Astana, Sep 1 (EFE).- Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Friday called for strengthening the nation’s defensive capabilities and emphasized the economic achievements of 2022 in his annual address to a joint session of the two chambers of Parliament.
“Our military should be equipped with high-tech military gear and weaponry, including armored vehicles, drones, and modern weapons,” the president said.
He noted that Kazakhstan plans to accelerate the enhancement of its defense industry.
“It’s essential to boost productive capacities for repairing military equipment and to increase support for domestic companies,” Tokayev said.
Despite geopolitical challenges, the Kazakh leader pointed out that the country demonstrates a positive trend across all key economic indicators.
Last year, he highlighted, Kazakhstan’s GDP reached 103 trillion tenge, approximately $225.5 billion at the current exchange rate. The nation attracted a record-breaking direct investment of $28 billion.
Kazakhstan’s trade reached an all-time high, amounting to $136 billion, with exports accounting for $84 billion.
“The most crucial task at this stage is to establish a strong industrial foundation and ensure economic self-reliance. Therefore, we need to emphasize the rapid development of the manufacturing sector,” he said.
To support the manufacturing sector, the president proposed exempting both domestic and foreign investors from taxes and other mandatory payments for the first three years.
Tokayev underscored the importance of focusing on metallurgy, crude oil refining, the carbon chemical industry, uranium enrichment, fertilizer production, and automotive industry components.
He tasked the government with expanding the geological survey area from the current 1.5 million square kilometers to 2.2 million by 2026.
“One of the top priorities should be exploiting rare earth deposits, which essentially have become the new oil,” he emphasized.
Furthermore, Tokayev suggested holding a referendum on building a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan. This issue has been controversial, as parts of the Kazakh population experienced the aftermath of Soviet nuclear tests in the Semipalatinsk test site.
“The decision to build or not to build a nuclear plant is extremely vital for our nation,” he argued.
He explained that while Kazakhstan, as the world’s leading uranium producer, should have a nuclear plant, many citizens and experts doubt the safety of such facilities. This concern, he emphasized, is “understandable considering the tragic legacy of the Semipalatinsk nuclear site.” EFE