By Nigar Orujova
The Azerbaijani government is continuing efforts to stabilize the economic situation in the country, that saw two devaluations last year, through a number of measures. These measures imply supporting population and developing non-oil sector of economy.
President Ilham Aliyev held a meeting devoted to the solution of economic and social issues on January 18. Addressing the meeting, the head of state defined efforts that would be taken to find a way out of the situation with minimal losses.
Economic reforms should be deepened, the president stressed, noting the necessity of considering the good practices of developed countries.
“Our economic and financial system should be more transparent. The banking sector should develop. The business environment should improve. It is necessary to create better conditions for business. All the bureaucratic obstacles should be eliminated. Then we will be able in the short term to speed up the upward trend,” he stressed.
President Aliyev said that through additional orders the national economy will get a new breath, economic activity will increase and, of course, social protection of people will improve.
Azerbaijan needs to increase economic activity, the president said, which includes the construction sector.
“The businessmen should have every opportunity to implement large construction projects in Baku and other cities. Sometimes business people are facing with various difficulties – bureaucracy and corruption, as well as unreasonable demands,” the president said, urging to stop that. "Construction sector should develop absolutely freely.”
At the same time, major construction projects can be implemented on a mortgage basis, he added.
The social protection of population remains one of the primary aims of each state.
The head of state stressed that issues of social protection must be primarily the focus of constant attention and increase of pensions and salaries by 10 percent is another important step in this direction.
Speaking about the fight with artificial price hike, the president stressed that serious struggle must be conducted. “Those trying to use this situation for their own economic or political interests will be punished.”
The head of state stressed that the government will maintain the successes achieved in the country in recent years."We will provide the rapid development of our country. We cannot allow anyone to exploit this situation for their own benefit.”
The need in deepening structural reforms was also highlighted at the meeting.
“The state bodies should have a structure enabling them to carry out rapid and flexible policy, bringing tremendous effect. Therefore, overlapping or not much needed public entities are merged or abolished.
Appropriate instructions were given to regulate the currency market that should develop based on the international experience.
“It is necessary to prepare a broad program of privatization,” the head of state went on to add. “We need to attract both foreign and local investors to this issue.”
The president said that a broad program of privatization should be implemented to improve the business environment and accelerate economic recovery. This program should be completely transparent, and develop with participation of international experts.
Speaking about the devaluation of the manat, the head of state said that in the current situation, confidence to the national currency has decreased to a certain extent. “We need to restore this trust.”
Necessary measures are implemented to regulate the banking sector, President Aliyev said.
“The position of the Azerbaijani economy is very strong and positive. This is evidenced by all the economic indicators,” the head of state stressed. “Considering all these factors, the economic stability and the low level of our external debt, I believe that we can attract to Azerbaijan currency reserves to the extent required from the foreign financial markets.”
Issuing the state loans may also be considered. “This is also a phenomenon that often happens in international practice. This feature is used even in countries producing and exporting oil in a much larger scale than we are...Actually, it will allow us to give even greater impetus to the economy.”
The head of state also stressed that development of the non-oil sector should become an even greater priority.
“Development of the regions, establishment of regional infrastructure, social infrastructure, construction of roads, gas lines, power plants, schools, hospitals, rural roads, creation of businesses, jobs – all these reflect recent realities of Azerbaijan,” he said.
The country should provide fully its food security.
“Today Azerbaijan largely meets its demand in building materials and food products. However, a part of these locally produced goods has an external component. In the coming years we have to try and eliminate the external components, make raw materials to all food products manufactured in Azerbaijan to be of exactly Azerbaijani origin,” he said.
The development of non-oil sector goes swiftly and it will enable Azerbaijan not to depend on imports, the president assured.