The Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan has taken a vague stance on the issue of opening the terms of contracts and Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) for subsoil use that have been concluded since the 1990s.
Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov responded to a request from deputies, noting that according to the standards of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Government has published data on all 1,973 licenses issued in the field of solid minerals, and 454 contracts are subject to publication in the first quarter of this year. Additionally, the Prime Minister noted that due to confidentiality standards that have been established amongst transnational corporations, information regarding the PSAs will only be disclosed after relevant negotiations.
In response to the Prime Minister‘s response, Deputy Yerlan Smailov commented on social media that Kazakhstanis should understand the profitability of the contracts and agreements, and if not, then they should be subject to revision. This shows that the Government‘s vague stance has been met with criticism, as many believe that full transparency should be ensured at all stages of the contracts and agreements. The scrutiny surrounding the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan’s vague stance on the terms of contracts and Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) for subsoil use is only intensifying. In addition to the public criticism of Deputy Yerlan Smailov, many civil society groups have come forward to express their concerns. The organizations have pointed out that without full transparency, it is impossible to assess the true value of the contracts and agreements and the true benefits to the people of Kazakhstan. Without knowing the full details of the contracts and agreements, it is impossible to know if Kazakhstan is truly reaping the benefits of their natural resources. In response to the public outcry, the Government has taken steps to address the lack of transparency. For example, the Government has made information regarding 150 standard contracts for subsoil use in the field of hydrocarbon raw materials and uranium mining publicly available. Additionally, the Government has begun to discuss with the operators of large projects to establish a list of information to be disclosed. However, these steps are not enough to address the concerns of civil society groups.
The organisations have called on the Government to ensure full transparency of the contracts and agreements at all stages, and to make the terms of the PSAs available to the public after the relevant negotiations. Until these steps are taken, the scrutiny of the Government’s stance on the terms of contracts and PSAs for subsoil use is likely to continue.