By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
A forum entitled “Taxes, Transparency and Development” was held in Baku on February 18.
Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev, who attended the forum, in his speech noted that since 2016, 345 projects worth a total of 3 billion manats have received investment promotion documents in Azerbaijan.
He said that these projects will create over 22,000 new jobs.
The mechanism of investment promotion contributed to a serious increase in private investments in the non-oil sector of the country, the minister noted.
“As a result of the targeted measures, the share of the private sector in Azerbaijan’s GDP reached 84 percent and the employment share reached 76 percent in 2018,” Mustafayev said.
New solutions for the development of the private sector, implemented since 2015, from the point of view of sustainable development of the economy are of a strategic nature and characterize a new era of entrepreneurship development, the minister noted.
“In line with the instructions by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, inspections in the field of entrepreneurship were suspended until 2021, the number of licensed types of business activities was reduced, procedures were simplified and duties were substantially reduced,” the minister added.
He also said that in addition, reforms in tax, customs and social systems were initiated, credit bureau and the register of movable property were created, the Entrepreneurship Development Fund was established, and the annual interest rate on the fund’s loans was reduced to 5 percent.
Afterwards, he added that the Competition Code may be adopted soon in Azerbaijan.
The minister noted that the issue of adopting the Code was also discussed with the Ministry of Taxes of the country. The Minister noted that the draft law is being prepared for the third reading.
The creation of the Competition Code is provided for in the “Strategic Roadmap on the production of consumer goods at the level of small and medium enterprises in Azerbaijan”. It is noted in the roadmap that international experience, including the United States, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary the Czech Republic and other countries, is used while preparig this code.
Addressing the forum, Tax Minister Mikail Jabbarov said that elimination of shadow economy in Azerbaijan will be one of the priorities that will be given special attention in 2019.
He said that last year, understatement of turnover totaling 930 million manats were revealed in major wholesale enterprises, 122 million manats in market chains and more than 230 million manats in private medical institutions of Azerbaijan.
“Our primary function is to identify all such facts and bring the enterprises to taxation,” the minister said.
The shadow economy contributes to the emergence of various negative factors, he noted.
“Despite that tangible results were achieved in the fight against this problem, we must continue measures in this direction,” he added. “For this reason, reduction of the shadow economy in 2018 was the priority direction for tax services. Entrepreneurs were given time so that they renew their accounting, extensive educational work was carried out. Control over some sectors was also increased, for example, in the sale of goods, in the medical services sector and in shopping center chains.”
In 2018, major changes occurred in the activity of the tax authorities, the minister said. The structure of the tax authorities was reformed, dramatic changes were made in the personnel section and negative points that occurred earlier were eliminated, he added.
“In order to eliminate the problems faced by taxpayers, an appeal system was created. We tried to create horizontal cooperation with the business, and the main approach is that the tax authorities improve relations with entrepreneurs from scratch. We stand for building clear and transparent relationships with entrepreneurs. We are sure that entrepreneurs also share this opinion,” the minister noted.
Furthermore, speaking at the forum, Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Population Sahil Babayev said that the first Center for Sustainable and Operational Social Security (DOST) will open in Azerbaijan in the coming days.
He said that the center will provide 124 services on a “single-window” principle in the areas of labor, employment, social protection and social security.
“Opening of the 31 DOST centers is envisaged in Azerbaijan in the future,” he noted.
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