framework of the new program and based on the experience of the OECD member states and recommendations of the World Bank and WHO, Kazakhstan will introduce the Public Health Service.

According to the minister, starting from 2018 pharmaceuticals made in Kazakhstan will be examined for compliance with the international standards.

Prime Miniser Sagintayev chaired the meeting of the governmental commission for EXPO 2017 organization on Thursday. Attending the meeting were akims (governors) of the regions and mayors of Astana and Almaty.

The participants discussed the work of the local executive authorities and operational headquarters of the governmental structures on preparation for the EXPO 2017 in Astana. The meeting also focused on promotion of the exhibition, volunteers' activity, development of tour packages, readiness of the Astana facilities to accept guests, construction of a passenger terminal at the Astana International Airport, readiness of the hotels and logistics facilities and other issues.

In conclusion, the Premier commissioned executive bodies to ensure close control over the EXPO 2017 organization and to finish construction of the EXPO 2017 venues on time.

Afterwards, Bakytzhan Sagintayev met with members of the Industrial Development Commission and heads of leading IT companies.

The members of the commission discussed the issues of updating the Industrial Map for 2015-2019. At the meeting with IT specialists, the sides debated the prospects of development of domestic IT market, support for start-up projects, development of software products, stimulation of private investment and information security.

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