Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (March 5-9)

ADB talks importance of Southern Gas Corridor

The Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) project will help promote regional cooperation and diversify gas import sources of several ADB member countries, Head of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Azerbaijan Office Nariman Mannapbekov said in an interview with Trend and Azernews.

"One of ADB's key mandates is to support the development of regional cooperation among its members, including those with energy security issues. The Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) project perfectly espouses this mandate, as it will help promote regional cooperation and will help diversify gas import sources of several ADB member countries. We believe that the project can generate additional revenue for the government. This can be used to implement social programs or new measures for economic diversification. It will also provide employment for many people - at least 1,800 permanent jobs are expected upon the project's completion," he said.

To date, the ADB has already approved funds in the amount of $1 billion for the Southern Gas Corridor CJSC.

The Southern Gas Corridor is one of the priority projects for the EU and provides for the transportation of 10 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas from the Caspian region through Georgia and Turkey to Europe.

At an initial stage, the gas to be produced as part of the Stage 2 of development of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field is considered as the main source for the Southern Gas Corridor projects. Other sources can also connect to this project at a later stage.

As part of the Shah Deniz Stage 2, the gas will be exported to Turkey and European markets by expanding the South Caucasus Pipeline and the construction of Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

ADB was founded in 1966 and 67 states are its members. The bank's headquarters is located in Manila, Philippines.

Azerbaijan became an ADB member in 1999. The country's share in the bank's capital is 0.5 percent.

ADB sees great potential in Azerbaijan’s railway sector

Asian Development Bank (ADB) sees great potential in Azerbaijan's railway sector, Nariman Mannapbekov, head of the ADB office in Azerbaijan, told Trend and Azernews.

"With the railway infrastructure installations in all strategic locations of Azerbaijan (border crossing points, ports, oil production and agricultural regions), railways' competitiveness will be enhanced, which is essential to the country's production, trade and distribution of bulk materials, such as agricultural and other products," he said.

Mannapbekov also stressed the importance of the North-South transport project being implemented by Azerbaijan and other regional countries.

"ADB saw the benefits of the North-South rail corridor, which will be more evident once the network from Yalama (northern border) to Astara (southern border) is upgraded, and the planned Rasht-Astara section is completed," Mannapbekov said. "We firmly believe that the two corridors (East-West and North-South) will enable ADY (Azerbaijan Railways) to capitalize on the country's crossroads location and provide safer, cheaper, more energy-efficient and less road-intensive freight and passenger transportation services."

The Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved granting of a loan for implementation of the North-South Transport Corridor Project, as well as for development of the railway sector of Azerbaijan. ADB itself will issue $400 million, and the French Development Agency (FDA) will provide another $175 million in co-financing.

The International North-South Transport Corridor is meant to connect Northern Europe with Southeast Asia. It will serve as a link connecting the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia. The corridor is planned to transport 5 million tons of cargo per year at the initial stage and over 10 million tons of cargo in the future.

Azerbaijani insurance firms can participate in creation of Labor Protection Fund

Azerbaijani insurance companies can take part in creation of Labor Protection Fund, insurance expert Khayal Mammadkhanli told Trend on March 7.

Insurance companies have the necessary financial means for this, according to him.

"There is no obstacle before the insurance companies for participating in creation and operation of the Labor Protection Fund. Each insurance company has its own fund of preventive measures. A part of the money collected by insurance companies is directed to this fund. Subsequently, these funds are used to prevent insured events. If these funds are not spent during a year, they are simply reckoned to the profit of the insurance company, "Mammadkhanli said.

Meanwhil, the expert notes that insurance companies should take part not only in creation of the Fund, but also in its management.

"The insurance companies should understand the principle of the Fund's activity, to where its funds will be directed. Only in this case, they can take part in creation of the Fund. But in this case, they should take a direct part in the management of the Fund. It is also necessary to define other sources of funding for the Fund, "Mammadkhanli said.

Azerbaijan's Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Population Salim Muslumov previously said that insurance organizations should actively participate in the creation of the labor protection fund.

"I believe that this system should be established in Azerbaijan, and insurance companies operating in this sphere should contribute to the creation of the fund," Muslumov said. "This will also allow insurance companies to participate in the work of the fund and control the deductions from it. I also believe that a part of the income of insurance companies should be allocated to this fund."

Presently, three insurance companies - Ateshgah Life, Qala Life and PASHA Life - render compulsory insurance services against accidents at work in Azerbaijan.

According to the data of Azerbaijan's Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FIMSA), in 2017 these insurance companies collected premiums worth 33.17 million manats for insurance against accidents at work with payments worth 4.23 million manats. In January 2018, fees and payments for this type of insurance amounted to 1.77 million manats and 446,700 manats, respectively.

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