Baku, August 24, AZERTAC
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received in a video format Faig Qurbatov due to his appointment as head of Bilasuvar District Executive Authority and Elmir Baghirov due to his appointment as head of Saatli District Executive Authority.
The head of state addressed the video conference.
Speech of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- You are being appointed as heads of the executive authority of Bilasuvar and Saatli districts today. Great confidence has been placed in you. I am sure that you will live up to this confidence through your work. First of all, the situation in the districts should be properly analyzed and the existing shortcomings and deficiencies should be investigated. Issues of concern to the people should be resolved. If a problem cannot be resolved at the district level, then you should contact central executive bodies, the Presidential Administration, the Cabinet of Ministers and relevant ministries.
You should always be with the people in your work. People should be able to feel your support. You have to visit all the villages one by one, meet with the people, learn about the existing problems from them and resolve them. I have said this several times and I want to say again that if the existing problems in all the villages of our country are resolved, we can raise our work to a higher level.
In the districts you will be leading, a lot of work has been done by the state and using public funds within the framework of state programs on the socioeconomic development of regions. All infrastructure projects in the districts are being successfully implemented. A significant part of these projects have already been implemented and completed. As you know, the fourth regional development program is being implemented now, and appeals from the ground have played a special role in the development of these programs. These programs have been developed on the basis of requests from the field and they are being implemented consistently. If the first program had not been adopted in 2004 and other programs in the following years, the regions of Azerbaijan would not have developed so much. We have either completed major infrastructure projects in all our regions or are very close to completing them. In particular, in Bilasuvar and Saatli districts, issues related to electricity have been resolved. Gas supply rate is approaching 100 percent. It should be 100 percent. In the coming years, gas supply rate should reach 100 percent.
Highways are being built. Drinking water projects have been completed. This has always been a serious problem for both Saatli and Bilasuvar cities. At present, residents of these cities receive drinking water that meets the standards of the World Health Organization. At the same time, these issues in the villages are resolved thanks to modular treatment plants and artesian wells. This should continue to be in the spotlight, along with irrigation issues, because the drought of both last and this year has created major problems for our people and hindered a faster development of agriculture. Considering that both Saatli and Bilasuvar are grain- and cotton-growing districts, then, of course, the water factor is of great importance here.
The reforms currently underway in the field of agriculture in our country are bearing fruit. In seven months, there was an increase in agriculture. This growth has not been very high though – it could have been higher. But I want to say again that the drought has created major problems. The main goal in both grain and cotton growing is to increase the yields. I think there are opportunities for this. This year the average grain yield in the country exceeds 30 quintals. At the same time, some farms where modern technologies are applied and irrigation problems are being resolved, this figure has reached 70 quintals per hectare. This is a result at the level of the most advanced European countries. In other words, this indicator suggests that it is possible. We simply need the right approach and compliance with all agro-technical rules. Irrigation issues must be resolved.
The direct and indirect investments in the development of agriculture in recent years, including infrastructure projects, have paved the way for major growth. There are no problems with the provision of machinery. Very important steps have been taken to make government subsidies more transparent, reforms have been carried out. A more comfortable system has been created for farmers, a very transparent system has been created, as this should also be the case. As you know, farmers are receiving a lot of subsidies. We must make sure that serious control is exercised over these subsidies so that there are no violations. Local executive bodies have a major role to play in this.
The development of entrepreneurship is directly related to the overall development of our country. Our economy must maintain and strengthen its sustainability. In order to achieve this, of course, our non-oil sector must develop. This development was very fast until 2020. Due to the pandemic, an economic downturn is observed in all countries, including ours. But this figure is quite low in our country. The economy fell by only 2.8 percent in seven months. In some developed countries, this figure has reached 30 percent, in Europe it has reached 20 percent. It averages about 15 percent in the Eurozone. Therefore, I think that the low level of this figure in Azerbaijan should be viewed as a great achievement on our part. In the non-oil sector, in particular, in the field of industrial production, there is development –it is at 13 percent. I think this is a historic achievement for the current period. How did we achieve this? Through the development of entrepreneurship, as a result of the low-interest loans provided and the responsibility of entrepreneurs. The class of entrepreneurs that has already emerged in Azerbaijan plays an important role in the development of the country's economy, and you should also support entrepreneurs.
