By Ayya Lmahamad
Azerbaijan has expanded social programs, covering more than 4.8 million citizens since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, Azerbaijan’s Labor and Social Protection Minister Sahil Babayev said during an online meeting with the International Monetary Fund’s mission.
The minister briefed the meeting participants of the steps taken to strengthen the social protection system in the country.
In particular, he noted that in 2019, the social packages, which covered 4.2 million people, have more than doubled in a number of areas. He stressed that continuity and further increases in social benefits were ensured during the pandemic.
Babayev stressed that more than AZN 5.7 billion ($3.3bn) was spent on pensions, allowance, targeted social assistance in 2020, which is by 20 percent or AZN 1 billion ($588.2M) more than in the previous year.
Moreover, the minister spoke about the measures for protecting the jobs and salaries of public and private sector workers, controlling the "notice of employment contract" subsystem, and providing lump sum payments to unemployed and informal workers who lost their jobs because of a special quarantine regime.
He stated that the number of paid government jobs was increased to 90,000 last year, to expand employment opportunities. In addition, Babayev stated that more than 12,500 people were enrolled in the self-employment program.
Likewise, the minister informed about the measures to support the expansion of the social assistance program, disability insurance benefits, unemployment benefits, etc.
Noting Azerbaijan’s victory and liberation of its territories, Babayev underlined that large-scale construction works are already underway in those territories. He emphasized that modern social infrastructure will be built in the liberated territories, large-scale programs of social protection and active employment will be implemented.
IMF Mission Head in Azerbaijan Natalia Tamirisa, members of the mission, representatives of the IMF Middle East and Central Asia Department Jiri Jonas, Gustavo Ramirez, Issouf Samake, and others spoke during the meeting.
Azerbaijan joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on September 18, 1992. Since Azerbaijan's induction into the organization, the IMF has implemented several programs in Azerbaijan that foster economic growth.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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