- The state program on the socioeconomic development of Baku and its suburban settlements was approved in May last year. In March last year, we gathered in this room to have an extensive exchange of views on the future program. In May, the program was approved and began to be realized.
I can say that this is not the first program on the development of Baku and its suburban settlements. The first program was written in 2005. In 2005, specific measures were taken to accelerate the socioeconomic development of the Baku settlements. Those measures covered the 2006-2007 period. And this was natural because, as you know, the program on the socioeconomic development of districts was adopted in 2004. Our focus was on the development of districts. At the same time, the city of Baku and its suburban settlements could not remain out of focus. So this logical sequence suggests that the problems facing the country and all our districts are solved consistently and purposefully.
The first program on the development of Baku was a short-term one. Certain work was carried out under that program. But the city is developing and its population growing. Both the industrial and economic potential of our country is expanding. We are facing new tasks. So this should be a continuous process, which is why last year we raised the issue of adopting a new program. I am very pleased that immediately after the program was adopted, work in the settlements and in Baku proper was further stepped up. I want to repeat that this program was adopted to accelerate the socioeconomic development of the entire Azerbaijani state, Azerbaijani districts. In general, the state program on the development of all Azerbaijani districts prepared in 2008 and approved in 2009 will last until 2013.
So I am sure that the key socioeconomic and infrastructure issues will be resolved in our districts, in Baku and its suburban settlements by the end of 2013. This task has been set. I am sure that we will achieve it, we will fulfill this task. Because all the issues that have faced is in the past have been resolved with high quality and in a timely manner.
The implementation of such major programs is facilitated by overall economic development of our country. And we have achieved this economic development ourselves – by hard work and thought-out policies. If we analyze the overall socioeconomic indicators of our country, we can see that in the past eight to nine years there is no other country in the world that would develop like Azerbaijan. This is evidenced by all the economic indicators. Our economy has tripled. Our industrial capacity has also increased three times. Poverty has decreased five times. The rate of unemployment has decreased significantly and is lower than in developed countries today - 5.4 per cent. Over the years our country has opened more than a million jobs. The vast majority of these jobs are permanent.
The implementation of these programs and initiatives has given an impetus to the successful development of our country. Currently, specific measures are taken to diversify the economy. These measures are paying off. International financial institutions and rating agencies are very positive about the situation in Azerbaijan. They cite Azerbaijan’s successes as an example to other countries.
As you know, there is a financial and economic crisis in the world now. Another wave of the crisis has begun. But the consequences of the crisis were felt in Azerbaijan neither in 2008-2009 nor at this stage. The well-being of Azerbaijani citizens has improved. Salaries, pensions, social initiatives in Azerbaijan are increasing every year, people’s deposits in Soviet banks are being repaid. As a result of the crisis, there is growing unemployment and social injustice in developed countries, riots have become a daily phenomenon.
There are mass layoffs. Salaries and pensions are cut back. In Azerbaijan we see the opposite. The rapid development and recovery observed in all sectors, annual progress in addressing social issues, pensions and salaries, a significant increase in pensions last year are consistent with the principles of social justice and, at the same time, are very effective means of improving the well-being of our people.
Of course, underlying our success are economic reforms. These economic reforms have given us the opportunity to implement specific programs in any field. The peculiarity of the programs implemented in Azerbaijan is that they are specific. They are not declarative and are not adopted for the sake of propaganda. At the core of each program there is a specific task, material and financial resources, technical possibilities are certainly analyzed. Our technical capabilities are also expanding. Of course, programs are implemented by the people. Of course, people’s professionalism and proper performance of duties are at the center of our attention. I can say that the absolute majority of programs are implemented successfully in our country.
Our future economic development will be very positive. This is evidenced by the experience gained and the results achieved. Our strategic plans are also aimed at a comprehensive development of the country. A program and a state concept “Azerbaijan 2020” have been prepared. At the same time, we have outlined the future development program spanning the years 2013-2023. Some time ago I set the task: in 2013-2023 Azerbaijan’s GDP must double due to the non-oil sector. Ultimately, this will allow Azerbaijan to join the ranks of high income countries.
This is the task: Azerbaijan must become a developed country. This goal has been set and we will achieve it. I want to repeat that there is no disagreement in society about the future of our country.
Our society, Azerbaijani citizens support our initiatives and endorse current policies. The stability, civic solidarity, civic unity and economic development prevailing in Azerbaijan are a manifestation of our common policy. There can be no development without political stability.
But development itself should both strengthen the country and, above all, improve people’s well-being. We are working in this direction in Azerbaijan.
Sometimes economic reforms lead to major difficulties. In particular, fundamental economic reforms are accompanied by great hardship. We have conducted fundamental economic reforms. We have successfully overcome the transition from a planned to market economy, and social issues have always been in the spotlight in this period.