Unfortunately, entrepreneurs in some districts are treated unfairly, artificial barriers are created for them, local executive bodies ask them for bribes or a share in their business. Obviously this must not be allowed and there must be rigorous control over these issues. Entrepreneurs should only receive support and assistance from government officials. Entrepreneurs should only pay state taxes. No money should be paid to anyone else in addition to that. Of course, I have a special and positive attitude towards entrepreneurs who are aware of their social responsibility and support people in difficult situations, and I am glad that there is a growing number of such entrepreneurs in recent years. The state supports entrepreneurs, protects them, creates conditions and does everything possible to increase their income. Entrepreneurs, in turn, should pay the state tax in full. The shadow economy and double-entry bookkeeping should not be allowed. If this is allowed, then such entrepreneurs should be held accountable. At the same time, entrepreneurs should help people still living in a dire situation today.
Bilasuvar and Saatli districts are currently home to IDPs expelled from their homes as a result of the military aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan. Suitable conditions are being created for them. I remember that the first settlement for IDPs I inaugurated as president was in Bilasuvar district, and you need to pay special attention to the IDPs. The state provides this support, as you know, new houses are built for the displaced people, new settlements are being established. This year alone, 7,000 families of displaced persons have been provided with new apartments and houses. At the same time, the allowance paid to them is also increasing. Last year it was increased further by 50 percent.
You should try to attract investments to the districts you will be leading, attract both local and foreign investors to the districts. You should interest them, create conditions for them, because no region or district can develop without investments. True, the vast majority of the work today is carried out at the expense of the state –primarily, infrastructure and other projects. But developing the private sector naturally requires investment. I should also note that it is not so easy to attract foreign investors to agricultural districts at the present time – we should all understand this. In particular, the still ongoing financial and economic crisis in the world limits these opportunities. At the same time, during the pandemic, economic activity has sharply declined in general. It is impossible to say when global economic activity will recover and whether it will happen in the near future. Therefore, we must approach this issue very pragmatically and know that the areas attractive for foreign investors in Azerbaijan are associated with the energy industry – oil and gas projects, electricity generation, renewable energy, transport projects. As for agricultural projects, of course, we must try. But our main hope lies with local investors. First of all, local entrepreneurs should invest in Azerbaijan. Today, Azerbaijani entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the stability and calm that are strengthening in our country with every day, the support provided by the state, the conditions created for them, the economic liberalization by investing heavily in foreign countries. This is natural, this is how the world economy is run, and we cannot prohibit it. But Azerbaijani entrepreneurs investing tens of millions of dollars in foreign countries should first of all think about their homeland, their people. They should think about the fact that today, during the pandemic, unemployment may increase in the circumstances of a sharp drop in the oil price. Of course, this should be a moral obligation of entrepreneurs. Therefore, addressing Azerbaijani businessmen, I want to say that under current conditions your funds should work for the country's economy. Invest in Azerbaijan. Your investments are protected at the highest level here.
The business environment in Azerbaijan is improving with every year, and I believe that we have made some historic achievements within the Doing Business program. The president and the government will continue to support entrepreneurs. Therefore, I do not think that it would be right to invest heavily in foreign countries in the current situation. Let the pandemic end, the situation in the oil markets stabilize, economic growth pick up, and then I don’t mind, as I haven’t done before. But in the current situation, I think this is unacceptable. Of course, we can not prohibit it in any legal way. Neither do we have such ideas. But we can exercise control over this, and relevant agencies of Azerbaijan should pay serious attention to this. If Azerbaijani businessmen, including representatives of large businesses, want to invest in foreign countries in the current situation, they will have to justify it and this issue should be in the spotlight.
