Speaking at a conference dedicated to the implementation of the “State Program on socio-economic development of districts of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2014-2018” on January 26 in Baku, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev promised the country economic reforms and prosperity.
“Our country was able to achieve social-political stability. The essense of our work is that we create a more strong country so that our people’s well-being is guaranteed and they live in safety,” Aliyev said, according to APA News Agency.
“Despite the crisis in the world, Azerbaijan will successfully prosper”
In his speech the president said that the social-political stability in the country is a natural environment for the country.
“Our people have gathered around one idea, and this provided the country’s success. Even though clashes erupted in a number of neighboring countries, in such cases Azerbaijan’s example is important for the world and is being studied. Azerbaijan is rapidly developing along the democratic road. This is our conscious choice. Economic development cannot be ensured without the democratic processes. Therefore, in parallel with economic, democratic reforms are being carried out. The parliament elections have proved this, we had very transparent elections, and Azerbaijani people’s wishes were fulfilled. The election results showed an overwhelming support of our policies from the people. And for this I am thankful to the people. I would like to ensure our people that, despite the crisis in the world, Azerbaijan will successfully prosper.”
The president said that the main indicator of the economy growth is the growth in the non-oil sector by 8.4%, including growth in the agricultural sector by 6.4%. “We must work to continue developing our economy despite the crisis and creating new jobs and businesses in 2016,” he said.
“Salaries, pensions were increased; this is a result of our social policies”
The president also added that he had worked until the very end to maintain a stable exchange rate of the national currency manat.
“The drop of the oil prices for four times last year and the drop of the exchange rates of local currencies in neighboring countries by 100% didn’t let our currency manat maintain its stable rate. But we have to keep in mind that we live in a market economy. Social policies and economic reforms will allow us to emerge from this situation successfully. 2016 will be the year of core reforms. Additional decrees and laws will be signed in order to make our economy stronger.”
According to him, in the past 12 years the country built 25 electric stations.
‘’In 2004 we can practically say that there was no gas in the houses our villages. Up until 2007 we were buying gas from abroad. Today Azerbaijan is able to provide for its gas supply needs up to 90%, and we were able to build gas pipelines in areas that didn’t have gas even during the soviet times. Azerbaijan is able to provide gas supply for its villages for up to 80% of the current need. In the past few years we have built 12,000 kilometers of roads. New highways, that connect us with other countries, were built. At the same time, roads are being built in the villages, and additional funds will be allocated for that this year. On the other hand, clean water should be provided to the population 24/7, and work is being done in this direction.”
The president mentioned that Azerbaijan has up to 5,000 schools; and 3,000 of them were built in the past 12 years.
“In the past 12 years the salaries grew by five times and the pensions grew by seven times. 89 IDP villages were built, 225,000 people were provided new apartments. On the other hand, in this period we have provided soft loans to business owners at the total amount of 1.7 billion manat. In the past 12 years Azerbaijan has received 200 billion manat in foreign investment. If we didn’t have the stability, would we receive this much foreign investment?”
Ilham Aliyev stressed that if it hadn’t been for the economic independence, Azerbaijan would become dependent (on other countries).
“It was difficult last year. But we should be facing difficulties as well, it’s not harder than 1990s. The world economy is experiencing a recession for reasons beyond our control, and we are a part of the world economy. This impacts us, but we will grow with confidence. We’ve gone a long, glorious road in the past 12 years. We built Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan gas pipeline, turned into a space power. ”
Adding that Azerbaijan is a country that prides its tolerance, the president mentioned that under the umbrella of the UN Baku will this year host a Global Forum of Civilization Alliance. “And our economy will continue growing rapidly.”
Privatization Must Start
“Azerbaijan must start a large-scale privatization. Because there are enterprises that haven’t worked for 20 years, but weren’t offered for privatization yet,” said Ilham Aliyev.
The president said that a specific business plan should be introduced for each enterprise that will be offered for privatization.
“The business plan, the responsibility, the obligation should be considered. Otherwise it will turn out that someone will buy the enterprise, and it will not work again. We need leading foreign consulting companies, because the privatization must be transparent, and the state’s interests must be secured.”
“The banking sector should provide loans to the economy sector”
“Banks that don’t meet the requirements and operate with multiple defects can’t continue operating in Azerbaijan. We have to make our banking sector healthier. This process, unfortunately, is taking very long; we need to speed up this process,” stressed Ilham Aliyev.
The president said that the banking sector should provide the economic sector with more loans.
“I have ordered that an industrial zone be created in every region, but this process is taking long. Today at this conference this issue must be discussed in detail. When we look at the investments into the country’s regions, they primarily come from the Azerbaijani state and the business owners. Local heads of the executive offices should be more active. How many jobs are being created, how many enterprises are being opened, how much investment was brought in? The performance of the heads of the executive offices will be evaluated based on these indicators. ”
“All social programs will be implemented this year”
the president said that market economy is successfully developing in Azerbaijan, but during the reforms the social issues shouldn’t be forgotten either.
“We are working for the Azerbaijani people, and the economic development should serve this purpose as well. Strong social policies are being introduced in Azerbaijan, and this will continue”.
The president said that all the infrastructure projects that were planned in the regions this year must be continued. “We should especially pay attention to the construction of the new roads”.
“If high-level officials can’t implement their responsibilities, they will be punished. There isn’t a single untouchable person in Azerbaijan”
Ilham Aliyev also spoke about providing the population with drinking water.
“If we haven’t done this important work, we would be more dependent on imports. In 2016 we can continue implementing our business and infrastructure projects and bring even greater dynamism to the country. We can produce up to 90% of our country’s cement demand, and the remaining 10% is connected to processing and packaging. We need to ensure that we are able to cover these 10% and produce cement all on our own.”
Azerbaijan’s president said that corruption is a scourge for all countries.
“We are introducing procedures to prevent and punish for corruption, and will continue doing so. Our EASY service centers have so far helped over seven million people, and there is no way to pay bribes in this process. And if high-level officials can’t implement their responsibilities, they will be punished. There isn’t a single untouchable person in Azerbaijan.”
The president said that local executive offices this year need to primarily focus on job creation.
“Every official, including the president, is the servant of the people. State officials and their family members must behave modestly. State officials shouldn’t think that they have a special status. They must pay attention and take care of other people, solve their problems. This kind of work should be vital in the evaluation of the officials’ work.”
A suggestion to officials
Azerbaijan’s president said that there is a vehicle plant based in Nakhchivan.
“I suggest state officials that they buy their cars from that plant.”
Ilham Aliyev said that creating artificial obstacles for the business owners is unacceptable.
“Business owners should operate transparently. We should work and assume that we don’t have any oil and gas resources. We now live in the post-oil period. And this is why our future development and prosperity will be possible with the development of the nonoil sector.”
“Food Security Should Be a Priority in Azerbaijan”
The president mentioned that last year was the year of agriculture.
“But in reality every year should be accepted as the year of agriculture. First of all, the land records must be accurate. When you look at the documents, there is one number, but the farmer works on a completely different land. The records must be accurate. This year we must continue serious work in this sphere.”
The president also said that the country needs to bring more foreign investment. According to him, the overall investment climate is very positive in Azerbaijan.
“If this wasn’t the truth, we wouldn’t receive over 100 billion in foreign investment. We just need to work now and ensure that the new investment comes into the non-oil sector. And we also need to increase the amounts of exports from Azerbaijan.”