Recently, various scandals have hit the leaders of the Pavlodar oblast. They are accused of a range of misdemeanors. Last week, for example, the deputy Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov was accused of accepting bribes when he was working as the Akim of the oblast.
What has the parliamentarian accused the deputy PM of? Why is the Prime Minister protecting his deputy so closely? On February 23, at a joint Parliamentary meeting the parliamentarian Serik Abdrakhmanov asked Tokaev a question about corruption amongst government workers.
Another mazhilisman, Serikbai Alibaev then claimed that Danial Akhmetov was guilty of illegal conduct and of lobbying foreign investors when he had been the Akim of the Pavlodar oblast.
To find an answer these questions, we interviewed the parliamentarian Serikbai Alibaev.
- What grounds do you have to accuse the deputy Prime Minister?
- When the most important regional assets were being transferred to foreign companies, Akhmetov was the oblast Akim. Officially, we were still the owners of the property and the investors were here to manage, but in fact some were given things for next to nothing. For example, and I mentioned this to the PM, there is a big power station in Ekibastuz. It cost tens of billions of tenge, but it was sold for 15 million tenge. Also Access Industries bought the open-cast mine almost for free.
All documents clearly show that the seller was the oblast Akim, while the buyer that represented the different companies was the Akim�s son-in-law. Is this not slightly strange?
The conditions of the oblast population are very harsh and these agreements obviously did not serve their interests. For example, 1 hecacalorie of heat in Ekibastuz costs 1,900 tenge, while in Pavlodar � only 900 tenge. The town is literally built on coal, but what are the prices? Why are they so high?
- Are you satisfied with the PM�s reply to the accusations against Akhmetov?
- No I am not. I asked Tokaev if such people had the right to occupy high state posts? If he does not believe me, he should meet me personally. Give me a time tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.
It is easy to conclude whether this man is guilty or innocent, if all available documents are considered.
The Ekibastuz Power Electric Station that costs about 10 billion tenge was transferred to the US company Access Industries. The agreement was signed by the Akim Akhmetov, with his son-in-law Bekturov representing the company. According to the agreement, the company paid 15 million tenge. Investors took over the station, but did not undertake any responsibilities for investments. According to the agreement, the company agreed to invest in boiler-houses as an effort to stabilize the economic conditions. Nevertheless, the PM did not consider these documents and he refuted all accusations against his deputy: �I decisively reject all of your statements about him being corrupt.�
In Tokaev�s opinion, only if special bodies or the Office of the Public Prosecutor accuse him, should his deputy be made answerable and punished: �If law-enforcement bodies decide that Akhmetov is a bribe-taker, we will take the corresponding action.�
The Prime Minister said that he praised business and moral features of his deputy: �I want to say you that I appreciate the moral and professional features of my deputy, Akhmetov. I rely on him greatly as the operator of industry and agriculture working in the government.�
According to the parliamentarian, by protecting his deputy the Prime Minister is possibly protecting the interests of Access Industries: �How can he be so confident in honesty of the man who has been working in the government only for 3 months and protect him so closely? It makes me think.�
Speaking in the Parliament, Kasymzhomart Tokaev openly said that when he had been the Minister of Foreign Affairs he had dealt with foreign investments, in particular with Access Industries: �After I was entitled to supervise investments, I became acquainted with representatives of this company; and I studied the questions that they raised.�
The accused deputy Prime Minister stated that: �There is no problem. I will not comment on it, as there is nothing to comment on.� According to Akhmetov, all accusations against him are not grounded. He did not feel guilty. If he were guilty, he would try to excuse himself: �but I have nothing to put right, as this is nonsense.�
The parliamentarian Alibaev gave another example of the corruption: �There is a large bakery in Ekibastuz. The bakery was sold at an undervalued price of 7.5 million tenge. Assets sold at a low price are detrimental. How can be the bakery that provides 85% of these products in the town be sold off like that? He has a lot of relatives. To have relatives is of course, good, but I do not think he has the right to give away people�s property. In 1998 we examined the venture�s operations and found that they earned 30 million tenge by deceiving customers. All documents have been submitted to the oblast Office of the Public Prosecutor. For the time being we have not received any answer.�
Replying to the parliamentarian, Kasymzhomart Tokaev said: �On the whole, the Pavlodar oblast is a difficult case. I have noticed that relations between people are very complex in this oblast.� He perhaps meant that these accusations against Akhmetov concerned personal relations between the two men. Despite Alibaev�s working as Akhmetov�s deputy at the time, the parliamentarian has other reasons to blame the deputy Prime Minister: �Yes, I worked as his deputy, but I did not support the way the privatization was carried out in the oblast. I wrote to the press about this. I also worked with the chairman of the Committee on State Property, and it was perhaps because of this that I caused some discomfort to the Akim. But when I worked there were no trials over privatization. Later, when I resigned, documents for 70 illegally privatized entities were considered by the court.�
Once acquainted with the positions of both parties, readers will no doubt find the truth themselves. We know that the tax privileges that Access Industries gained at the open-cast mine in Bogatyr and the Ekibastuz power electric station negatively affected the social-economic situation in Ekibastuz. The town Akim Arbiev who failed to prove this to the country�s leader, later resigned. Most probably, no one will be any the wiser after this scandal; as was the case with the story of the illegal sale of MIGs.
