Weekly economic review (Oct. 23-27)

Two more banks to merge in Azerbaijan by late 2017

Two more banks are expected to merge in Azerbaijan by late 2017, a source involved in the talks told Trend.

The source has not disclosed the names of the banks.

“They are quite big banks,” the source said. “The initiative to merge the banks is supported by both the country’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FIMSA) and the Azerbaijan Banks Association (ABA).”

It has been reported that some banks are negotiating about the merger, namely, Unibank and Demirbank, Bank Respublika and Rabitabank, as well as Nikoil Bank and AGBank.

“At present, Unibank does not hold negotiations about the merger with other banks,” Faig Huseynov, chairman of the bank, told Trend. “Nevertheless, Unibank is always open for such negotiations.”

In an interview with Trend, Zakir Nuriyev, ABA chairman, head of the Supervisory Board of Rabitabank, also denied rumors about merging with Bank Respublika.

Nuriyev stressed that as the ABA head, he supports merger of banks and considers it necessary to further intensify the negotiations in that direction.

"We do not want the banks in the country to shut down due to a shortage of capital,” he said. “We want them to continue their activity and therefore, we support the merger of banks."

Also a source close to Nikoil Bank told Trend, “Although there were plans about Nikoil Bank’s merger with AG Bank, they turned out to be futile as Nikoil Bank’s management regarded this idea inexpedient."

Today, there are several successful examples of merger of banks in Azerbaijan. For example, Unibank was established as a result of merger of Mbank and PromTexBank. Another example is the merger of AtaBank and Caspian Development Bank this year.

Azerbaijan to create road map for banking sector

A road map for the banking sector will be prepared in Azerbaijan, according to the concept of social and economic development of the country in 2018 and the next three years, submitted to the country’s parliament for discussion.

According to the document, a number of measures are planned to be taken in 2018-2021 to improve the banking system and ensure financial stability of the sector.

In particular, during the reporting period, it is planned to improve the mechanism regulating the core banks, restructure banks that have not restored the stability of capital, expand liquidity tools, create a legal mechanism to encourage the sale of non-performing assets, and use a healthier risk management system in the banks.

Moreover, the access to financial resources is planned to be improved, as well as a new framework is planned to be created for banking regulation based on medium-term risk assessment.

Among the plans are also encouragement of participation of the banking sector in the securities market, development of an inter-bank monetary market, and improving the transparency of financial statements of banks.

Use of blockchain to allow Azerbaijan reducing time of customs inspections

The application of blockchain technology will allow Azerbaijan significantly reducing the time of customs inspections in cargo transportation, Maryam Taghiyeva, chief systems architect of the British Center for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance, told Trend.

The technology should be of interest for Azerbaijan, especially in connection with the implementation of major projects for transit cargo transportation, according to her.

Taghiyeva noted that realization of the North-South and East-West transport corridor projects sets the task of speeding up customs inspections for Azerbaijan.

“The use of blockchain technology in the customs sphere is very topical, especially for Azerbaijan which is involved in major transport corridors. If all countries participating in the transport corridors agree to use blockchain in customs clearance, the process will take much less time,” she said, adding blockchain can also be used to determine the authenticity of certain goods.

Taghiyeva said the application of blockchain allows customs bodies obtaining all information about the cargo before it arrives at customs.

“Due to the fact that all the information about the product comes much earlier than the product itself, and since it is on blockchain, it is open to everyone,” she said, noting that customs officers just verify compliance of identification numbers and put their electronic signatures.

Blockchain is a method of storing data or a digital registry of transactions, deals, contracts. Its main distinction and advantage is that the register is not stored in one place but is distributed among thousands of computers worldwide.

Cost of living to increase in Azerbaijan in 2018

The cost of living is projected in the amount of 173 manats in Azerbaijan for 2018, which is 11.6 percent more than in 2017, according to the bill on "Cost of living for 2018 in Azerbaijan", which was submitted to the country’s parliament for discussion.

The amount of cost of living will reach 183 manats for the working-age population, 144 manats for pensioners, 154 manats for children.

The cost of living is 155 manats, namely, 164.5 manat for the working-age population, 130.2 manats for pensioners, 136.6 manats for children this year.

The criterion of need for 2018, which is necessary for assigning targeted state social assistance, will reach 116 manats and will not change compared to 2017.

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