Last week’s changes in the top of Azerbaijan’s Economic Ministry — Minister Shahin Mustafayev moved up to a deputy prime minister slot and Tax Minister Mikayil Jabbarov assumed the Economic Ministry portfolio while keeping responsibility for tax collection and policy — can be impetus for advancing and accelerating the economic reforms Azerbaijan needs, former US ambassador to Azerbaijan Robert Cekuta wrote in his article, Trend reports.
“While enjoying important oil and gas reserves that supply the bulk of its foreign exchange and government revenues, Azerbaijan has needed to diversify its economy for its long-term prosperity and development. Diversifying the economy away from its dependence on oil and natural gas production, seeing the creation of new industries and enterprises, and boosting the kinds and numbers of jobs have been stated objectives for a number of years,” reads the article.
Cekuta noted that the collapse of world oil prices in 2014/2015 especially drove this point home with the result that the government developed and embarked on a set of economic reforms in 2016.
“That reform program drew on other countries’ experiences, on outside expertise, and on input from businesses operating in Azerbaijan. It recognized the need to encourage entrepreneurship and for the government to make changes in the legal and regulatory environment to develop a business climate where creativity is supported and risk-takers can feel they will be rewarded,” he wrote.
The former ambassador noted that the decisions regarding economic reforms are Azerbaijan’s.
“Last week’s personnel changes are hopefully a sign that the country will pick up the pace of reforms, taking on steps such as improving the protection of intellectual property, strengthening transparency, improving the rule of law and fighting corruption. In this regard, Azerbaijan should accelerate its talks to the join the World Trade Organization (WTO); membership has been a sign for many developing countries that they are seriously applying the rules of a market-based economy, full partners in the global trading system, and open for business. Hopefully too the government will deepen dialogue with all the stakeholders in Azerbaijan’s economy in order to obtain feedback and further ideas as well as to build additional support for reforms,” reads the article.
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