Nazarbayev criticizes Cabinet for bad strategic planning

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Monday criticized his Cabinet for poor strategic planning, overspending and other mistakes. Nazarbayev also signaled that the role of Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov would become weaker in the new Cabinet he formed following his re-election last month. "The quality of efficiency of (the government's) strategic planning and decisions should be improved," Nazarbayev told the first meeting of the new Cabinet. Nazarbayev said that strategic decisions from now on will be made by newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister Karim Masimov Nazarbayev's former chief aide, who is seen as one of the most influential figures in the president's inner circle.

Nazarbayev said Akhmetov, who has led the oil-rich Central Asian nation's Cabinet since 2003, would be in charge of "day-to-day issues."

"This will allow us not to lose the sight of strategic goals and at the same time to make quick decisions on everyday issues," Nazarbayev said.

Nazarbayev, who has ruled the ex-Soviet republic for 16 years, was re-elected by a landslide on Dec. 4 in a vote that was criticized by Western observers and the opposition as flawed.

Nazarbayev made all Cabinet appointments last week, retaining Akhmetov and most other ministers. He replaced, among others, the finance and oil ministers.

Free-market reforms and generous foreign investment in the vast energy sector have helped make Kazakhstan one of the most economically successful post-Soviet nations, with annual economic growth of almost 10 percent over the past several years. However, the Kazakh economy lacks transparency and is dominated by the raw materials sector.

Nazarbayev on Monday criticized the Economics Ministry for "ungrounded generosity" in spending government funds. He also criticized the Finance Ministry for failing to ensure transparency in the work of the tax police and its other branches, reports the AP.

D.M.