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Wednesday 24 February 2021

Kazakh Agencies Fail to Prevent Food Price Hikes


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NUR-SULTAN / ex ASTANA (Satrapia) — Kazakhstan’s government agencies are unable to prevent rising food prices, said Majlis MP Aikyn Konurov.

Aikyn Konurov
Last November, he was elected as the Chairman of the People’s Party of Kazakhstan.

Konurov told a Parliament meeting on Wednesday:

The stable functioning of the food market and the prevention of an unreasonable increase in food prices are somehow supervised by an unprecedented number of departments: the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Agency for Protection of Competition, and local authorities. But there is no coordinated outcome of their joint activities. Kazakhstan is one of the few countries in the region that does not have a formal policy document in the field of food security. Key indicators have not been set, including the admissible share of food expenditures in household expenditures.

At the same time, he noted that Kazakhstanis spend more than half of their income for food:

According to the latest data for 2020, the share of food expenditure in the budgets of Kazakh families reached 54.3%. This is a historical record with a minus sign for our country and one of the worst ranks in the world. This fact can be considered as an alarm signal for food security. But at the same time, nobody bears responsibility and does not offer any systemic remedy.

As Konurov noted, the prices of some products have increased by 20-30% in annual terms:

In January of this year, food prices increased by 11.4% compared to January of last year. At the same time, for unit items that are important to most consumers, the increase was much higher. For cereals 27.6%, for flour 19.5%, for pasta 13.7%, for lamb 15.9%, for eggs 26.2%, for sunflower oil 38.6%, for potatoes 22.3%, for sugar 36%.

According to the deputy, “the unbridled rise in prices is becoming no less important a factor in the deterioration of the welfare of the Kazakh people than the loss of income due to the pandemic.”

In this regard, Konurov proposed to develop a food security strategy with priority to food accessibility; to identify a specific responsible government agency or create a food security commission; and to make an objective assessment of the activities of the stabilization funds as a mechanism for stabilizing the food market.

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