On March 31, The President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev addressed the nation on television to talk about fresh measures intended to soften the blow of the coronavirus epidemic on private enterprise and pledged more support for healthcare workers and vulnerable people.

The government has recently adopted measures to provide doctors working on the front line against infectious diseases additional support and committed to setting their salaries at rates of up to 850,000 tenge ( equivalent to $1,900), he said, according to Eurasianet.

Lower rates are reportedly envisioned for auxiliary medical workers, such as ambulance crew members and staff running isolation wards.

Tokayev said more help will also be going to those most in need.  Recipients of pensions and welfare would see those payments go up by 10 percent, he said.

Another tranche of the measures is aimed at supporting businesses, particularly those working in the agricultural sector, and sustaining employment.

Tokayev said it was “of the utmost importance to carry out spring sowing in a timely manner.”  For that purpose, 170 billion tenge (equivalent to more than $380 million) worth of loans will be allocated for farmers.  Credit will be repayable at rates of 5-6 percent per annum, as opposed to the 13-15 percent rates usually available on the open market.  Growers will additionally be provided 15 percent discounts on diesel fuel.

And so as to guarantee that the work is not in vain, the government has pledged to buy the output of agricultural producers six months in advance, Tokayev said.

Another ongoing effort is to persuade the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), of which Kazakhstan is a member, to drop import duties within the bloc on important food items.

As for employment, the government plans to implement projects in the regions surrounding cities now in lockdown as part of anti-coronavirus measures.

Many people have lost work as they live outside the cities and are unable to get past the roadblocks put in place to control movement. Police report regularly on people trying through various means to circumvent the checkpoints.

The deal has been sweetened for small and medium-sized businesses, which already stood to benefit from tax breaks, deferral on loan payments and low-interest state credit. The most badly impacted sectors of the economy – and these include catering, transportation services, consulting services, the IT sector and tourism – will have employee pension and social payment obligations covered by the government until October 1, Tokayev said.