President Ilham Aliyev: Currently, one of main goals of our economic development is to reduce shadow economy
BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 1
Currently, one of the main goals of our economic development is to reduce the shadow economy, said Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev during a videoconference with President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Suma Chakrabarti, Trend reports.
“We made good progress last year. This year, we are successfully moving in this direction. Major changes have taken place in Azerbaijan. There have been changes in the Presidential Administration, government, parliament, local executive authorities. They are going on. As for the plans for the future, I want to thank you personally and leadership of the bank for the importance being attached to Azerbaijan. We are very grateful to you for supporting the most important projects related to infrastructure and energy infrastructure, including the Southern Gas Corridor. We are moving on to an agreed agenda now. I would also like to comment on your words about our plans. As for the “green program”, we take this issue very seriously. I was informed that we currently have nine projects. The Ganja waste management project has already been given green light. I think that “Ganja-Green City” can be a good example for other large cities of Azerbaijan. As for renewable energy, we are very enthusiastic about that. Here is where we are now,” said President Ilham Aliyev.
The head of state recalled that in January, Azerbaijan signed preliminary documents with two experienced renewable energy companies related to the construction of 440-megawatt solar and wind power plants.
“As far as I know, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development plans to support them. It is very important that the coronavirus does not affect the plans of these companies. A few days ago, our Minister of Energy informed me that they are serious about their obligations. This, of course, will open the doors wide to other large companies. You probably know that seven major energy companies participated in the bidding. As for the companies that did not go through this time, we offered them the opportunity to conduct further negotiations. I agree with you that during the crisis we must take very serious measures. We should mobilize our efforts and spend more to find an easy way out of the crisis. This is a situation no-one was ready for. How will we overcome this situation? What will be the consequences? How should we evaluate these consequences and plan priorities? Therefore, Mr. President, we will need the support of the bank and your support, expert assistance, because, as I said, no country in the world has encountered such a situation. You have also mentioned the issue of irrigation. I can tell you that at present this issue may become the top priority in the infrastructure sector for us because all other infrastructure projects have been practically completed. Last year we faced a very serious drought,” said President Ilham Aliyev.
The head of state noted that there is a serious drought this year as well.
“The volumes of water in storages are as small as ever. Even the older generation can’t recall a drought as bad as last year. Therefore, irrigation is turning into a major infrastructure project. With this aim, I recently set up a state commission headed by our former Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev, who you know quite well. Other members of this commission are the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Economy, the Minister of Ecology, the Minister of Agriculture and the head of the state irrigation agency. They will first evaluate our water resources. To exercise control over water resources, we need an electronic system. After that, our infrastructure will be evaluated,” said President Ilham Aliyev.
He noted that most of it is a legacy of the Soviet era.
“Sometimes our water losses are as high as 40-50 percent because it is possible to say that these canals have completely lost their qualities. We will invite foreign experts. We rely on your support not only financially, but also from the point of view of expert skill, so that we have projects for both short and medium term. We do not need a long-term strategic plan because in that case we will need five years. We are ready to allocate resources. Of course, it would be wonderful if the bank could support us in that. The main thing is proper project management. As for state-owned enterprises, the Minister of Economy is working on this issue. As already noted, commercialization and partial privatization – perhaps we need to discuss this with you to know what initial steps should be taken. In fact, we are ready for this. There is still a corporate governance issue. Currently, as you know, we are primarily discussing the idea of a parent organization with a view to coordination because one of our problems is related to insufficient coordination between state-owned companies. Even in the transport sector, one of the most promising sectors today, we see that corporate interests of companies prevail over state ones. An additional working group will be established for this purpose,” said President Ilham Aliyev.