National measures against COVID-19 led to economic growth
By Ayya Lmahamad
Azerbaijan’s Economy Minister Mikayil Jabbarov has said that measures taken in the country last year to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have led to economic growth this year, Trend reported on December 23.
The minister mentioned that during the pandemic last year, a program to support employment was developed, within which the state provided financial support to employers.
He added that around AZN 1 million ($588,200) was allocated to SMBs, and the volume of loans under state guarantees was increased.
“Our main task was to preserve jobs, ensure business sustainability and minimize the impact of the pandemic on certain sectors,” he said.
Jabbarov also emphasized that Azerbaijan’s GDP growth rate this year exceeded the ministry’s forecast.
“By the end of 2021, our forecast was at 3.4 percent, while international financial organizations were skeptical about this figure - their forecast was not higher than 1.7 percent. However, in the first 11 months, the growth rate of the Azerbaijani economy reached 5.3 percent,” he said.
He noted that international organizations have already updated and raised their forecast. The minister added that the growth rate in the non-oil sector is even higher - 6.4 percent.
Shahbazov stated that the main driver of GDP growth is the non-oil industry, tax incentives, investment promotion, commissioning of industrial parks in the country’s regions, a sustainable business environment and simplified licensing of activities, expansion of subsidies and the issuance of soft loans.
The minister also noted that since the beginning of the year, in the non-oil sector, there was an increase in production by more than 20 percent and in exports by 44 percent.
“We project non-oil exports to be $2.6 billion by the end of the year. For the entire period of our non-oil exports, these indicators haven’t exceeded $1.9 billion,” he said.
Noting that today a record value is reached, Jabbarov added that the strategic foreign exchange reserves in the country exceed $53 billion.
It should be noted that Azerbaijan allocated over AZN 1.9 billion ($1.1bn) from its state budget to fight the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Some AZN 1.3 billion ($764.7M) of these funds was used to reduce the pandemic’s negative impact on the country’s economy, macroeconomic stability, employment and entrepreneurship.
The measures to mitigate the pandemic in 2020 included financial support to protect jobs, the introduction of periodic tax breaks, provision of soft loans and others. To this end, business entities in Azerbaijan received financial support in the amount of over AZN 358 million ($210.5M), a package of tax incentives worth AZN 115 million ($67.6M), state-guaranteed loans of AZN 169 million ($99.4M) and AZN 33 million ($19.4M) in the form of interest subsidies on existing loans.
Additionally, the State Tax Service provided financial support worth AZN 246 million ($144.7M) to employees in the country’s regions affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Financial support to micro-entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 pandemic amounted to AZN 112.2 million ($65.9M).
At the same time, Azerbaijan has spent AZN 433 million ($254.7M) for vaccination against coronavirus so far.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz