Preparing for flood hazards and improving business climate: What you need to know about the last Government session

Tuesday, 25 February 2020, 21:58:21

 

At the regular government session on Feb. 25, 2020, chaired by Askar Mamin, questions of preparing the central and local executive bodies for the flood period and measures to improve the business climate in the country were considered. On the sidelines, topical issues of the current agenda were discussed, and following the session, a press conference was held with the participation of representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development, Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources and RSE Kazhydromet.

During the consideration of the first issue, the prime minister was informed that the state continues to prepare for the upcoming flood period.

To date, reserves of 13.5 thousand tons of fuels and lubricants, 152.6 thousand tons of inert materials, 840 thousand bag containers and 47 tons of explosives have been prepared, more than 8.8 million cubic meters of snow have been removed from settlements.

1,707 reception centers for the evacuated population were prepared, evacuation routes were updated, a group of forces and means of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was formed with a total number of 9 thousand people and 1,730 pieces of technical equipment. Training and public awareness is provided.

As Minister of Internal Affairs Yerlan Turgumbayev reported, today, together with central and local executive bodies, a package of measures is being taken to reduce the risk of emergencies during the spring flood.

According to preliminary forecast data of the RSE Kazhydromet, in general, the volume of snow reserves in the country and moisture reserves in river basins are significantly higher than normal. The process of snow accumulation continues. The most likely complication is the situation in the city of Nur-Sultan, East Kazakhstan and North Kazakhstan regions.

“Now 609 settlements, 675 sections of roads and 259 railways located in the real risk zone have been identified throughout the country,” the minister informed.

In order to prevent flooding by local executive bodies, more than 8.8 million cubic meters of snow were removed from settlements. In emergency reserves 34 billion tenge are provided.

In case of possible flooding, 1,700 reception centers for the evacuated population were prepared, routes were updated, vehicles were allocated. For life support akimats prepared the necessary tools (tents, beds), food supplies and drinking water.

In turn, the Minister of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources Magzum Mirzagaliyev noted that the process of snow accumulation will continue throughout March.

Starting in March, Kazhydromet will weekly submit basic hydrological forecasts with updates every three days, and notify with storm warnings about the risks of flood threats 2-3 days prior at a rate of at least 6 hours in the event of sudden changes in weather conditions.

In order to prepare hydrotechnical structures of republican ownership for the passage of flood waters, a Flood Control Commission was created.

The First Vice Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Kairbek Uskenbayev reported on the preparation of road infrastructure. Today, work is underway on preparing roads and railways for the flood period. In particular, a daily inspection of flood hazardous areas and road structures is carried out.

To date, the length of the republican network is 24.9 thousand km, where there are 1,277 bridges and 14,994 culverts. Organized round-the-clock duty and daily patrols of roads and road structures. Work has begun on clearing the holes of culverts and beds of the bridge zones from snow. Work is underway to form 42 anti-erosion trains with rubble, rail packages, substandard reinforced concrete sleepers.

Currently, 2,800 m³ of rubble stone and 8,000 pcs of substandard reinforced concrete sleepers have been prepared by track distances.

Having listened to the speakers, Askar Mamin ordered to mobilize all necessary means and equipment for the removal of snow, including from rural settlements. To ensure the clearing of river beds, drains, storm sewers, the construction of temporary earthen ramparts and dams. The relevant services of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Ecology will also establish clear monitoring and control.

It was also instructed to organize round-the-clock monitoring of the prevention of overflows on highways of republican significance and on railway lines, to ensure the passage of flood waters through culverts.

The prime minister instructed the Ministry of Internal Affairs, together with interested state bodies and regional akimats, to create the appropriate headquarters, to ensure the full readiness of forces and means, including public warning systems, for possible emergency situations.

During the consideration of the second issue, the prime minister was informed that the key areas for improving the business climate in the country are providing state support measures, improving legislation and simplifying the regulatory environment. The strategic objective is to increase the share of small and medium-sized businesses in the economy up to 50% by 2050.

As noted by the Minister of National Economy Ruslan Dalenov, entrepreneurship support is carried out within the framework of the state programs Business Road Map, the Economy of Simple Things and Enbek. In 2019, these programs provided financial support to 22 thousand projects. The business received preferential financing and infrastructure. Along with financial support, 106 thousand entrepreneurs were trained in the basics and functional areas of business. Service support received 41 thousand entrepreneurs. These are services related to accounting and tax accounting, legal services, marketing issues and more.

In 2019, the share of SMEs in GDP amounted to 29.5%. Over the previous 5 years, 7 packages of legislative initiatives have been adopted aimed at reducing administrative barriers and various business transaction costs.

The result of the adopted reforms is Kazakhstan's entry into the TOP-25 of the best countries among 190 countries of the world in the World Bank's Doing Business ranking on ease of doing business.

To date, the 8th package of legislative measures to improve the business climate has been developed and submitted to Parliament. The document provides for simplification of the procedure for registering contracts (canceling the stamp), speeding up the procedure for registering a VAT payer (online, within 1 day), the possibility of opening bank accounts online within 1 day, eliminating the need for notification of certain procedures (GASK, traffic police), increasing security of transactions through public access to information (on arrest, encumbrance, property rights to real estate for legal entities), combining a number of permits in one package, etc.

The Deputy Chair of Atameken NCE Eldar Zhumagaziev, in turn, said that the chamber since its inception has identified 624 systemic problems for entrepreneurs.

Of these, 501 were resolved. The 8th reform package to improve the business climate was formed on the basis of studies of systemic business problems. Atameken prepared over 50 amendments aimed at improving the business climate of the country. They are associated with land relations, competition, the economy, banking services.

Askar Mamin noted that the Government was tasked with strengthening the role of SMEs and creating the most favorable conditions for business development.

Now it is necessary to build coordinated work for the high-quality and effective solution of the tasks set by the Head of State.

“In this regard, it is necessary to accelerate the adoption of the 8th package of measures to improve the business climate and to carry out appropriate work in the Parliament by June 1, 2020,” Mamin said.

On the sidelines, Minister of Healthcare Yelzhan Birtanov commented on the quarantine issue for coronavirus. According to him, people who are quarantined are not considered sick.

“Many countries recommend such measures as isolation in special institutions as well as at home. Since it’s impossible to accommodate everyone. There is no need to panic: everything that is needed is being done. We have the opportunity to treat this disease, but nevertheless the disease is very contact. The Director General of the World Health Organization said yesterday that global threats of proliferation are very high, countries need to prepare for a pandemic,” the minister of healthcare said.

According to Yelzhan Birtanov, the Ministry of Healthcare is doing everything possible to protect its citizens, who are in danger.

“The chief sanitary doctor has special rights to ensure safety. I ask you to understand and in this case provide maximum assistance to citizens,” the minister said.

Head of the Investigation Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Sanjar Adilov commented on the issue of financial pyramids. Currently, 22 criminal cases are being investigated in the three financial pyramids.

“We are really investigating criminal cases. Material damage amounted to over 5 billion tenge. And now I want to say that in the past years we investigated more than 30 facts of the creation of the pyramids, the perpetrators were brought to criminal responsibility. To return the money, now the investigating authorities, in addition to the quick and complete exposure of the guilty persons, are taking measures to establish property, including stolen money,” Adilov explained.

According to him, currently three founders are wanted. The total number of wanted persons is 9 people, 13 people are under arrest.

“One of the main tasks is the restoration of violated rights, the return of funds. Now we are working with the financial monitoring committee, with the prosecution authorities, bank accounts are being fully verified, and additionally the property that we discover will be resolved by the court on the issue of return,” Adilov said.

At the briefing following the session, the topic of preparing for the flood period was discussed in more detail. Journalists were able to get answers to their questions from the First Vice Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Kairbek Uskenbaev, Vice Minister of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources Sergey Gromov, Vice Minister of Internal Affairs Yuri Ilyin and Director of the Department of Hydrology at Kazhydromet RSE Didar Zhanibekuly.

To the question of the correspondent of the republican television channel about the readiness of forces and means for the upcoming floods, as well as about the most dangerous regions in the given period, the Vice Minister of Internal Affairs Yuri Ilyin said that already from 6 a.m. complex command post exercises Koktem-2020, during which the readiness of forces and means of local executive bodies, as well as units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of emergency response in the spring-flood periods will be checked.

Based on the forecast of snow accumulation on Feb. 1, 2020, the Ministry of Internal Affairs identified areas where there is a high risk of emergencies. These are more than 600 settlements.

From March 1, 2020, Kazhydromet JSC will provide a more detailed forecast. After that, the Ministry of the Interior plans to work out possible scenarios in areas where a large amount of snow is falling.

According to Ilyin, the storm warnings received on Feb. 26-27, including in Nur-Sultan, to increase wind speed and rainfall, will begin to provoke early snowmelt.

“We expect that the spring period will come much earlier than many years of observation. I think mid-March will be the main peak load. Compared to last year, the spring period will come two to three weeks earlier,” said Ilyin.

According to the vice minister, the highest risks are in the Karaganda region in the floodplain of the Nura River, where large snow reserves have formed and deep freezing of the soil is observed, which can provoke a high flow of water and the formation of high floods.

In terms of snow reserves, there are also risks in filling the Vyacheslav reservoir.

“Accordingly, employees will work to intercept the Astana counter-regulator, which helps protect the city of Nur-Sultan from high flood waters and further passage of water along the Ishim River,” the vice minister said.

There are also risks along the rivers of the Akmola region Zhabay and Kulaton. The settlements of Atbasar and Kulaton are at risk of flooding by these rivers.

In the future, the largest peak load will fall on the territory of the North Kazakhstan region, where almost all the rivers that form on the territory of the Akmola region go into the floodplain of the Sergeyevsky reservoir, which is not regulated.

Yuri Ilyin also spoke about the possible risks of flooding in Nur-Sultan.

“We all, residents of Nur-Sultan, know that a large amount of precipitation fell this year. According to Kazhydromet, the excess of the norm is more than two times. Work is underway to remove snow from streets and yards. Every resident would probably like it to be carried out more actively, because spring is just around the corner,” Yuri Ilyin emphasized.

The vice minister spoke about the implementation of the Roadmap to reduce the risk of emergencies. As part of the Roadmap, nearly 600 events are planned for all regions. The total financing of the Roadmap is about 130 billion tenge: 78 billion tenge from the republican budget and about 50 billion tenge from the local budget.

The roadmap for the prevention and elimination of flood threats has allowed over the past 3 years to remove the threat of flooding in 437 and minimize risks in 287 settlements.

As part of the Roadmap for material and technical equipment, about 900 units of equipment were purchased, including motor pumps, watercraft, all-terrain vehicles.

Ilyin noted that the effect of the implementation of the Road Map is clear.

“In past years, we had 1,000 settlements that were flooded. Now we have minimized the risks. Less than 350 settlements now have flooding risks,” said the vice minister.

Responding to journalists' questions, Vice Minister of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources Sergey Gromov clarified questions on inspecting all hydraulic structures in the country ahead of the flood period.

In order to prepare for the upcoming flood season, the basin inspections of the Committee on Water Resources, together with representatives of emergency departments of local executive bodies and the RSE Kazvodkhoz, conducted visual inspections of hydraulic structures. Inspections issued instructions and recommendations on the necessary measures.

According to him, monitoring of reservoirs is carried out around the clock.

In addition, in order to prepare for the upcoming flood season, a Hazard Map has been compiled showing places most at risk of an emergency. Given the significant amount of snowfall and in the case of a sharp increase in air temperature, it is necessary to carry out significant discharges of water from reservoirs. In this regard, akimats need to take effective measures to prevent an emergency.

“Taking into account the snow that has fallen, it is necessary to carry out work on cleaning the riverbed. We keep everything under control and the threat of flushing the dams, this is not there yet,” the vice minister said.

The ministry is now under special control over the issue of ownerless hydraulic structures. Meanwhile, according to the deputy minister, these ownerless reservoirs do not pose a threat today.

First Vice Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Kairbek Uskenbayev, answering a moderator's question, said that work to eliminate the consequences of the flood period last year was carried out in full. This year, measures are being taken to prevent the recurrence of flooding. Organized round-the-clock duty and daily patrols of roads and road structures. Work 883 units of road maintenance equipment.

Director of the Hydrology Department of the RSE Kazhydromet Didar Zhanibekuly told about the amount of precipitation this year. According to him, it was abnormal this year.

“Such precipitation last time in the city of Nur-Sultan fell in 2006. In the coming days in several regions of the country, an increase in temperature and precipitation in the form of rain is expected. Namely – in Akmola, Kostanay, Aktobe, North Kazakhstan, East Kazakhstan, Karaganda and Kyzylorda regions,” said Zhanibekuly.

As for the forecast for March, according to the director of the Department of Hydrology, the temperature is expected to be one degree above the norm. In most of Kazakhstan, rainfall will also be above normal. In addition, in March, frosts and air temperatures below zero degrees are expected in the central and northern regions of the country.


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