THE GLOBE based on materials from the Kazakh Service of Radio Liberty
(Translated from Kazakh by THE GLOBE, a brief variant)
UST-KAMENOGORSK, March 5
�The Cossacks never supported illegal power,� an eastern Kazakhstani Cossack spokesman said. Hence, they did not participate at all in the well-known events in Ust-Kamenogorsk. According to the Cossacks, unscrupulous politicians prepared that coup d�etat. Separatists tried to contact with the Cossack movement in the oblast, offering one of the atamans to head the planned event.
The Cossacks are absolutely satisfied with the present regime. However, they still have some friction with the local authorities. Many functionaries consider Cossacks as a definite force able to conduct real events. Nevertheless, this is not true.
There is no organized Cossack union in Eastern Kazakhstan. The Cossacks say that recently people are rather occupied with merely everyday problems. Hence, common people are disconnected with the Cossack movement. One stanitsa consists of about 10 to 15 Cossacks, including the ataman.
�We are surprised that the Kazakhs respect us more than the Russians do,� one of the atamans said.
ALMATY, March 6 (THE GLOBE)
On Monday the National Bank chairman announced that in February inflation had been 0.1%. that was the lowest level since September 1999.
Grigory Marchenko stressed that the low inflation tempo (in January it came to 2.6%) was predetermined by comparative stability of the national currency and tariffs of natural monopolies, as well as an abrupt reduction of monetary base in the late February.
According to Marchenko, in February the tenge�s exchange rate reduced by 0.76% and as of the end of the month it was 140.44 tenge per 1 dollar. Banks conducted main operations outside the stock exchange. During this period a significant excess of liquidity observed in the inter-banking market. The volume of deposits exceeded the operation volume registered in January by 83.2%, and came to 15.2 billion tenge.
Grigory Marchenko said that in February at auctions for the Finance Ministry�s tenge liabilities securities worthy 2 billion tenge placed. The demand exceeded the offer 1.6 times. The demand for hard currency state securities of the Finance Ministry was 4.7 times higher than the corresponding offer. The placement volume was US$ 29.8 million; the hard currency liabilities in circulation reached US$ 149.4 million (excluding special 5-years securities).
The NB chairman emphasized that in January the population�s deposits grew by 3.5% mainly due to deposits with fixed period. Contrary to the expectations, after the conversion term of deposits of individuals agreed not to withdraw money within 9 months after the introduction of the free-floating rate, they left deposits in banks. According to the NB�s estimations, by the end of the year the population�s deposit will be about US$ 700 to 800 million.
In January the total volume of credits grew, said Marchenko. Banking credits to the economy increased by 1.6%, i.e. were 151.1 billion tenge. Despite stabilization of the exchanger rate, banks still increase credits of the real sector in hard currency. The volume of hard currency credits grew by 2.1% and came to US$ 588 million, i.e. 54.2% of the total volume.
UST-KAMENOGORSK, March 4
�The problem of separatism is not interesting for me,� the Akim of Ust-Kamenogorsk Vera Suhorukova said on Saturday. The Akim stressed that the town population had not and did not support these moods. The Akim shares the position of special services regarding this problem and at present prefers to ignore it.
The main problem for the town is �pensioners� high activity�, the Akim said. Of 320,000 population of the town, 100,000 receive pensions and grants. Nevertheless, Suhorukova thinks that pensioners of the town live better than in other regions of the country. She mentioned a higher income per capita as one of the reasons for this.
In 1999 the profit per capita in Ust-Kamenogorsk trended towards growth and by the beginning of 2000 it was 5,741 tenge. In this regard the town is the third after Astana and Almaty.
The tariff policy of the town authorities is also noteworthy. In 1999 the tariffs of municipal services increased in July and October. Services of Vodokanal grew by 10%, cost of telecommunication services increased by 20%, while gas prices fell by 3%. The analysis of the tariff policy on municipal services in 9 oblasts indicates that Ust-Kamenogorsk has the lowest heating tariff, cold water and canalization (see the Table).
Tariffs of municipal services as of January 1, 2000:
nogorsk Astana Almaty Aktobe ganda Pavlodar
Heating, tenge per 1 sq. m. 26.8 37.8 30.67 30.2 39.15 31.23
Cold water and canalization,
tenge per 1 person 155 221 296.1 219 395.93 226.9
Electricity, 100 KWt/H 270 384 403 480 300 258
Gas, tenge/kg 24.28 22.33 13.33 6.66 23 25.6
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