Ilham Aliyev inaugurated distributary channel of Araz River in Imishli

22 october 2018, 12:00

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has attended the inauguration of a new distributary channel of the Araz River in Imishli district.

The head of state made a speech at the event.

Speech of President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear ceremony participants.

We are celebrating the commissioning of a new important infrastructure project in Imishli today. I sincerely congratulate you on this occasion. This project will give a new impetus to the economic development of Imishli and neighboring districts.

Numerous measures have been taken to speed up the development of Imishli District. This is my fifth visit to Imishli District as President. When I was in Imishli last time, we celebrated the launch of a drinking water project. The implementation of other infrastructure projects has had a positive impact on the overall development of Imishli District. Almost 50 per cent of rural roads have been overhauled and rebuilt. We will continue to do this work. The Baku-Imishli-Horadiz-Jojug Marjanli road meets the highest standards.

As I have already mentioned, a drinking water project has been launched and modular treatment plants installed in more than 40 villages. Gasification in Imishli District has reached 92 per cent. This is an excellent indicator. If we take into account the previous period, we can see that there is great progress in this direction. Electricity supply is improving and it is possible to say that there are no problems in this area. We will celebrate the opening of a new “Azerishig” control center today. Many important social infrastructure facilities have been commissioned. Among them I want to mention the Olympic sports center, the central district hospital for 130 patients, the youth center and other projects. A total of 25 schools have been overhauled and rebuilt.

We will also celebrate the launch of an “ASAN Həyat” center in Imishli today. This is a very important social project. As you know, “ASAN” is our intellectual product. Azerbaijan is already exporting this intellectual product to foreign countries. More than 180 jobs have been created for local citizens, especially young people, at the “ASAN Həyat” center. More than 40 volunteers will work at the “ASAN xidmət” center. This center will provide over 300 types of services. I am sure that Imishli District will achieve great progress in the field of social and public services.

The project we are gathered to celebrate today is of great importance not only for Imishli but also for neighboring districts. The construction of a new tributary of the Araz River is a project requiring large financial resources. At the initial stage, 80 million manats were invested in the project. The new tributary of the Araz River is 54 kilometers long. The new concrete water canal will provide water of 53,000 hectares of land. These opportunities will benefit farmers and workers of Bilasuvar, Imishli and Saatli districts. At the next stage, there are plans to supply water to another 10,000 hectares of land. Irrigation water will also be provided to lands in Sabirabad District.

First of all, the implementation of this project testifies to our strong economic opportunities because Azerbaijan is capable of and is successfully implementing any infrastructure project. We have implemented this project at our own expense. On the other hand, the construction of this canal demonstrates our intentions and policy. Our policy is to improve the lives of Azerbaijani citizens. We want people living everywhere, in all our districts and villages, to be provided with jobs, so that their well-being improves, and the state takes measures in this direction.

As far as the infrastructure projects are concerned, I can say that, in general, the economy of our country has more than tripled since the adoption of the first State program on regional development, in the past 15 years. The level of gasification in our country is about to reach 95 per cent. We will reach this figure by the end of this year. Azerbaijan has become a country exporting electricity. In nine months of this year alone, we exported electricity worth more than $50 million. This figure will increase even more in the future because we fully provide ourselves. Thanks to the “Shimal-2” power station with a capacity of 400 megawatts, which will be put into operation in the near future, our export opportunities will become even wider. Highways 15,000 kilometers in length are being put into operation. We will reach this figure by the end of this year.

Many important projects related to land reclamation have been implemented. Among them, I want to highlight four large water reservoirs. Their displacement is 450 million cubic meters. Of course, Takhtakorpu and Shamkirchay water reservoirs have a special place. The construction of new canals, concrete canals has gained momentum in our country, and one of these projects is the project we are launching here today. The adoption of land reclamation measures has a special place in our future plans. These projects will be reflected in state investment programs for the coming years. In particular, special attention will be paid to land reclamation measures in the fourth State Program on the Socioeconomic Development of the Regions to be adopted early next year.

We paid great attention to this area in previous years, and the projects I have mentioned are clear evidence of that. Even more attention will be paid in the coming years because this primarily serves to diversify the country's economy. On the other hand, it is possible to say that the implementation of other infrastructure projects is coming to the end. Of course, we will deal with projects on road construction, gasification and drinking water in the coming years. However, I believe that the implementation of land reclamation measures will continue to be the top priority issue.

