Ilham Aliyev: Reforms will enable Azerbaijan's development to be even more successful in future
BAKU, Azerbaijan, Jan. 17
"Very positive results were achieved in the economic sphere last year. They testify to the fact that we are pursuing a sound policy. I believe that Azerbaijan successfully met all the goals in the economic sphere in 2019. It would be sufficient to look at the figures to see that 2019 was a successful year for our country in terms of economic development. The World Bank included Azerbaijan in the list of 20 most reforming countries. This is a great achievement, which testifies to the fact that the fundamental reforms our country has carried out are approved by leading international institutions. I can say that, in general, 2019 was a year of deep reforms – political, economic, social, as well as personnel and structural transformation," President Ilham Aliyev said.
The head of state noted that these reforms will enable Azerbaijan's development to be even more successful in the future. This includes economic growth, which will increase even more.
"I believe that the results achieved in the economic sphere last year are satisfactory. Thus, the gross domestic product grew by 2.2 percent. This is a good result, especially considering that this growth in the non-oil sector is 3.5 percent. Industrial production has increased by 1.5 percent, while in the non-oil sector industrial production grew by 14 percent. This is a manifestation of the work done in the field of industry in recent years. Industrial production in Azerbaijan has grown both at the expense of public funds and as a result of private sector activity. I am sure that this growth will continue to be sustainable," President Ilham Aliyev said.
The head of state underlined that agriculture grew by about 7 percent.
"This growth was particularly high in crop production – more than 10 percent. This is also the result of the work done. Inflation amounted to only 2.6 percent and cash incomes of the population grew by 7.4 percent. This is evidence of the fact that monetary incomes of the population were ahead of inflation. Thus, real incomes of the population have increased. I believe that this is one of the key issues for any country. Our non-oil exports have increased by 14 percent. This is also a very good result. This growth was due to the attention paid to the activities of the private sector in recent years, the provision of low-interest loans, ongoing reforms related to subsidies and other measures," President Ilham Aliyev said.
The head of state stressed that Azerbaijan's foreign exchange reserves have increased by $6.4 billion to reach a record high of $51 billion.
"I should note that Azerbaijan holds first place in the CIS space in terms of foreign exchange reserves per capita. The foreign trade surplus is $6 billion, which is an excellent result. I can say that there is a negative balance in the foreign trade of the vast majority of the countries around the world, but it is positive in our country. This, of course, will contribute to both maintaining the manat rate at a stable level and lead to macroeconomic stability in general. So the results and figures achieved in the economic sphere once again confirm that our policy is carefully thought-out and aimed at the result," President Ilham Aliyev said.
The head of state noted that as a result of the reforms carried out by tax and customs authorities, more than 1 billion manats entered the treasury in excess of the plan.
"This, in turn, allowed us the opportunity to initiate a very large social package for the population, and we did it. I believe that this is the largest social package in the history of modern Azerbaijan and the CIS so far. This is not our first initiative in this area. We remember that when repaying the deposits that were left over from the Soviet era and were in some way frozen, we also returned these deposits on the basis of the principle most acceptable to our citizens and with the most acceptable coefficient, thus becoming first in the CIS in this area as well. The social package implemented last year covered 4.2 million people and the material situation of our people improved. The minimum wage has been doubled, the minimum pension has been increased by 70 percent, some benefits by 50 percent, some have been doubled. In other words, we channeled the additional income received as a result of the reforms carried out last year primarily into the social sphere. I announced this at the beginning of last year and said that all the accumulated additional funds would be spent on the social sphere, which we did. As always, we keep our word. The positive developments taking place in the social sphere and the improving well-being of our citizens remain a priority for us," President Ilham Aliyev said.
"Of course, as a result of the successful economic policy, a lot of work was done in relation to social infrastructure. Sixty medical institutions and 84 schools have been built and renovated. Fifty schools are of modular type. They have been built in small and remote villages. This shows that the processes taking place throughout our country stem from the overall development potential."
The head of state underlined that infrastructure projects have been implemented.
"In the field of electricity, the “Shimal-2” power station has been commissioned. The capacity of this station is 400 megawatts. In parallel, as a result of the repair and restoration carried out at the Mingachevir Thermal Power Plant and other operating stations, we have restored about 400 megawatts of lost generating capacity. Thus, we received an additional 800 megawatts of generating capacity last year. Of course, this fully meets our needs. At the same time, we have great export opportunities. We currently have 1,000 megawatts of generating capacity in excess of our needs. If we take into account the measures taken to renew the electricity infrastructure, we can say that very serious work has been done in this direction. Gas supply in our country has reached 96 percent. A total of 345 sub-artesian wells drilled will improve water supply of hundreds of villages. I must also say that more than 400 sub-artesian wells will be drilled this year. The list already includes the names of villages in all our districts and we will do this as part of the investment program during the year. As for road construction, major projects will be implemented this year in relation to trunk, intercity, rural and intra-village roads. The construction of a new Baku-Sumgayit-Russian border, Ganja-Georgian border and Astara-Iranian border highways is planned on. Last year, 1,300 kilometers of roads were built. We planned on about a thousand kilometers, but due to additional income, 1,300 kilometers of roads were built during the year using the resources of the President’s Contingency Fund and the state budget," President Ilham Aliyev said.
The head of state noted that infrastructure projects are being implemented as part of the fourth state program on the socioeconomic development of the regions adopted at the beginning of last year.
"This is a five-year program. The previous three programs have been successfully completed. I am sure that there will be no problem with the implementation of the fourth program either. So I believe that after the completion of the program, all our infrastructure projects, including those related to the social infrastructure, will be implemented. At the beginning of last year, a strong earthquake occurred in Shamakhi, Agsu and Ismayilli districts. Fortunately, there were no casualties. However, thousands of homes were affected. Visiting the region in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, I promised that all houses would be rebuilt, repaired and restored before the onset of winter. As always, we have kept our word, all the main consequences of the earthquake have already been eliminated and thousands of houses have been built, repaired and restored. This shows again that people’s problems are in the spotlight. I said this before and want to say it again: a lot of educational work should be carried out in Azerbaijan in relation to property insurance," President Ilham Aliyev said.
The head of state noted that people need to know that homes and property must be insured.
"Considering the big gaps in this area in Azerbaijan, the state took the entire financial burden upon itself. Of course, this required large amounts of money, but let me say again that people’s comfort, well-being and decent living conditions are our priority. But I believe that it is necessary to take very serious steps related to property insurance, including public awareness, this year and in subsequent years. Various activities should be carried out in relation to this issue, to inform people in detail about future steps. I am instructing the government to pay attention to this issue. This will also have a positive impact on the development of our country's insurance sector," President Ilham Aliyev said.