I believe that after these words, the private sector will invest more in the country's economy, including the regions. You, as district leaders, need to create good conditions for entrepreneurs, which in itself will lead to the creation of jobs. There is a need for this because some people have temporarily lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Therefore, the state came to their aid, extended its hand and supported them. As you know, the state provides material support to people who have lost their jobs, including those who are employed unofficially. At the same time, a record number of paid public jobs are opening this year. The number of such jobs will reach 90,000. Transparency is also necessary in this area because the criminal acts of all the heads of executive authority arrested recently were practically the same. Among other things, it became common for them to embezzle wages from paid public jobs provided for the poor. People’s payment cards were found in the offices of all the arrested heads of executive authority or their assistants. It is disgraceful to set your eyes on the money of the poor, especially considering the fact that their wages are at the level of the minimum wage. We need a mechanism of rigorous control over this issue, both by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population and by local executive bodies. This issue is under my control. There must be complete transparency in this area and in all other areas.
The fight against corruption and bribery in Azerbaijan is being waged not in word but in deed. This struggle is highly appreciated by the people. I receive thousands of letters from citizens. They welcome my steps and, at the same time, draw my attention to some issues. I am glad that the mechanism of public control has become more organized lately. I welcome that. You, too, must rely on people in your work; the mechanism of public control in the districts must be perfect. This will help you in your work as well. Some issues you have not paid attention to will be brought to your attention by the public and thus be resolved.
There are cases of corruption and bribery in all countries. The main thing is through what prism the state and government approach these issues. Tolerance to these issues in Azerbaijan is at zero level, and I think that the work we are doing confirms this. The heads of not only local but also central executive bodies have been brought to justice, and these issues are made public. The public must be aware of all the work being done. At the same time, my recommendations related to people’s appointment to senior positions are being communicated to the public. I can say that throughout my presidency, I have been giving recommendations to the newly-appointed heads of executive authority, and these recommendations reflect our common approach. We have been presenting this to the public so that it knows and so that the residents of the districts you will be leading also know what instructions I have given you and how you are implementing them. Therefore, the people will give the most correct and fair assessment of your work. I am sure that you will work in such a way that people will be satisfied with your work.
You also need to earn people's respect with your conduct. You must be modest both at work and at home – both yourself and your next of kin. You should not take actions that might annoy people. Do not consider yourself superior to everyone. Some minor officials at times act as if the whole world owes them a debt. They act like khans, beys and look down at people. I have repeatedly said that all government officials, including the President, are servants of the people. That is why we are in this position. That is why the people have trusted me, and I demand this from all the personnel I have appointed. But, unfortunately, quite often, not in some cases but quite often, government officials cannot behave. They believe that they have been given some special privileges. They break laws, and in some cases very seriously. They violate the traditional norms of conduct that have formed in our society. They consider themselves superior to the people, look down at them. Therefore, as soon as such facts are reported to me, I immediately give appropriate instructions and these people are either punished in an administrative manner or are brought to criminal liability. The humility of a leader is befitting of them. A leader must have the moral right to demand something from his subordinates. If there is no moral right to do so, you may say or do whatever you want, but you will not enjoy respect or esteem. Therefore, you should serve as an example both in everyday life and in your work. You must act modestly. This applies to all officials, everyone who works in public jobs. Our policy on this issue is also manifested in concrete deeds. I believe that everyone is already convinced of this. The bitter consequences of breaking the rules should be a lesson to everyone.
The right steps must be taken in personnel policy. In some cases, leaders promote people who are close to them and who are loyal to them, while other characteristics of such people are not taken into account. First of all, people loyal to the state, people loyal to the Motherland, not to a certain government official, should be promoted. People who value independence and our independent life above everything else, people who are patriotic, raised in the national spirit and on the basis of national values should be promoted. And, of course, the professionalism of these people must be at a high level. Therefore, personnel policy should be based on these principles. This should also become the main principles of your work as heads of executive authority – loyalty to the Motherland, to the state, professionalism, transparency and honesty. In this case, the people will support you and I will highly appreciate your work. Otherwise, if you go along a curved path, you will have to answer before the law.
I am sure that all my instructions and recommendations will become the main principles in your daily life, the atmosphere in Bilasuvar and Saatli districts will improve in a short time and the development of the districts will be ensured. I congratulate you and wish you success.
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