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Latvian official suprised at high prices in Astana 24 октября 2014, 13:21

A Latvian official has been surprised at the high prices in Astana.
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Photo courtesy of finance.bigmir.net. Photo courtesy of finance.bigmir.net.

A Latvian official has been surprised at the high prices in Astana, Kazakhstan, Tengrinews reports.

“We have visited your stores today and found that prices in Astana are 30% higher than in Riga. There is a lot of brand clothes and fine goods in Riga. Coming to us and see that shopping there is very convenient,” Chairman of Riga Development Committee, member of the board of Riga Tourism Development Bureau Maxim Tolstoy said at Kazakhstan-Latvia business forum on September 24.

High prices is not the only problem in Kazakhstan's capital. There is also a shortage of rooms in Astana hotels, which is very unpleasant for the city’s guests, he said. “We do not have this problem with shortage of rooms in our hotels. In Astana, this problem occurs when the Economic Forum is held in May. There are no rooms in the hotels, which, consequently, results in escalation of hotel prices. This is certainly unpleasant for the city’s guests,” Maxim Tolstoy noted. Such problem, according to him, exists in Moscow as well.

Riga’s Mayor Nil Ushakov said that it was the first time he came to Kazakhstan. “It is really impressive how the city that became the country's capital only 16 years ago looks today. The buildings that we have seen in the city’s center - the Pyramid (The Palace of Peace and Accord), the Palace of Independence - would have adorned any European capital. In this regard, Astana can only be envied,” he said.

“We are looking for investors in Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan does so in our country. (…) We need tourism to get to know each other. We are trying to reinstate a direct flight, it existed before. We and our national airlines are ready. We need to establish direct contacts. I would like to tell you about Riga and to invite you to visit,” Maxim Tolstoy said.

Maxim Tolstoy also expressed hope that Astana residents would come to Riga during Christmas time. "If we do not have enough time to launch a regular flight, we will probably launch charter flight by year's end, so that tourists from Astana can visit Riga for Christmas," he said.

There are many areas for cooperation between Kazakhstan and Latvia, and their trade turnover potential has not yet been fulling unleashed. For example, in the first half of this year, the trade turnover amounted to $155.6 million. “The business forum of Kazakhstan and Latvia is a very good opportunity to develop contacts and economic cooperation between the two countries. The trade turnover is not huge at this point, but Kazakhstan is rich with minerals and chemicals. Astana has been the capital of Kazakhstan only for the last 16 years, but it is still a growing city with many prospects. Therefore, we would be happy to adopt the experience of Riga in many areas, for example, in introducing an e-ticket system in the public transport and setting up a surveillance system in the city,” Mayor of Astana Imangali Tasmaganbetov, then Mayor of Astana, was quoted as saying by baltic-course.com.

As for Latvia, it is interested in Astana's experience of bulk infrastructure construction. “Our delegation is ready to come. As for us, we are interested in Astana’s experience of large-scale infrastructure construction that is being held in the city,” Riga’s Mayor Nil Ushakov noted.

Besides, Kazakhstan citizens are very active in buying real estate in Latvia, the Mayor of Riga said. Kazakhstan ranks third after Russia and Ukraine by the number of real estate purchases. “It is very important for us to show Riga once again for Kazakh businesses, because we are interested in the investments that may come from Kazakh entrepreneurs. This includes investments in real state, where Kazakhstan’s citizens are ranked third after Russians and Ukrainians,” Nil Ushakov said.

According to Maxim Tolstoy, there is a program in Ruga that allows to receive a residence permit in exchange for purchasing a real estate and investing into the Latvian economy. “It is a popular program. Currently, Kazakhstan is third by the number of purchases. Russia and Ukraine hold the first and second places. The project is working,” he said.

“When buying a property, you may become an owner of the residence permit in Schengen zone,” Nil Ushakov said.

Reporting by Asemgul Kasenova, writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina


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