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Kashistan? Half-a-million Kazakhs have debts paid by the government

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By Marika Dimitriadi  & Alastair Jamieson
Downtown Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
Downtown Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan   -   Copyright  REUTERS

Half-a-million Kazakhs are to have their debts paid by the government as a “one-time action” to help some of the central Asian country’s poorest, ministers announced.

Svetlana Zhakupova, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Protection, said the state would use budgetary funds to repay up to 105 billion Kazakh tenge (KZT) — equivalent to about €245m — owed on loans or other arrears.

It follows a presidential decree signed in June by President Kasym-Jomart Tokayev, who said it would “reduce the debt burden on citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan".

The measure is aimed at orphans, large families, those with disabilities or socially vulnerable families that receive assistance because of the loss of a breadwinner.

The president warned it was a "one-time action".

Those eligible must have debts not exceeding three million KZT (€7,000) as of June 1, 2019. The state will repay the debt and interest up to a maximum of 300,000 KZT (€700).

Metals-rich Kazakhstan is one of the most prosperous in central Asia and is 57th out of 144 countries n the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Ranking — ahead of Cyprus, Hungary and Romania.

The average annual income is 3.03 million KTZ, according to World Bank data — equivalent to about €7,062.

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