Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (Nov. 21-25)

WB continues help to macroeconomic stability in Azerbaijan

The World Bank continues work with Azerbaijan’s government to stabilize the macroeconomic situation in the country, Hans Timmer, WB chief economist for Europe and Central Asia, told reporters in Baku during a video conference from Bucharest, Romania.

He said the WB also cooperates with Azerbaijan towards stabilization of the situation in the country’s financial market, preparation of a medium-term fiscal framework and in other spheres.

Timmer recommends Azerbaijan’s government to be more attentive to the sensitive strata of the population when carrying out reforms to ensure macroeconomic stability in the country.

At the same time, the WB offers Azerbaijan five major recommendations, the first of which is to change monetary policy, switch to a flexible currency exchange rate, which has already been done, and to find a balance in this policy, Timmer said.

The second recommendation is to stabilize the financial sector, including the banking sector, and this is considered important not only for Azerbaijan, but also for other oil exporting countries, he noted.

The third recommendation is a stable medium-term budgeting with achieving a balance between oil and non-oil revenues, Timmer said.

The fourth recommendation provides for transparent and fair distribution of income, so that the main burden as a result of reducing the national income doesn’t affect the most sensitive strata of Azerbaijan’s population, he added.

The fifth recommendation involves the creation of new jobs, reforms to improve competitiveness by increasing business access to finance, he noted.

Latest updates on North-South Transport Corridor

Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia and India have agreed to officially start using a multiple mode of transportation to carry cargoes from India to Russia over the next one month as part of the North-South Transport Corridor, a senior official with Islamic Republic of Iran railways told Trend.

Deputy Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railway Company for Operation Affairs Hossein Ashoori has said that cargoes from India will be shipped to an Iranian southern port and then will be delivered to Russia through Iran and Azerbaijan using trains and trucks.

Elaborating on the decision, he said the participants put a train into test in the mentioned route carrying a cargo from India to Russia through Iran and Azerbaijan, about two months ago.

The cargo was shipped from Indian port of Mumbai to Iran’s southern port of Bandar-e Abbas on the Persian Gulf and then carried by rail to Iranian northern city of Qazvin, he said, adding the cargo was later carried by trucks into Azerbaijan’s Astara City, which was eventually delivered to Russia by train.

Ashoori said that the cargo was delivered in 22 days and the sides are capable of reducing the time to below 19 days.

He made the remarks during an interview on the sidelines of the International Rail Business Forum on "Strategic Partnership 1520: The Caspian Region" in Baku.

Construction of Rasht-Astara railway may take five years

It appears that the decision to deliver consignments using the combined transport system came as the ongoing project for connecting Iran’s railway to Azerbaijan has not been completed so far.

In order to complete the North-South Transport Corridor, Iran is expected to construct two inland railroad sections in northern parts of the country, Qazvin-Rasht (175 kilometers) as well as Rasht-Astara (162 kilometers) railways.

In the meantime, Azerbaijan has launched a project to extend its railway into Iran’s territory through the border city of Astara which is in its final stages and is projected to come on stream in near future.

The Qazvin-Rasht section is also expected to be completed over the next seven months, the official said.

Hossein Ashoori, however, forecasted that Rasht-Astara segment will take about five years to be completed.

The Iranian official noted that Iran is committed to carry cargos via available routes until the country completes the construction of the railway sections.

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