UPDATE 1-Kazakh president announces $740 million stimulus plan

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ALMATY, March 13 (Reuters) - Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered his government on Friday to allocate 300 billion tenge ($740 million) towards measures to boost employment through infrastructure maintenance projects, his office said.

At a meeting on the coronavirus outbreak, Tokayev also instructed the cabinet to provide fiscal support to companies, enabling them to offer paid leave to employees forced to stay home with children as the oil-exporting Central Asian nation shuts down schools for three weeks.

Kazakhstan has reported no coronavirus cases on its soil but moved pre-emptively this week to suspend all public events and close entertainment venues.

Neighbouring China, an important market for Kazakh exports, has slashed gas purchases from the former Soviet republic by up to a quarter, and a plunge in global oil prices has sent Kazakhstan’s tenge currency to all-time lows. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Kevin Liffey)