ASTANA – More than 17,000 jobs were created last year as part of the Business Roadmap 2020 programme, aimed at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), said Minister of National Economy Timur Suleimenov at a February 6th press conference in Astana.

Last year, more than 192,000 entrepreneurs received support from the business roadmap programme, which was 10 percent more than in 2016.

The interest rate subsidies on the loan portfolio and guaranteeing loans was 286.6 billion tenge (US$888 million). Overall, 3,351 projects were supported, 10 percent more than in 2016. Around 276 grants, worth 490 million tenge (US$1.5 million), were allocated and infrastructure worth 12.1 billion tenge (US$37 million) was provided for 25 projects. Nearly 74,800 entrepreneurs participated in training programmes.

“At the end of 2017, items worth 3.5 trillion tenge (US$11 billion) were produced by project participants, more than 17,300 jobs were created and taxes amounting to 217 billion tenge (US$673 million) were paid,” said Suleimenov, adding that small and medium-sized business development was a priority for the ministry.

The SME sector is the main source of employment and attracting further investment in the sector is one of the main priorities for the Ministry. Our focus includes streamlining regulations, improving the business climate, increasing access to finance, improving support measures and removing barriers in industry.

A draft law consisting of about 1,000 amendments for 100 laws and 13 codes was developed. It includes reforms to state control and supervision, the reduction of reports submitted by entrepreneurs, the reduction of upfront business costs, the elimination of exclusive rights of market entities that can impede competition and the improvement of Kazakhstan’s position in the World Bank’s Doing Business rating.

“The availability of business financing is of great importance. The Business Road Map 2020 initiative, the Productive Employment and Mass Entrepreneurship Development programme and loans provided by international financial organisations are the key tools here,” the Minister of National Economy noted.

The creation of a single support measures platform is currently underway in cooperation with the Ministry for Investment and Development, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs as part of the Digital Kazakhstan programme.

A list of 52 support tools have been identified and digitisation will make these tools accessible, reduce the risk of corruption across the sector and increase the coverage of business entities.

According to the Committee of Statistics, the number of SME businesses operating in Kazakhstan totalled 1,145,994 last year, 3.6 percent more than in 2016. Production also significantly increased with output totaling 14.4 trillion tenge (US$45 billion) in a nine-month period, 28.5 percent more compared to 2016.