Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the meeting with staff of the Zardab Central District Hospital and representatives of the district public
02 december 2016, 17:45
My warm greetings to all of you! I am very pleased to be in Zardab District again. It is a very significant day in the life of Zardab District today. After a long break, the Central District Hospital is being made available to the local people. Excellent job has been done. Major repairs have been carried out. This hospital meets the highest standards now. All the landscaping work has already been done and the hospital is fitted with great and state-of-the-art equipment. I am sure that medical service here will also be at a high level.
The commissioning of the Central District Hospital demonstrates that we are successfully implementing our social policy. Social policy is our key direction. People's health, their longevity and a healthy lifestyle are our top priorities. The people of Azerbaijan deserve the most sophisticated medical service and are receiving it today. In recent years, we have built or repaired more than 600 modern medical facilities in Azerbaijan. Our country pursues a policy of free-of-charge medical examination. Millions of people undergo examination in the newly-established medical institutions every year. They are provided with the necessary service. In other words, the government protects the health of our citizens.
When attending the opening of hospitals in previous years, I have repeatedly said that everyone should undergo examination every year. We have already achieved that. This year, more than four million people across the country have been examined in modern hospitals.
Other healthcare measures have been taken in Zardab District as well. Four years ago, I attended a ceremony to mark the supply of drinking water to the city of Zardab. Prior to that, drinking water was supplied in a schedule manner - for 4-5 hours per day, and the quality was leaving a lot to be desired. However, drinking water consistent with World Health Organization standards has now been supplied for four years. This was also a major social infrastructure project. The purpose of this project is to serve people and protect public health. The doctors present here will know that water is very important. Clean drinking water has a direct positive impact on human health.
Other projects are also under way in Zardab District - rural roads and numerous schools have been built. Social facilities are opening in Zardab District. Jobs are being created. In the current circumstances, we are paying particular attention to the development of entrepreneurship. Agricultural development is well under way. This year, we have taken important steps related to the implementation of government programs in this direction. We are currently developing various sectors of agriculture – cotton and silk growing. Major strides have been made in these areas over the year. People are earning good money.
We have extensive programs for next year. I am told that after a long break about 6 tons of silkworm have been harvested in Zardab this year. Next year this figure is expected to grow at least three times. After a long break, cotton has been sown on an area of about a thousand hectares, and the collection is still under way. Next year, cotton will be sown on an area of 3,000 hectares. Currently, a major project on irrigation of new acreage is being implemented in Zardab District. This is currently one of the most important projects in the country. Next year, we will provide water to tens of thousands, perhaps over 100,000 and 150,000 hectares of new farmland. Of these, the first project is being implemented in Zardab District. This, in turn, will help us create new jobs. People will be provided with jobs, will earn good money and live even better.
Creation of jobs is an ongoing process in Azerbaijan because, unlike some other countries, our population is growing. This is also a sign of economic development. Every year the population of Azerbaijan increases by more than 100,000 people. Therefore, the creation of jobs should be a continuous process. Here in this hospital we have created more than 500 jobs. We will continue to try to keep unemployment at its lowest level.
The comprehensive development of our country continues. In comparison with recent years, 2016 has been the most difficult year for the country's economy for objective reasons. Despite this, we have taken very serious measures to reduce the negative effects of the global recession and managed to achieve that. We are finishing the year with good performance. The growth of the non-oil industry and agriculture, of course, is the result of the work done. We have managed to preserve foreign exchange reserves. This is also a very important issue because foreign exchange reserves in most oil-rich countries are either depleted or reduced. We are saving them because this is necessary for our state and people. This gives us confidence and provides optimism for the future.
The solution of social issues will continue to remain a priority. Although oil prices have dropped three- to fourfold, such wonderful medical facilities are still created in Azerbaijan. The needs criteria will be upgraded, and other social programs will be implemented in full next year.
Very serious measures have been taken to create jobs. All our regions are thriving today. People happily engage in agriculture, the government provides them with supports, pays subsidies, allocated fertilizer, fuel and machinery on favorable terms. So we are trying to do everything we can for people to live better and protect themselves from the negative impacts of the global crisis.
All of the steps we have taken are social in nature and are the embodiment of social justice because those who live well should give back more, pay more taxes and bear more utility costs. Low-income and middle-class categories should be and are protected by the state. This is a principle of social justice. We are going along this path. We follow the principle of a market economy. At the same time, the focus is always on the social security of our citizens. Therefore, we will continue to address social issues and the policies associated with economic development in the years ahead.
We will continue to take steps for the successful development of Zardab District. We will implement new projects on the construction of rural roads, take steps related to the repair of buildings, in particular high-rise buildings. As I have already noted, serious measures will be taken to encourage agricultural entrepreneurship.
Let me greet all of you again and congratulate you on this wonderful event.