Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev unveiled his "100 Steps" program, which seeks to reform the country's government and financial sector to create a regional financial hub in the primarily oil-exporting country.
The program seeks to reform civil service, rule of law and economic governance, as well as create an inclusive identity in a nation with a sizable Russian minority. Russia's former finance minister German Gref was wowed by the program, saying that Russia needs to implement the same steps without any change.
"Kazakhstan began one of the most ambitious programs in the world. When I read the program, I had a feeling that I was reading the Singapore government program," the head of Russia's Sberbank said at the Astana Economic Forum.
The financial hub will also have a special legal status as a common law jurisdiction, as well as have English as an official language on its territory.
The program places a heavy emphasis on English-language corporate governance and education. High school classes will also be partially taught in English as part of the new plan.
Rule of Law
The program proposes an extensive reform of Kazakhstan's civil service which includes reforming the police and legal system. Government employees will be paid based on their accomplishments and foreign managers will be invited to work in the government.
The program also seeks to alter customs law and link it to tax law to avoid tax fraud. In addition, building codes will be updated to European standards while the licensing process will be simplified.
An Example for Others?
Sberbank head and former Russian Finance Minister German Gref was wowed by the plans, telling Kazakhstan's officials that it would be a "sin" to criticize them.
Gref also said that he would like to see the plan implemented in Russia. The economies of Russia and Kazakhstan are similar in their reliance on natural resource exports.