"Weak Transparency Hinders Economic Development in Azerbaijan" – Official Representative of Freedom House
Azerbaijan, Baku, 30 July / Trend corr. A.Badalova / Shortcomings of transparency hinders social and economic development in the country, Christopher Walker, an official representative of the Freedom House, said in the hearing of the United States Helsinki Commission dedicated to the state of democracy in Azerbaijan.
According to Walker, there is growing reason for concern that Baku's mismanagement of Azerbaijan's natural energy wealth, as evidenced by rising government expenditures and lack of transparency, will exacerbate the already serious problems of high inflation in the country, along with their corresponding negative implications for democratization and human rights.
In May of this year, the parliament revised the 2008 state budget to accommodate rising revenues from the State Oil Fund (SOFAZ), which had increased by 42 percent since the original 2008 budget was passed. As a result, state spending is up 30 percent from the original budget and now stands at roughly $14 billion.
The International Monetary Fund has also expressed concern, pointing to the "limited" capacity of Azerbaijan's economy to absorb such hefty expenditure on infrastructure, and the "inadequate ability" of officials to "implement large investment programs". Walker called the infrastructure projects positive in general.
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