“It is true that the oil sector remains fundamental to our economy. However, other sectors, the development of the non-oil economy are a priority. I believe that it is necessary to increase the production of exportable products, to continue the certification process in business entities so that our products are competitive both in the domestic and foreign markets. Of course, domestic consumption should be stimulated by domestic production. It is worth noting that it is becoming increasingly difficult to access foreign markets with every passing year, as many countries are pursuing import substitution policies. Therefore, we must both look for new markets and increase the competitiveness of our products,” said the head of state.
At the same time, it is necessary to try to maximize domestic demand through domestic production, he said.
“As for the self-sufficiency index, there should be more accurate statistics in this area because different government agencies submit different numbers to me. Therefore, I am instructing you to do that. Analyze the figures of all government agencies and report to me on the real state of affairs – what is our self-sufficiency index in basic consumer goods so that we could forecast our policy more accurately, including the allocation of funds and loans from the Entrepreneurship Development Fund to the areas that are still dependent on imports. In addition, when analyzing our exports and self-sufficiency opportunities, it is necessary to take into account the percentage of the external component in the goods produced in Azerbaijan because sometimes the share of imported raw materials is high. The Ministry of Economy is working hard on these areas, so carry on. I believe that if we can correctly build all this work – and I have no doubt that we will – then we will pass this difficult test with dignity,” said President Ilham Aliyev.
"Outlined reforms related to our overall economic development should be deepened", President Ilham Aliyev said.
“I am sure that the rules that have come into force today will reinforce the positive dynamics. At the same time, a very broad economic package has already been reported on and its implementation, as well as the implementation of the social package, is scheduled for the coming days. A call to entrepreneurs not to lay off workers is not only a call, but also support for entrepreneurs. We understand that it is difficult for them and that they are suffering losses. Who should support them? The state should! The state, as always, is doing that. Therefore, the fight against the disease, economic activity, the solution of social issues, the understanding of every person’s problems, our desire to help and our intentions reflect our policies and, at the same time, will be the best service to the citizens of Azerbaijan in my opinion. Therefore, I believe that the issues you have reported on should already be fully completed and it is necessary to proceed to the actual payments without wasting any time. Of course, lists have been compiled as well,” said President Ilham Aliyev.
The head of state noted that at the same time, the outlined reforms related to our overall economic development should be deepened too.
“The pandemic should not stop us. We should not waste time. Our main goal – I set this goal before the Ministry of Economy – is to narrow the scale of the shadow economy. I believe that very serious steps have been taken in this direction. Last year, tax and customs authorities transferred one billion manats to the treasury in excess of the forecast. Due to what? By reducing the shadow economy,” said President Ilham Aliyev.
“We started this year very well. Revenues in two months exceeded 250 million manats. Due to what? Due to the fight against the shadow economy. This process will be continued. I want to appeal to representatives of the private sector again. I have already spoken about this several times. We are carrying out fundamental reforms. This means an end to the shadow economy. However, we are doing everything in a consistent manner. There are hundreds, perhaps even thousands of businesses. We gave them time. At the same time, the Ministry of Economy both gave them some time and carried out awareness work. What I am talking about today is no surprise to them. This is our policy and strategic course. Therefore, I believe that the time has come for the business entities still carrying out activities in the shade to put an end to this. We were patient and gave them enough time. I believe that the timeframe was quite broad,” said the head of state.
President Ilham Aliyev: Additional measures will be taken in area of improving banking sector and financing real economy
“In general, since the beginning of the year, steps have been taken to improve the banking sector. Several meetings have been held on this issue. I believe that it is necessary to deepen reforms even in areas not related to the pandemic, and we will do that. Additional measures will be taken in the area of improving the banking sector and financing the real economy. I also consider the suggestion on loan guarantees to be very timely. We will definitely take this into account,” said President Ilham Aliyev.
As for the social sphere, the Azerbaijani state showed its intentions and steps last year, said the head of state.
“An unprecedented social package was implemented last year, benefiting 4.2 million people. The minimum wage was doubled, the minimum pension was increased by 70 per cent, benefits by 50 per cent, while some benefits were even doubled. This had a very positive effect on people's lives. In addition, the issue of overdue loans was resolved in Azerbaijan at the highest level. This year we are demonstrating social responsibility again. We are taking tangible steps to prevent a decline in people’s well-being, and I believe that we are first in this area too,” said President Ilham Aliyev.
The head of state noted that countries have self-isolated because of the coronavirus today, and this is natural.
