Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the opening Aghstafa Agro-Industrial Complex

04 march 2020, 12:00

Greetings! I am reviewing the operation of the Aghstafa agricultural estate for the third time. Every time I come here, I see innovation and development. I am glad that the agricultural estate has developed rapidly over these years, including my recommendations that were taken into account. So a modern production, commercial and trading complex has been created in Aghstafa district.

I first came here in 2012. At that time, we celebrated the first stage in the establishment of the agricultural estate. After that, in 2016, the foundation was laid of the enterprise I have just reviewed. And I am here again in 2020. I am glad and want to say again that the agricultural estate is a large enterprise that plays a very important role in the agricultural and processing sector of Azerbaijan. And this is natural because there are excellent conditions for entrepreneurs and investors in Azerbaijan. They know that the state is behind them. They know that Azerbaijan will continue to follow the path of stability. And this is the key thing for investors. Every investor, foreign or local, will certainly take these factors into account when planning to invest. During meetings with many foreign investors, the main thing they tell me is that there is stability in Azerbaijan. This stability is already 27 years old, and no-one doubts the further successful development of the country.

In addition, the infrastructure is available. If the state had not implemented infrastructure projects in the regions, investors would probably be looking for other places to invest. Huge work has been done in this area in Aghstafa district. During the opening of the new substation today, I was informed that the energy supply of Aghstafa district is at the level of 20 megawatts at present, but the potential is twice as high. So the creation of twice as many industrial enterprises and other facilities will be provided with existing energy capacities. Of course, a good level of energy supply is one of the key conditions for business. I should note that according to a report of the Davos World Economic Forum, Azerbaijan ranks second in the world in terms of the availability of electricity. Gas supply level in Aghstafa district is 90 percent. The level of repair of roads is about 90 percent. In 2013, a drinking water project was completed and commissioned. In other words, all conditions have been created for investors. I am glad that investors of the Aghstafa agricultural estate have taken advantage of all these opportunities and invested heavily. I am told that funds worth nearly 80 million manats have been invested. And the invested funds are in full view. So I want to say again: this is my third visit here and the history of this agricultural park has evolved before my eyes.

The agricultural estate will also provide tremendous support for the development of agriculture. I have asked – the yield is above average. The average yield in grain production in the country is 32 quintals and you have 40-50 quintals. This is also very important because our sown area is somewhat limited. Therefore, it is necessary to pay special attention to increasing yields.

The state treats entrepreneurs with care and support. The state provided financial support for the creation of this agricultural estate, but investors have invested much more. However, by providing support, the state also provides political support. From now on, the development of entrepreneurship will become the main condition for the development of the country because the key infrastructure projects implemented by the state are close to completion. Therefore, improving the business environment, developing entrepreneurship and creating jobs – all these are integral parts of our state policy. Investors, for their part, set an example for other entrepreneurs by creating such wonderful enterprises, as if saying to them – invest. First of all, Azerbaijani investors should invest in Azerbaijan to make things better here. Our population is increasing. In the future, we must provide jobs for the population, which increases by 100,000 people annually. Therefore, economic development and investments should be ahead of demographic development. This is the main goal. Of course, those who have jobs should receive high salaries and their working conditions must be good. I have already said that there is an 8-hour working day and no-one should work more than that. At the same time, all employees must receive a formal salary. Shadow economy should not be allowed. Unofficial employment must not be allowed. There are no and can’t be such facts at enterprises such as yours because you have an international approach, and I want all Azerbaijani enterprises to work on the basis of such principles.

I have already spoken about this several times, but I want to tell employees again. Especially if we consider that the healthcare system in this region will be moving to compulsory health insurance in April, people should work officially to receive free medical services. Therefore, one of the methods to combat unofficial employment will be compulsory health insurance. Of course, if someone works unofficially, they will lose their pension in the future.

In other words, the creation and development of such wonderful enterprises makes me very happy. In particular, I see a consistent policy on the example of this agricultural estate. Because sometimes an enterprise is built – an I even participated in the opening of some of them – but after a while it is shuts down. It means that the work process wasn’t built correctly. Your enterprise is not only operational. In the eight years I have been coming here, I see development and renewal. I see that people are looked after well here. These conditions have been created with great taste. There is a market and a café. Everything is done for the people, so that the people of Azerbaijan live better and more comfortably. The Azerbaijani state has sufficient will and ability to ensure this, and the work done in Aghstafa district is a clear confirmation of this.

I congratulate you once again and wish you continued success. I enquired and was informed that the third stage is the last one. But you have other plans too, and I hope that during the next meeting here you will report on new projects. Thank you!