Press Release: IMF Managing Director Horst Köhler's Statement at the Conclusion of His Visit to the Republic of Kazakhstan

November 14, 2003

Horst Köhler, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, made the following statement today in Almaty:

"My visit underlines the importance the IMF attaches to its strong relations with Kazakhstan. It was a pleasure for me to participate in the conference on the tenge, whose introduction 10 years ago marked not only an economic milestone but also a major step in the development of a new nation, and I paid tribute to the National Bank of Kazakhstan and its Governor for the success of the currency.

"During my visit, I had the privilege of fruitful discussions with His Excellency President Nursultan Nazarbayev and members of his economic team. I congratulated the President and the authorities on Kazakhstan's economic progress over the past 10 years, which have seen rapid growth and increases in living standards, thanks to the country's oil wealth, implementation of structural reforms and prudent macroeconomic management. Kazakhstan is now well advanced in its transition to a market economy.

"In our discussions, we agreed that building on these achievements and continuing the progress of structural reforms gives Kazakhstan the promise of a brighter future for its people. We also discussed the policies needed for the country's further integration into the region and the world economy. I support Kazakhstan's strategy of using its substantial oil wealth to diversify its economy through development of a vibrant private sector, built around small and medium-sized enterprises, and through an efficient public sector investment program. These policies, together with strengthening public sector institutions, raising education and health standards, and building a stronger social safety net, will allow Kazakhstan to continue to reduce poverty and to put its oil wealth to the benefit of current and future generations.

"In this regard, the National Fund of the Republic of Kazakhstan will play an important role in the management of natural resources. I strongly recommend that Kazakhstan continue its path to transparency and good governance, in particular in the oil sector.

"I had the opportunity to discuss Kazakhstan's exchange rate policies. I share the authorities' view that it will be in the country's best interests to allow for greater flexibility in the exchange rate system. This would improve the National Bank's control over money and credit growth, and would serve as a shock absorber to cushion Kazakhstan as it becomes more integrated with the global economy.

"I come to Kazakhstan at the end of a visit to Armenia, Russia and Central Asia, where the leaders all told me of their desire to deepen regional cooperation. Turning this goal into a reality holds out the promise of higher sustained growth and higher living standards for all the countries of region. We at the IMF stand ready to help."


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