Aid on target

In accordance with the presidential decree, dated 16 November 2005, poor layers of population enjoy a right to receive targeted social aid. However, hopes pinned by this layer for РїРѕР"учиС'СЊ РѕС' государсС'РІР° merited social aid ruined. The facts of swindling along with the difficulty of collection of necessary documents (17 documents from different bodies), needed for becoming a beneficiary of targeted social aid, made the process too hard and inaccessible for the most in need.

Moreover, despite long activities of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Labor and Social Security jointly with the World Bank experts over mechanism of targeted social aid, the process of its application was accompanied by numerous technical faults. The Ministry did not have enough number of employees to launch the issue of benefits. Only in May 2006 young specialists on social inspection were employed after they passed the tests at the State Commission on Admission of Students. The new employees were conduced training at the Labor Ministry with the financial support of TACIS. The offices were equipped in hurry. The different in issue of benefits between urban and rural residents is linked with the delay in the development of method of calculation of living condition of rural residents.

Originally scheduled for 1 January 2006 the distribution of targeted social aids was delayed to 1 January 2006.

As of 1 December 2006, 300,000 families appealed to become beneficiaries of the targeted social aid. The documents of only 75,000 families have been registered at the Center for Social Security of Citizens, while 24,270 hopefuls failed due to falling short of necessary standards. At present 48,000 people receive benefits.

Taking into consideration these negative factors, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Labor and Social Security resolved to improve work on distribution of targeted aid. The Ministry asserts that starting from the next year the people will feel the results of activities of a special commission o study of legislation in social sector, which was established at the Ministry. At the same an Analytical Service will be established at the Ministry with respect to study property situation of the poor layers. The removal of current technical gaps will intensify the work of the commission, considering the appeals for targeted social aid. The commission includes representatives form 9 district organizations the Center of Employment, zonal representative from the Society of the Disabled, statistic administration, municipalities, representative of the Health Ministry, etc. Data collected at the Ministry will enable to collect data on the poor people who will benefit the allowances in future.

Through conduct of meetings with social employees and demonstration of films and advertisements for people to invite them to appeal to Government for targeted social aid, the public awareness on the distribution of targeted social aid is expected to increase among poor layers of population. For instance, many appeals made to the Ministry in the end turn out deceiving. Those claiming at targeted social aid use every mean to enter a list of the socially vulnerable. Thus, some residents register their land areas on other's name or sell the cattle. Moreover, some families hide their real incomes, indicating only the official salary. The appealed also decrease their income not including their employed members into the composition of the family.

Meanwhile, in accordance with the Law on Targeted Social Aid, only people with the incomes lower than the criteria of need due to reasons not depending on them (unemployment, loss of bread-winner, loss of labor ability, etc) can become beneficiaries of targeted social aid. At the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers, a schedule of a criteria of need' to become a beneficiary of targeted social aid is defined as 30 manats (150,000 old manats). Thus, the selection is carried out on unified conditions. The aid will be allotted to families for 6 months. The family can continue receiving benefits in the subsequent 6 months if its incomes did not increase

As a rule, the countries using targeted social aid relate the ceiling of need with indices of living subsistence. It can be 100%-coordination, when the minimum stands for the criteria of need, and sometimes 60-70%-coorduntion. The criteria of need (30 manats) existing in the country do not correspond any indicator. Thus, minimal salary is 35 manats, while the living subsistence is forecasted to comprise 58 manats by the end of 2006, though it was 52 manats in 2005. In 2007 the Government forecasts the living subsistence in 64 manats, in 2008 70 manats, in 2009 77 manats. The living subsistence is defined with the consideration of prices of 12 food, 9 non-food goods and 8 types of services.

As to annual definition of the criteria of need, the government's forecasts urge in 2006 this sum will be 30 manats. In 2007 it is forecasted at 40 manats, in 2008 55 manats, in 2009 65 manats and in 2010 75 manats. It comes out that the Azerbaijan Government targets annual increase of the criteria of need to the living subsistence, though none of the figures meets the price parameters of strict activities.

72m manats has been out of the public budget for payment of targeted social aid. The funds will cover 50,000 families or 250,000 people. The 2007 public budget envisages 78mln manats for the distribution of targeted social aid among 171,000 families or over 800,000 people. The researches by independent experts showed that Azerbaijani system of distribution targeted social aid cannot cover all poor people in the country.

Meanwhile, leading specialist of the Labor Ministry, Babek Huseynov, said that the Ministry is thinking over proposals over placement of part of funds into natural assistance, as it is applied in the United States, where the poor have an access to free medical treatment. The government should consider the variants on partial issue of benefits in the natural form, first of all to avoid the corruption while issue of aid. Taking into consideration the peculiarities of our mentality, any manifestation of corruption are not excluded to exist in the organization mechanism of the distribution of social aid. The activities of this mechanism should be transparent, subordinated to open and clear people and correspond to major principles of social aid.

According to head of the Secretariat on Poverty Reduction Programs of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Economic Development, Mehman Abbasov, the new program which covers 2006-2015 envisages poverty reduction in Azerbaijan 10% by 2016. One of the goals of the program is by-stage increase of the sum of criteria of need, used while appointing targeted social aid, to the living subsistence. It is also planned to reconsider the livening subsistence in Azerbaijan once three year. The fiscal side should also be taken into consideration while increasing the living subsistence. Thus, increase of the living subsistence influences on rise of salaries of some 0.5mln people, involved in the budget sector. It necessary to hold careful policy in this issue, as it affects on the level of inflation. As of 1 January 2006, the poor in Azerbaijan number 29.3% of the population.

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