Our Analytics 24 october — 12:05

Reforms are entering new stage: New personnel needed (First comment)

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BY ELNUR MAMMADOV, ECONOMY SECTION

When President Ilham Aliyev first spoke about the need for large-scale reforms and declared this a government priority, for some reason it seemed to many that everything would be accomplished somehow at once, in a revolutionary way. And most of all, to be honest, they did not expect even the outcome of these reforms, but simple personnel changes. The logic was simple: officials, organically living in their seats, cannot and do not want reforms. And one cannot disagree with this. But the head of state thought a little differently, having decided to first bring the reforms to a certain level, and along the way to decide on this issue. And this moment seems to have arrived: new appointments are coming one after another.

Most of the old team left the president's cabinet

As expected, personnel changes began with the economic bloc, where reforms were expected. And they did not start from bottom to top, as usual, but rather, from top to bottom. The first to leave the team was the fairly aged Prime Minister Artur Rasizadeh. Novruz Mammadov, who took his place, simply could not keep up with the new requirements and gave the chair to Assistant to the President for Economic Affairs Ali Asadov: the new prime minister will lead the implementation of the reform program. The president instructed the more experienced Asadov to raise the economy to new heights.

But he also needs a new team: you can't especially raise the economy with the old-fashioned methods of managing the economy, and this is the main requirement of the president and society. Only a few days passed, and two deputy prime ministers left: Hajibala Abutalibov and Ali Hasanov, whereas former Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev has already been appointed to replace one of them. Asadov too has new assistants. But the personnel mechanism is thoroughly launched. Ilham Aliyev does not intend to stop halfway. The next step naturally affected the ministries.

Premiere of the new premier

And again, the first link in the economic block — the Ministry of Economy — was the first to experience this. The head of state combined it with the Ministry of Taxes, the State Property Committee and the Antimonopoly Committee. Please note: the Antimonopoly Committee, the existence of which everyone has somehow forgotten about, has become part of the Ministry of Economy, and this is quite natural. It used to be part of the ministry earlier. The State Property Committee, perhaps the most scandalous state structure in the country, will also occupy its usual niche in the structure of the ministry, from which it left at one time. But the Ministry of Taxes...

Here it is worth thinking deeper. Opinions have long been heard in society about the need to unify this fiscal structure with other financial departments. By the way, there are many such examples among the countries of near and far abroad. Therefore, a number of experts proposed combining the Ministry of Taxes and even the State Customs Service with... the Ministry of Finance. And it sounded quite logical: there is such world experience, and the field of activity of all three departments is similar, for they all are raising money for the state budget.

New carte blanche to Mikayil Jabbarov

However, Ilham Aliyev violated this tradition established in a number of countries. And why he did so, one thinks, will become clear if we recall whom he appointed as the head of the new super-ministry. Yes, Mikayil Jabbarov positively established himself in all the positions that he held before. Moreover, in 2004-2009 he already held the position of deputy minister of economic development of Azerbaijan, so the new place for him is not so new. Only now he returned here already with the tax service of the country, which he headed for the last two years. And during these two years he did what his predecessor could not achieve for many years. The fiscal reforms carried out in a short period of time have given such an effect that it is just right to put them in tax books. And now the new minister has to develop the economy and replenish the budget.

And President Ilham Aliyev set a clear task for him: from now on, the development of the Azerbaijani economy at the expense of the non-oil sector is our main priority. A lot of work has been done in recent years to achieve this goal. But 'all this must be done through the prism of business development.' The president emphasised that in developed countries, GDP is formed mainly due to small and medium-sized businesses. And Azerbaijan should also create conditions so that 'people with entrepreneurial vein can do business and not face pressure and interference from officials.'

Although the head of state was generally pleased with the results of the reforms, he noted the need to strengthen work, especially in the fight against the shadow economy. As for the reforms, including personnel ones, they are necessary. 'Personnel reforms are necessary, this is inevitable. We will not be able to achieve success in the 21st century with old thinking,' he emphasised. And even purely visual, the new ministers look much nicer. Young, athletic people are gradually crowding out the heavy, burdened by many years of state and personal problems officials with a well-established look that they could not and did not want to change. Not to mention their excellent command of foreign languages and modern management methods.

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