Doing Business 2011 - Top Reformer Kazakhstan Tackles Bold Reform Agenda

January 31, 2011

Kazakhstan has implemented bold reforms, earning top reformer status in Doing Business 2011 and improving its overall ranking on ease of doing business from 74th in Doing Business 2010 to 59th in the 2011 report. By June 2010, the working groups had delivered a second round of reforms to encourage new firm start-up, reducing the minimum paid-in capital requirement from about $900 to less than a dollar. The government eliminated notarization fees, reducing the cost of setting up a business from 5 to 1 percent of per capita income. It created a one-stop shop for construction permits and started to enforce a risk-based system for permits, allowing enforcement agencies to focus on larger building applications and hence eliminating, on average, 20 days in the process.

Among other reforms, the government modernized the law on Joint Stock Companies and the law on Accounting and Financial Reports. The new legislation strengthens disclosure requirements between interested parties to a transaction. Other provisions of the law will push private companies to comply with internationally accepted reporting standards, improving governance practices in the private sector.

Over the past decade, Kazakhstan has made a radical shift away from its reliance on extractive industries toward a more open and diversified economy. In developing a business climate that can attract foreign investment, promote competitiveness, and encourage new firm creation, the government has been careful not to overlook smaller businesses, which had struggled under a centrally planned economy and more recently suffered the impacts of the financial crisis.

Prime Minister Karim Masimov took the challenge of Doing Business reform into his own hands, beginning in 2008 when he created five specialized working groups on seven topics under Deputy Prime Minister Yerbol Orynbayev. The working groups were tasked with delivering reform proposals within set timeframes and strict reporting requirements. With World Bank Group support, technical advice was provided on specific indicators and helped the working groups develop a comprehensive reform plan with a clear set of targets and priorities.