Economic prerequisites for civil solidarity
Keel. May 23. KazTAG – Igor Kindop. The unauthorized meetings against changes to the Land code did not take place in Almaty and Astana. The authorities hurled all the efforts not to allow people to gather and hold a demand against them in the country’s largest cities. This showed, after all, the authorities are scared of the unanticipated developments.
A kind of a sore consensus and a special kind of political agreement have been formed in Kazakhstan for a long time: the citizens do not interfere with the authorities, the latter do not bother the citizens with the taxes and the grey economy persecution. The grey economy is growing along with the official one, and from year to year, as the Statistics Committee shows, makes around 20%, that is, not decreasing.
Indeed, the Kazakhstani government shall weigh the interests of domestic and foreign policy and act in accordance with these interests. In purely political terms Kazakhstan could not succeed in domestic policy and an authoritarian approach to problem solving got formed in the country. Being successful at the beginning, the foreign policy also meets with a reverse at present.
An example is the transfer of the initiative on solving the problems on Eastern Ukraine from Astana to Minsk. In economic terms, as a result of the richest resources sale, for some time, Kazakhstan was able to achieve success and assert itself in the world. But the world’s commodity markets have cooled, and with huge efforts the Central Asian tiger tries to show it does not have a pneumonia, though everyone understands it’s a one-man show.
In my opinion, these events make it clear that the authorities ultimately do not want to learn from their mistakes. Few people remember that the issue of transfer of 1 million hectares to the Chinese investors as a long-term lease for soybeans and rapeseed growing raised in the information field of Kazakhstan back in late 2009. That time the citizens immediately reacted to this information. Surprisingly, but this year no one took that reaction into account.
Both then and now the country was in a deep economic crisis. And both then and now the unwillingness to learn from one’s mistakes is expressed in the form of a maxim: the economic growth whatever it takes. There are several reasons for Kazakhstan to need an economic growth. First, the authorities shall declare their existence and stability and demand their recognition to be expressed in the investment flows.
Second, the economic growth will allow citizens not to stop their involvement in the grey economy’s simple mechanisms and proceed getting their under-the-counter earnings. The slowdown affects both the investment flows that are slowed down and dry out and the moods of the ordinary people who get nervous and think about the reasons behind their disastrous states.
A lack of sources for growth makes the authorities to think how the economic growth could be provided through the habitual, i.e. extensive way. Thus, a sale/long-term lease of land becomes an absolutely natural, logical and rational proposal. Though only under the extensive development model. In truth, there is nothing else left for sale: minerals are not wanted, and we haven’t learned to do anything.
Surprisingly, but there is a truly Leninist situation gradually matures in Kazakhstan. “Those at the top cannot manage the old way – meaning the ruling class’s inability to maintain its domination. The masses do not want to live in the old way – thus, a sharp aggravation of needs and distresses of the oppressed classes and their desire to change their lives for the better. A significant increase in activity of the masses are drawn both by the whole circumstances of the crisis and by the “upper classes” themselves into independent historical actions” (quote from Wikipedia – KazTAG).
The authorities crossed the invisible border and touched people’s sore spot. And this happened not because the authority wants to sell everything and get rich. The major reason is they do not realize the state capitalism and patronage model, which used to dominate for the years, went bankrupt back in 2007.
There is an expression that the crowd’s intelligence is equal to the intelligence of its stupidest representative. Apparently, this expression can be applied to our government. Despite the fact that Kazakhstani ministers are often smart people with several higher educational degrees, the country’s economic policy does not change any way.
For a long time the participants of the political Olympus have been circulating in the government as in a kind of swamp. The reasons for their buoyancy is the ability to tell interesting tales about the future well-being and the greatness that for sure will be achieved through their fantastic ideas. A good example is an unsinkable Kairat Kelimbetov. Today he puts into practice the idea of phantasmagoric world financial center in Astana, though for the majority of realistic people employed in the financial sector a failure of this enterprise is evident. At the same time no one cares that the problems of the National Bank and a huge drop in the exchange rate are primarily caused by his unclear monetary policy.
This example shows pretty well how different are the realities of a healthy person and a government official. In fact, the only way to normalize and stabilize the situation in a society will be the formation of the program of gradual economic reforms and, in particular, the formation of healthy economic institutions.
For non-specialist the concept of economic institutions looks somewhat blurry, but first of all it implies creation of conditions for the implementation of the citizens’ rights and freedoms. The events of last week clearly showed that instead of creating institutions, our government is tightening the screws.
The generations of the 80-s and 90-s can easily be called a “lost” generation of Kazakhstan. Our childhood was spent in an atmosphere of statehood development, our juvenility – in an atmosphere of burgeoning corruption, and the youth – against the backdrop of the crisis caused by the incompetent politics of eating the resources accumulated. Many of us believe that stealing and taking bribes is good, and a good “show-off” is more valuable than money. I’d like to believe that the next generation will not be “lost”, but will be able to realize their rights and freedoms fully and on a par with their counterparts from the developed countries of the West. But for this they need institutions.