Even in developed countries some adjustments are made to conceptual approaches because sometimes the principles of market economy completely overshadow the human factor. The principles of market economy are fully established in Azerbaijan – the private sector accounts for 83 per cent of our economy. At the same time, social programs are implemented. That is to say that the future economic development of our country will be very positive, which will enable us to implement all the programs in a timely manner and with high quality.
“The state program on the socioeconomic development of Baku and its suburban settlements” has been under way for a year now. The program was approved in May last year, and today we talk about the work done over the year.
I can say that while the program was in preparation, I repeatedly visited the settlements. In general I regularly visit the districts, Baku and suburban settlements to become acquainted with the situation on the spot. But at that time I traveled even more often because I wanted to know the situation better and find out what people think. Some provisions of the program have been incorporated into it on suggestions from the field, because people living in a settlement are better aware of their problems and how they should be addressed. Of course, we knew that too. But for clarification I traveled frequently myself. The program reflects practically all the proposals from the field. The program has been published and everyone can read it.
However, the experience of the first year shows that additional issues may arise. We identify these issues ourselves, because certain problems that were not relevant a year ago have emerged during the implementation. For example, we first raised the issue of reconstruction and rebuilding of schools that are in poor condition. And it is not so easy to determine which school is and which is not in disrepair. Now we are dealing with the issue of such schools, but there is also an issue of restoring schools that have not been renovated properly. Thus, we have offered to allocate additional funds for this purpose.
As far kindergartens, the issue of their renovation and construction is being addressed. But I have repeatedly visited kindergartens over this period and seen that we are no longer satisfied with the established limit on the number of children. These kindergartens were built 30-40 years ago. The city's population is growing, the needs are growing, there are families in the line. Parents want to send their children to renovated kindergartens. So the issue of building new kindergartens emerges. We could either allocate new places for the construction of such kindergartens or expand the existing ones. So there are many such issues and the program will be updated. The government has been instructed accordingly. The additional revenue resulting from the execution of our budget has enabled us to allocate a certain portion for this program and increase the funding.
The situation in the settlements is known to us. The task has been set: to solve all the socioeconomic and infrastructure issues in settlements and we have seen the successful implementation of this work over the past year. Today we will talk about it in more detail.
But in principle, the program envisages to resolve key infrastructure issues, most notably water and sewage projects.
There have never ever been sewage systems in suburban settlements. The sewage system in Baku does not meet our needs either. People have always experienced a shortage of water, at all times, and have grown somewhat used to it.
But this is not a normal situation, there should always be drinking water. Issues related to energy supply, gas supply and heating, road construction, including intra- and inter-settlement and trunk roads, the construction of social facilities, schools, health centers, cultural institutions, sports facilities – there is no issue that is not reflected in these programs.
Again, the advantage of this program is that it has been put forward as an initiative by the state, by the President. But many of the issues included in the program were initiated by people in the form of proposals. I am absolutely sure that the implementation of this program will help resolve all the infrastructure and socioeconomic issues in the settlements.
Besides, by allocating extra funds from the state budget to support the activities of the National Entrepreneurship Support Fund, we channeled them into the creation of jobs in the settlements. Because, as you know, this fund previously dealt more with the issues of economic development in our districts. And this is natural because our goal was to revive the districts. But the problem of unemployment also exists in settlements. So, starting this year, a portion of the funds, about 30-40 per cent, is spent on creating new businesses in the settlements. The stands here in the lobby have pictures of the first business established using these funds. This issue must also be resolved. We must address not only the problems of roads, gas, electricity and water in the settlements, but also the issues of unemployment.
I want to repeat that we have a strong will and possibilities to achieve these goals. A lot also depends on the structures dealing with these problems on the ground. All the organizations - the Mayor’s Office, the Ministry of Economic Development, local executive authorities treat these tasks conscientiously. I am sure that this approach will be continued until completion of the program and beyond, because our duty is to serve the people. We, the people working in public service – from the President and to the clerks of grass-roots level – should serve the people. This is how I take this obligation and duty and this is how I have worked for these nine years. And I demand it from everyone. We need to work conscientiously and professionally serve the people, strengthen our country and contribute to the prosperity of our motherland. A lot depends on our work. Today Azerbaijan is growing because of the hard work of its people.
Of course, the government supported by the people facilitates this development through its policies.
We have specific programs on all areas, we have ideas on all matters. The realities of Azerbaijan indicate that we have chosen the right path. We will continue to pursue our policies in the international arena, in the region and, of course, domestically to protect our national interests. I want to reiterate that this policy is based on the will of the people.
Underlying this policy are the citizens of Azerbaijan. All government agencies should work even harder to improve the living conditions of Azerbaijani citizens.
Now let’s move on to discussions.