“We are seeing that even countries and organizations very close to each other are already solving their problems themselves. Different countries have different approaches to this issue. I believe that our approach is the broadest and most correct. First of all, as a result of the preventive measures, steps were taken to prevent the spread of the disease. However, I believe that people should be more responsible. Nevertheless, when drawing comparisons on a global scale, we see that the situation in Azerbaijan is much better. Cases of infection in proportion to the population are at a very low level, and so are deaths. However, this does not give us any reason to be satisfied with the results achieved. All necessary work in this field has been and will continue to be done in Azerbaijan,” said President Ilham Aliyev.
President Ilham Aliyev: Large-scale economic and social package will protect those in sensitive category from this crisis
“I believe that this large-scale economic and social package will have a positive impact on the growing dynamics in the economic sphere and at the same time protect those in the sensitive category from this crisis. Our first and foremost goal is the safety, health and well-being of our citizens. Of course, during a pandemic, Azerbaijan, like other responsible countries, first of all, thinks about the health of its citizens. All other issues are secondary, including issues related to economic development, although we must definitely pay the necessary attention to these issues. Both the health and well-being of people as a whole are one of the main social issues in Azerbaijan,” said the head of state.
He noted that today, all issues related to human health are being addressed in Azerbaijan and “the main goal, I want to say this again, is to control the scale of the pandemic.”
“This is what we must achieve in the first place. I want to say again: the main factor here is the responsibility of citizens. At the same time, the proposals you have submitted are large-scale and take into account the interests of people working in areas affected by the pandemic now. A significant part of their wages will be temporarily paid by the state. At the same time, I want to repeat that entrepreneurs should not lay off workers, of course. I also consider it necessary to take additional measures in the field of social security, including the issues related to the social sphere you have mentioned. The Azerbaijani state must once again demonstrate and is demonstrating its social policy here. Our policy is centered on the people of Azerbaijan, and we have repeatedly proved this,” said President Ilham Aliyev.
President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijani entrepreneurs fulfilling their civic duty with dignity
“Our economic momentum this year has been very positive. In January-February, the gross domestic product increased by 2.8 per cent, in the non-oil sector by 6.7 and in the non-oil industry by 21.7 per cent. Inflation was only at 2.8 per cent, while household incomes increased by 9 per cent. In other words, revenues exceeded inflation. At the same time, tax and customs authorities transferred large amounts of money into the state budget in two months. Tax authorities contributed 170 million into the budget and customs authorities a further 80 million manats. Of course, we hope that this dynamics will be continued throughout the year and thus additional revenues will come into our budget, making it possible to implement additional social programs,” said the head of state.
He noted that it is a little too early to talk about the results of March.
“The State Statistical Committee usually submits data about a week after the end of the first quarter. Therefore, we will certainly analyze these figures but it is not too difficult to guess that the pandemic is posing and will pose great obstacles to our economic development, of course. In order to minimize the economic and social repercussions of the pandemic, 1 billion manats were allocated to the Cabinet of Ministers on my decision. On my decision, four working groups have been set up and their main focus has been on analyzing the issues of employment, submitting proposals, ensuring economic stability and economic development, maintaining macroeconomic stability and, having analyzed our financial situation, taking the necessary additional measures in this area by the end of the year. Of course, we are primarily paying attention to businesses operating in the areas worst affected by coronavirus,” said President Ilham Aliyev.
“First of all, we must take into account the financial situation of the people working there because the note submitted to me by the Ministry of Economy indicates which areas have suffered the most from this situation, and more than 300,000 people work in these areas. Of course, we are worried about their financial situation. We must support them, especially if we consider that I urged all Azerbaijani businessmen not to lay off workers. This request or requirement remains valid. I should also note that in these circumstances, Azerbaijani entrepreneurs are fulfilling their civic duty with dignity. To date, the Fund to Support the Fight Against Coronavirus, which was set up on my decree, has already accumulated over 100 million manats, and only 20 million of this amount was transferred from the President’s Contingency Fund. This suggests that a significant part of the funds represent donations from entrepreneurs who have shown solidarity in this matter,” said the head of state.
President Ilham Aliyev expressed confidence that his call not to lay off workers will and should be taken into account, of course.
“At the same time, it is clear that many areas and more than 40,000 businesses are practically inactive or work to a limited capacity. The state should help them. Therefore, instruction has been given to take into account both the social security of those working in these entities and the activities of individual entrepreneurs. There are about 300,000 of them. The Ministry of Economy has received these instructions,” said President Ilham Aliyev.