BAKU, Azerbaijan, September 22. Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Ali Asadov chaired an expanded meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers to discuss the draft state budget of the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2023 and the consolidated budget, as well as indicators of the consolidated budget for the next three years, the concept and projected indicators of the socio-economic development of the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2023 and the next three years, Trend reports citing the Cabinet of Ministers.
Opening the meeting, the Prime Minister paid tribute to the memory of the servicemen who died during the suppression of a large-scale provocation committed by the Armenian armed forces on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border, expressed deep condolences to their families and loved ones. It was noted that the entire responsibility for the tension lies with the military-political leadership of Armenia.
It was especially emphasized that strengthening the country's defense capability is one of the main and necessary issues facing the state. It was noted that strengthening the country's defense potential and the material and technical base of the army, providing it with modern military equipment and ammunition, as well as improving the social and working conditions of military personnel is one of the main areas of expenditure. The budget provides for this direction for the next year more than 5.3 billion manats.
It was also noted that, in general, the draft state and consolidated budgets for 2023 and the next 3 years were prepared in accordance with the strategy "Azerbaijan 2030: national priorities for socio-economic development", approved by the order of the head of state on February 2, 2021, and taking into account the goals contained in the "Strategy for socio-economic development for 2022-2026", approved by the head of state on July 22, 2022.
It was noted that in the state budget for 2023, 5.2 billion manats were allocated to finance projects and activities provided for by the Strategy.
It was also emphasized that President Ilham Aliyev, during his speech at a meeting dedicated to the results of the six months of 2022, gave the government a number of instructions in connection with the preparation of the state budget for 2023, which were taken into account in the process of preparing the draft budget.
Speaking about the successful development of the country, the Prime Minister stressed that this positive trend has continued for the first 8 months of this year.
"Thus, over 8 months, economic growth increased by 5.8 percent, including in the non-oil sector - by 10.3 percent, in the non-oil industry - by 9 percent. Our foreign trade turnover is $35 billion," the Prime Minister said.
It was noted that at present the country's strategic foreign exchange reserves have increased by $2.7 billion and amount to almost $56 billion, which is more than 7 times higher than the direct external public debt.
Presenting general information on the draft state budget for 2023, the Prime Minister noted that budget revenues are envisaged at the level of 30.7 billion, and expenditures at the level of 33.3 billion manats. Budget deficit to GDP ratio is 2.4 percent.
It was emphasized that strengthening social protection and social security of the population, families of martyrs, veterans, improving the social well-being of the low-income stratum of the population are constantly in the focus of attention of the head of state. To continue reforms in this direction, to implement measures of social support for sensitive groups of the population, taking into account inflationary pressure, the social expenditures of the state budget for 2023 are provided for by 9.2 percent higher than in the current year.
In order to protect the health of the population, compulsory health insurance, meet the demand for medicines, conduct examinations, treatment and rehabilitation, as well as strengthen the material and technical base in this area, next year attention will be increased to providing the healthcare system.
According to the "Strategy of socio-economic development for 2022-2026", one of the main goals is to carry out reforms in the field of education. It is planned to implement measures to continue reforms in general education, expand the scope of vocational education, increase the availability and inclusiveness of higher education, and many other areas.
Recent regional and global geopolitical challenges, disruptions in production chains, and increased transport and logistics costs have led to rising global food prices, food shortages, food inflation in most countries to double-digit levels. The situation in the world food markets, as in most countries, makes the issues of food supply and security even more relevant for Azerbaijan, as well as reducing the level of dependence on imports. It was noted that the volume of state budget expenditures on food security measures, which are currently one of the main challenges on a global scale, will also be increased. In particular, for the activities arising from the Decree of the President of Azerbaijan "On a number of measures to increase the level of self-sufficiency in food wheat" dated July 19, 2022, the budget for the next year provides for appropriate funds. At the same time, it was emphasized that the development of agriculture is one of the top priorities for the government. In the budget for 2023, spending on agricultural development exceeds spending for this year by 20.5 percent.
It was noted that the budget for 2023 provides for 3 billion manats for the restoration of the Karabakh and East Zangezur economic regions, the reconstruction of cities and villages to ensure the Great Return to the liberated territories, the creation of modern infrastructure on them.
Further, Minister of Finance Samir Sharifov made reports on the draft state budget of Azerbaijan for 2023 and the consolidated budget and indicators of the consolidated budget for the next three years, Minister of Economy Mikayil Jabbarov - with a report on the concept and forecast indicators of Azerbaijan's economic and social development for 2023 and beyond three years, Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Population Sahil Babayev - on the draft budget of the State Fund for Social Protection of the Population of Azerbaijan.
It was decided to present these projects taking into account the voiced opinions and proposals to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.