Stock market development high priority for Astana
WASHINGTON, DC. April 12. KAZINFORM. The further development of Kazakhstan’s fledgling stock market is increasingly viewed as one of the Government’s highest priorities and a mechanism for boosting the prospects of Almaty as the regional financial center. In his February 28 annual state of the nation address, President Nursultan Nazarbayev instructed the Government to develop a set of measures promoting stock market development through the attraction of Kazakh people’s assets. In a wide ranging interview with Kazakhstan’s TV channels on April 9, the President said participation of the Kazakh people in their stock market is crucial for its existence, «I know our people hold huge amounts of money. Our banks’ capitalization has reached 70 percent of Kazakhstan’s GDP. Our pension funds hold about seven billion dollars. We estimate our people still hold in their homes approximately 10 to 12 billion dollars. These monies need to be involved in turnover, but we need to teach our people how to do that.» Citing the experience of the United States, where 45 percent of the population own stock, the President said, «We need to make sure our people understand the mechanism of a stock exchange and view their participation in this process as one of the means to get richer.» At an April 10 Cabinet meeting in Astana, Prime Minister Karim Massimov set the timeframe of two weeks for the Government to finalize a draft program for the development of the stock market. It will include proposed amendments in legislation and outline budget expenditures for this work, Kazinform cites Kazakhstan News Bulletin released weekly by the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In the meantime, the Government has already taken steps to ensure more shares are traded at the country’s stock exchange, the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KASE), in Almaty. Last year, the Government listed a portion of its equity in Kazakhtelecom, the national telecommunications company, at KASE. In late March, the Prime Minister instructed the Finance Ministry to sell 0.8 percent of shares in Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), one of the largest industrial conglomerates in the country. The Government currently controls 24.8 percent of ENRC, which runs the largest aluminum and chromium plants in Kazakhstan. Additionally, the Samruk and KazAgro holdings and the Kazyna Sustainable Development Fund were asked to prepare proposals to sell shares of companies they hold. The companies, whose shares are managed by these holdings, include KazMunaiGaz, the national oil and gas company, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, the national railway operator, KEGOK, the national energy grid company, and others. The Kazyna Fund manages all the development institutions in Kazakhstan, including the Development Bank and the Innovation Fund. As of December 2006, 2,160 companies issued their shares in Kazakhstan with a total nominal cost of 876.6 billion tenge (US$1=123 tenge). The institutional infrastructure of the country’s stock market includes KASE, a central depositary, 65 broker companies, 17 registrars, 10 custodian banks, 12 companies managing pension funds’ assets, and 35 organizations managing investment portfolios.