By Malika Orazgaliyeva in BUSINESS on 12 JANUARY 2016
ASTANA – In connection with Kazakhstan’s aim to become one of the top 30 most developed countries in the world, the government is striving to ensure effective efforts to attract foreign investment flow into the country. These efforts recently included two important developments, the naming of an investment ombudsman and the establishment of a one-stop shop for investors where they can get their issues addressed.
Prime Minister Karim Massimov signed a government resolution appointing current Minister of Investment and Development Asset Issekeshev to the post effective Jan. 1. The new document, inked Oct. 30, 2014, is in accordance with the law on investments dated Jan. 8, 2003.
As investment ombudsman, Issekeshev will manage a working group composed of heads and deputy heads of the General Prosecutor’s Office and all government ministries to address investment-related issues and propose legislation. Issekeshev will be guided in his activities by the Constitution, the country’s laws, as well as acts by the President and the Government.
The ombudsman’s role is to protect the rights and lawful interests of investors. His office will explain those issues to the investors and hold hearings, consultations and protocol meetings with public authorities and organisations to address them, as well as interact with the heads or deputies of the interested public authorities and organisations as he considers the investors’ appeals.
The office will analyse the appeals and results of the hearings, study the legislation and determine the regulations that violate the investor’s rights or hinder conducting business and, based on the results, make recommendations to restore the rights and interests. The results will be submitted to the relevant public authority and/or official whose actions/inactions violated the investor’s rights and interests, and recommendations will be made to restore them.
The office will also hear appeals from investors, assist them with extra-judicial and pre-trial orders and propose investor-related legislation, among other duties.
More than 50 applications from foreign and domestic investors have already been considered, almost 65 percent with positive results, according to the Ministry for Investment and Development. The remainder are in process.
An investor’s appeal should comply with the following rules. The individual shall state his or her name, mailing address and the nature of the appeal. A legal entity shall state the name, legal address, reference number and date of the appeal. The appeal shall be signed by the investor or his legal representative or certified by electronic digital signature.
In the case of filing a complaint regarding violated rights and lawful interests, the appeal shall include the name of the subject or position, surnames and initials of officials and motives and requirements of the appeal. The appeal shall be accompanied by documents and other materials confirming the investor’s requirements.
The appeal shall be considered by the investment ombudsman within 30 calendar days from the date of receipt. If necessary, he will request additional information from public authorities and organisations, except information constituting a state or commercial secret.
He may recommend the investor apply to the prosecutor’s office to inspect the legality of the decision made by the public authority or organisation. If the investor’s questions cannot be solved in accordance with the current legislation, the ombudsman may submit recommendations to the government to improve the legislation.
The new year will also see a streamlined process for investors applying for licenses and permits. Rather than the need to visit various ministries and government agencies, their interaction with authorities will be consolidated through the Investor Service Centre. The one-stop shop approach will facilitate investment activities and reduce administrative and bureaucratic barriers.
Piloted in 2015, the centre has been providing public services to investors implementing priority projects. The key elements, developed in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers, include business processes and step-by-step roadmaps in major industries to organise and provide a legal structure for investors’ activities. The centre held 200 meetings last year and expects to issue more than 363 permits and licenses. Its location on the first floor of Astana’s Transport Towers building helps facilitate public services provisions for investors.
The success of the model has encouraged expansion of the concept to cover all investors. The government is planning to implement the principle for rendering services to investors through public service centres in Astana, Almaty and the regions. Future automation and online service will be provided at www.baseinvest.kz, a database of investment projects and foreign investments. Using the website, an investor will be able to register, obtain necessary information and apply and monitor the permit/license issuing process.
Investor confidence is an important element of the economic component of Kazakhstan’s efforts to transition into one of the world’s top 30 most developed nations by 2050, as called for by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Investment, both foreign and domestic, is also crucial to the country’s plan to diversify its economy, increase industrialisation and reduce its reliance on energy-related sectors.