Our Analytics 14 january — 13:01

Ilham Aliyev's new message (Three aspects of state policy)

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BY ECONOMY SECTION

The big interview of Ilham Aliyev to Azerbaijani TV channels is an interesting step of the President towards a wider dialogue between the authorities and the society. First of all so for the understanding of what exactly the government is doing, what it is paying attention to and what prospects for national development it puts at the forefront.

To begin with, let's emphasise such an important aspect: traditionally at the beginning of each year, in mid-January, Ilham Aliyev held a government meeting following the results of the last year, where the parameters for further actions were set.

In previous times, Ilham Aliyev sent messages at meetings with the participation of the Cabinet of Ministers

During such meetings, he used to deliver a reporting and orientation speech to the ministers and on certain pressing issues.

Now, a new format, worked out during the Karabakh war, has been transferred here: Ilham Aliyev, through the media, addresses directly the society and all participants of socio-economic processes.

There are three main points in his keynote speech:

Tight control over the apparatus of power

Considering that the New Year events in Kazakhstan started with a social starter -- a twofold increase in the cost of LNG engine fuel, it is obvious that Aliyev sees the need for finer regulation of the entire potential gamut of a possible surge -- from the grid of current consumer prices in retail to the behaviour of officials on the ground and in vertical of power.

The head of state once again emphasised, repeating his already traditional parting words to the newly appointed heads of districts and ministerial officials -- 'everyone is equal before the law, no one's previous merits will be taken into account.' The reaction to corruption and sabotage of job descriptions will be the most severe.

After the Karabakh war, Aliyev chose a new format -- TV addresses

Inclusion of reserves of new regions in the economic system of the country

The liberated economic regions are a reserve for future generations of Azerbaijanis. But, these are not areas of the 'remote north' for Azerbaijan, but the central part of the country, given the connection with the Nakhchivan autonomy. Therefore, this land requires accelerated inclusion in the economic life of the country.

In 2021, we were able to equip the basic electric power grid, and future projects in the country will focus on renewable energy (solar station Masdar 230 MW, wind ACWA Power 240 MW).

The Barda-Aghdam highway is being built, connecting Naftalan with Talish and Sugovushan. Naftalan has become an international medical and tourist centre, and as Aliyev pointed out, the surrounding areas will be developed within a single tourism cluster. A route has been laid from Fuzuli Airport to Shusha. Radial main routes are being created: Fuzuli-Hadrut, Fuzuli-Jabrayil, Horadiz-Aghbend, Zangilan-Gubadli-Lachin, creating a network of road communications in the region.

Fighting the food crisis

The most significant part of the President's interview is related to the beginning of the global food crisis.

According to the UN FAO (World Food Organisation), cereal prices rose by 27.2% year-on-year, the highest annual average since 2012, including the cost of corn and wheat increasing by 44.1% and 31.3% . Growth was due not only to increased demand, but also to supply-side restrictions, plus various market manipulations caused by general pandemic inflation: from fertilizers to supplies. Vegetable oils and sugar showed the highest growth. The cost sub-index of the former increased by 65.8% to 164.8 points, a record price level for the average annual indicator.

In such conditions, it is quite difficult for Azerbaijan to manoeuvre. The reserve of 200 thousand hectares of arable land in the returned areas does not provide full food security.

On the eve of strategic decisions

Ilham Aliyev announced an interesting initiative. It turns out that Baku, just like Tashkent, is working on the possibility of leasing arable land. True, the President did not specify with which country such negotiations are underway.

Recall that the Ministries of Agriculture of Uzbekistan and Russia discussed in October 2021 the lease of 35 thousand hectares of Russian land. In total, Uzbekistan plans to lease up to 1 million hectares. According to the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, 23 regions have expressed their preliminary interest in supporting the project (there are about 8-13 million hectares of land that can be introduced into agricultural circulation).

Considering that the project of organising the Agroexpress railway started precisely from Uzbekistan, and the second stage is expected with Azerbaijani railway workers, an agreement can also be reached on this aspect of Russian-Azerbaijani relations in view of the proximity of the global food crisis.

Thus, the President’s economic headquarters plans to use the pandemic period to bring the national economy into a phase of a new cyclical upsurge, with an emphasis on domestic development, support for import substitution, and the development of entrepreneurial initiatives.

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