Page Last Updated:12-04-2002
SSMEP INITIATES STEPS TO IMPROVE QUALITY OF ORE PRODUCTION
The Sokolov-Sarbay Mining-Enrichment Plant has launched a modernization
program to improve the quality of its iron ore by improving the quality of its
ore preparation and processing, Interfax reported citing the SSMEP press
service. The program is designed to raise the iron content in ore concentrate
from the current 66.5% to 68.5%. The two-phase program is aimed at promoting the
competitiveness of the plant's production and defending the plant's position on
its traditional distribution markets.2 April 2002
KAZAKHSTAN TO CLOSE SECRET FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNT IN APRIL
The Kazakhstani government will transfer the remaining monetary reserves from
a recently unveiled secret foreign bank account opened in 1996 to the National
Fund later this month, National Bank Chairman Grigoriy Marchenko told
As the NewsWire previously reported, Kazakhstani Prime Minister Imangali
Tasmagambetov last week revealed that Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev
had established the secret foreign fund in 1996 using the USD 1 B in proceeds
from the sale of a 20% interest in the Tengizchevroil oil production venture.
Tasmagambetov said that the secret fund twice saved the country from financial
ruin, and he emphasized that neither the president nor his family benefited
personally from the foreign account.
The Kazakhstani government established the National Fund in early 2001 using
the USD 660 MM received from a sale of a 5% state stake in Tengizchevroil The
fund currently holds some USD 1.3 B. Neither the National Bank chairman nor the
prime minister have specified the amount the National Fund could expect to
receive from the government's heretofore secret bank account.
10 April 2002
GOVERNMENT LOOKING TO RETAKE CONTROL OF POWER SECTOR?
The Kazakhstani government is hatching a plan to re-impose state management
over the power generation sector, Reuters reported citing remarks by Kazakhstani
Prime Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov.
Speaking to reporters in Ust-Kamenogorsk on April 5, Tasmagambetov singled
out American energy giant AES Corp., one of the few remaining foreign investors
in Kazakhstan's power generation sector, for particular criticism. AES manages
the Ekibastuz GRES-2 power plant as well as a number of power generation and
distribution enterprises in East Kazakhstan oblast. "We obviously will
consider both the terms of our contract as well as our general relationship with
this company," Tasmagambetov stated.
The prime minister noted that AES is currently involved in a legal dispute
over tariff issues with the East Kazakhstan oblast anti-monopoly department.
Tasmagambetov declared that the time has come for the government to reclaim
authority over the power generation sector. Over the past six year, a large
number of power companies have been sold or handed over in concession agreements
to both domestic and foreign investors, but that experiment in private
management has apparently not yielded the desired results for the
"I deeply believe that the power generation sector must return to state
management," Tasmagambetov declared.
9 April 2002
US EMBASSY EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER ABLYAZOV ARREST
The US Embassy in Kazakhstan this week issued a statement expressing the
United States' "astonishment and concern" with the recent arrest of
ex-minister of energy and Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan opposition group
leader Mukhtar Ablyazov as well as ensuing events in Almaty.
As the NewsWire previously reported, Ablyazov was arrested on March 27 by the
Kazakhstani Financial Police Agency, which is currently wrapping up an
investigation into Ablyazov's activities as head of state power grid operator
KEGOC and as minister of energy, industry and trade. Subsequently, Kazakhstani
law enforcement officials issued an arrest warrant for another DCK leader, ex-Pavlodar
oblast akim Galymzhan Zhakiyanov.
In addition, a television station with links to Ablyazov, TAN TV, was the
victim of hooliganism that interfered with the normal broadcast of the station.
Commenting on the arrest of Ablyazov, the US Embassy said it could not speculate
on the "fairness" of the charges leveled against Ablyazov, but called
for his release from pre-trial custody given the fact that he has not yet been
convicted of a crime. Moreover, the embassy expressed "serious
concerns" about the possible arrest of Galymzhan Zhakiyanov, who in the day
after Ablyazov's arrest had called for public protests.
The arrest or threatened arrest of opposition leaders and the attack by
unknown perpetrators on an independent television station all speak to possible
"attempts to intimidate" the political opposition and independent
media. The US Embassy asked the Kazakhstani government to investigate the events
of the past week and to take measures to promote democratic development, protect
the independent media and to ensure the rule of law in the republic.
2 April 2002
QUIETLY, KAZAKHSTAN TRIMS FOREIGN LABOR QUOTA
The Kazakhstani government on March 27 issued a regulation setting the quota
of foreign workers allowed in the republic at 0.14% of the "economically
active population. Last year the quota was set at 0.15% of the working
population. The foreign labor quota debate this year passed with little of the
fanfare of past years, when foreign investors were invited en masse to Ministry
of Labor meetings on the issue. Kazakhstan's "economically active
population" currently stands around 7.5 million people, meaning the cap on
foreign labor in 2002 will be approximately 10,500 individuals.9 March 2002
PRESIDENT TO SIGN DECREE CREATING AKTAU SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE
Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev is expected to issue a decree
creating a special economic zone around the Aktau Seaport (Mangystau oblast) in
the next several days, Deputy Prime Minister Karim Masimov disclosed during a
speech before parliament in Astana on March 25.
According to Masimov "the government is also considering the possibility
of investing in the construction of a grain elevator in Aktau Special Economic
Zone." Masimov told parliamentarians that a special economic zone at the
Aktau port, Kazakhstan's main Caspian Sea shipping outlet, coupled with the
construction of a new railway linking Kostanay and Aktobe oblasts to the port,
would facilitate Kazakhstani grain exports to Iran and elsewhere, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan hopes to boost grain exports to Iran to 2 million tons per year,
but will need to improve its transport infrastructure to do so, Masimov said.
The issue of grain exports and related transport infrastructure will be raised
by the Kazakhstani-Iranian intergovernmental commission, which will meet in
mid-April prior to Iranian President Mohammed Khatami's visit to Kazakhstan at
the end of April.7 March 2002