From disproportion to equality

The importance of pursuing state policy of regional development already does not cause doubts. The changes resulted from the realization of five years State Program on Social-Economic Development of Regions (2004-2008) are obvious. This objective need ripened, when the weakness of the regions, where the inhabitants either left their places in search of the happiness in other country or they moved to the capital, became too obvious.

The efforts for the development of territories contribute to the best understanding of the prospects for the interregional co-operation of Azerbaijan with the European Union and to the gradual rapprochement of Azerbaijan with the EU. The practice of regional development has been successfully introduced since the beginning of 60s of the last century in some developed countries of the EU, in the USA, Canada, Japan. The fact is that during the history, regions were formed and developed at different methods and different rates.

Regions developed with the different speed, demographic disproportion formed, entrepreneur's initiative was manifested from one region to other one. These reasons and also irregular distribution inside the country and weak development of technical and social infrastructure, heterogeneity of natural and economic resources led to the fact that a significant social and economic gap formed between the capital and other territories of Azerbaijan.

Clearly, this break can be demonstrated on the difference of the remuneration for labor in the capital and in the regions. According to official statistics, average monthly wages in Azerbaijan in 2008 composed 268 manat. However, the inhabitants of Baku earn more (393 manat), and the smallest wages are gained by the inhabitants of frontal zone, in particular in Ter-Ter (140.9 manat) and Agdam (143.8 manat).

The salaries only in Nackchivan Autonomous Republic approach those in Baku, but other regions practically drop behind.

Amount of salary in 2008, in AZN

2007

2006

In Republic

268,0

214,0

141,3

Baku

393,8

341,0

229,5

Absheron economic zone

199,7

151,8

96,4

Ganja-Gazakh

172,0

128,6

81,9

Sheki-Zakatala

156,1

122,1

76,2

Lankaran

171,7

131,4

81,0

Aran

176,9

138,8

88,7

Guba-Khachmaz

188,3

146,3

93,1

Nagorno-Karabakh

153,7

110,4

67,6

Kelbejer-Lachin

173,5

131,3

76,3

Shirvan

171,6

129,7

79,4

Nackchivan economic zone

205,8

148,4

89,2

Nackchivan Autonomous Republic reached special success in growth of salaries due to policy of employment of local population. Thus, the number of officially registered unemployed people reduced from 7,425 people in 2007 to 361 people in 2008.   

The difference in the salaries causes flow of specialists from regions to the capital. However, in some cases, the high-qualified specialists obtain even more than those in the capital. The reason is simple: frequently there is no specialist of the required level in the small town simply, in connection with which it is necessary to invite them from Baku. And one of the basic arguments, which can force them to come from capital , is the higher wage and more comfortable conditions for the work. This principle acts for the Azerbaijani teachers at rural schools, which agreed to work in the far regions of the country for the high wage, and furthermore, they are free provided with housing and public services.

The general ratio in wages in Baku and regions remains constant for several years, since the wages in the capital and in the regions grow practically at an identical rate, last year averagely this increase was 25.2 percent.

In Baku the overall level of wages is high firstly due to concentration of the offices of big international and national companies, secondly - the standard of living in Baku is considerably higher than regions. With regards to the increase in the wages in the regions, it is directly connected with the regional development of regions, creation of new production facilities, opening of branches of large companies and banks, which are capable to pay high salaries in the regions like capital.

Villagers themselves agree to work in their lands if there would be workplaces. Working in Baku for a certain period, many people coming from the regions come to the conclusion that it is more advantageous to work in the regions even small wage. High cost of living in the capital literally "eats" their earnings. This gives grounds to forecast that in the future the flow of specialists into the capital will reduce, and later due to creation of jobs they can redirect to the regions. However, this situation will not lead to the absolute levelling of wages in the capital and regions. Time is required for this.

As a result of the first five-year program on development of regions, the investments in the development of the regions of the country grew six times to 3.9 billion manat in 2008 as compared to 2008. They made up 83 percent of the total amount of government investments. Covering all regions of the country, 27,500 enterprises were opened, 40 percent of which fall to the share of regions, and 766,000 new workplaces, where 80 percent fall to the regions.

The citizens have the right for equal living conditions regardless in what part of the country they live. Measures are taken at State level in order to remove the difference in the development of the regions. Furthermore, the success of the realization of the regional development policy will stimulate and accelerate the development of the country as a whole, in particular through reduction of the economic and social disproportions, which exist in the regions.

The policy of regional development works on achieving constant economic growth, effective development of small and medium business, diversification of economic activity and stimulation of investments in those regions, which are today least attractive. The successful realization of the policy of regional development is accompanied by the development of infrastructure, transport system, agriculture, environmental protection, improves the level of employment and professional training, level of education, works on development of small cities.

Evaluating the results of implementation of the five-year state program on social and economic development of regions, it is possible to agree with the fact that the first successes in this regard are already achieved.

Even the experts of the authoritative international analytical centers are forced to recognize that the program of the regional development of country is one of the highly effective projects of Azerbaijan government, which completely justified itself.

A new program on regional development will soon be approved for the next five-year period. It will be devised on the basis of the proposals, which were received from the regions, and will be very concrete - both for its periods of implementation of various articles and for the sources of funds. The priority directions of the new program will be the problems of water supply, improvement and irrigation.

This year the amount of finance allocated for the National Fund for Entrepreneurship Development of Azerbaijan will be increased. If earlier the amount was $100 million, this year it will be more. It decision of the government was based on the effective spending of the provided credits.   

Regional development is a long-term process. It requires permanent, wide and full participation of all factors. And it is very important that the local governments and civil society would actively participate in the realization of regional development policy.

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