We are seeing the results of the work done in recent years. Last year and in 2018, a total of 100,000 hectares of land have been provided with water. This immediately facilitates the development of the economy and agriculture. Last year, we provided water to an area of 100,000 hectares. I am told that this year water is to be supplied to 101,000 hectares of land, including 53,000 hectares as a result of the building a new tributary to the Araz River.

Of course, this will give an even greater impetus to the development of agriculture. I believe that indicators for this year are also reassuring. In nine months, agriculture grew by 4.3 per cent and will continue to grow further as a result of the measures already taken and to be taken in the future. Thanks to the implementation of irrigation projects, we are expanding our farmland, and additional measures will be taken in this direction. At the same time, where there is water, yields also increase. We are seeing an increase of the yields. In particular, we are seeing that in large farms. The yields in large grain farms are about 50 quintals, perhaps even more.

Therefore, land reclamation measures, very serious reforms in the field of agriculture, a scientific approach, correct analysis of land resources, provision of relevant recommendations to farmers, transparency in the provision of subsidies, delivery of agricultural machinery to our country by the state – I should note that more than 5,000 units of machinery were imported and provided to farmers on agricultural leasing terms this year and over 9,000 last year, farmers are provided with fertilizer and fuel on preferential terms, are completely exempt from all taxes except for the land tax – as a result of all these measures and the measures giving an impetus to the development of entrepreneurship, provision of preferential loans worth more than 2 billion manats, as well as other comprehensive measures, we seek to develop agriculture.

I can say with full confidence that there will be even more progress and success in this area in the coming years. After all, this sector also developed in previous years but now we will develop agriculture on the basis of the latest technologies, scientific approaches, proper analysis and implementation of infrastructure projects. This will increase our economic strength, strengthen the non-oil sector and also increase employment. At present, unemployment in Azerbaijan is at 5 per cent but it should be noted that the population of the country increases by more than 100,000 people every year. More than 100,000 people are born every year. This is also a great asset and advantage for us. But our economic development, in particular the creation of jobs, must be aligned with this development. Therefore, job creation is always high on our agenda.

Thanks to the measures taken in the field of agriculture in recent years and the increase in purchasing prices for many products, farmer interest in agriculture has significantly increased. It is possible to say that there are no serious problems related to employment in the countryside today - those who want to work will find a job. We simply need to use the new investment and new projects to expand these opportunities for farmers, and we will do that. By building the concrete water canal which requires major funds, we bring new life to 53,000 hectares of lands that were either not irrigated at all or were irrigated partially. We are creating opportunities for people to plant, cultivate, earn money, live even better, build homes and improve their well-being.

This is our main goal, and we are doing our best to achieve it. The results are obvious. As I have already mentioned, problems related to unemployment are being resolved; great attention will continue to be paid to entrepreneurs. The provision of concessional loans worth over 2 billion manats is a great achievement and a great result in itself. We have taken very important steps related to investment promotion. A new mechanism has been developed. As a result of the reforms alone, local entrepreneurs have invested over 2 billion manats in the country's economy since the launch of the investment promotion mechanism. So there are opportunities, favorable conditions have been created both by lending and at the expense of the entrepreneurs proper. The investment environment is very positive, and government support is evident. I should also note that there are plans to create 45 large agricultural estates. Thirteen of these will start functioning before the end of this year, some are already in operation and I personally attended their opening. The area of land used by 45 agricultural estates is around 200,000 hectares. Nothing was grown on these lands before – they remained unplanted. We have brought these lands back to life.

I should also say that the state provides support, including financial, for the creation of agricultural estates. Various infrastructure projects worth hundreds of millions of manats have been implemented to facilitate the operation of agricultural estates. The state is doing everything possible to make the lives of farmers and peasants even better. I do not believe that there is any other country that would use the same approaches and rules as us. Farmers are exempt from all taxes except for the land tax, which is very insignificant. Subsidies are provided. Fuel, fertilizer and loans are provided on favorable terms and with an interest rate you can’t hardly find anywhere else. State support is provided for the creation of agricultural estates, industrial zones, new infrastructure, land reclamation measures, as well as road, electricity, gasification and drinking water projects. Such is our policy. It enjoys popular support and approval and produces excellent results.

The construction of the concrete water canal of the Araz River we are celebrating today is a very important and significant event. As a result of this project, our country will achieve even greater development and our people will live even better. I sincerely congratulate all of you on this wonderful occasion and I wish you success. Thank you.

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Following the ceremony, Chairman of Irrigation and Water Management Open Joint Stock Company Ahmad Ahmadzade and Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev informed the head of state of the work carried out under the project.

The head of state pressed the key to launch the new distributary channel of the Araz River.