Russians: we can only dream about Kazakhstani salaries


Kazakhstan imposed a 45-day embargo on Russian oil, as the increase in Russian fuel imports poses problems for local producers.

After last year`s devaluation the tenge depreciated by nearly a quarter. But at the end of 2014 the ruble collapsed and cheap Russian cars, metals, food, gasoline flooded Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstani businessmen even requested the authorities to ban the import of goods from Russia. The first step has already been taken: one and a half month embargo was imposed on Russian oil, although it is contrary to the principles of the Eurasian Economic Community which includes Kazakhstan.

Chief research officer of Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies Konstantin Syroyezhkin says that in Kazakhstan there`s a fear that once the ruble falls, the tenge will fall as well. Thus, the standard of living will decline, because salaries won`t be raised.

At the beginning of the previous year, before the ruble collapse and the tenge devaluation, the average salary in Kazakhstan amounted to $670, and to $850 in Russia. Then the Kazakhstan Central Bank devalued the national currency, at the same time earnings in the country increased. After a sharp currency depreciation the tenge stabilized. At the moment Kazakhstanis earn $830 on the average, and Russians - $515.

Now Kazakhstan is developing a major anti-crisis program related to the sphere of construction among others. High salaries may attract specialists from Russia and Ukraine. But the official macroeconomic indicators of the country can be far from reality, says the Kazakhstani expert Azhdar Kurtov.

"Theoretically, the average salary should be higher than in Russia. Kazakhstan produces more oil than Russia. Not in general but per capita. But Russia has to spend money on national defense. Kazakhstan doesn`t have this burden, still the salary in Kazakhstan doesn`t reach the level of that in Russia. Russian economy is more diversified, and overcoming the crisis is much more possible than in Kazakhstan," explained Kurtov.

The National Bank of Kazakhstan announced the plans to de-dollarize the economy to get rid of macroeconomic instability. Local financial experts say that another devaluation would stimulate export and reduce import. Experts believe the clan system to be a big problem of Kazakhstan`s economy. This is an impediment to investments and an advantage at the same time. Elites seek to hand down their assets and are not interested in their leaving the country.

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