President Ilham Aliyev has praised the cooperation between Azerbaijan and the Asian Development Bank, reminding that the bank has provided loans and securities worth $3 billion to the country, which have been used for infrastructure projects.
Aliyev made the remarks in a video conference with the President of the Asian Development Bank Masatsugu Asakawa, Vice President Shiksin Chen and other representatives of the bank’s leadership on June 1.
“These funds [$3bn] have helped us invest in infrastructure. We are very grateful to the Asian Development Bank for supporting numerous infrastructure projects related to electricity generation, railway construction, road construction, water and sanitation. Of course, we are very grateful to you for your commitment and support, financial support for the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor project. I can tell you that the Asian Development Bank was the first large international bank to lend to this project. Your important and timely support has helped us to create a very large group of creditors”, Aliyev said.
President Aliyev also noted that the Southern Gas Corridor is very close to completion with three projects being already completed and the fourth project – the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline – more than 95 per cent complete. This is really a very good sign of cooperation, the president stressed.
“We are currently working on new projects. According to the information provided to me, our portfolio includes some projects related to irrigation and education. All this is very important. I am confident that our cooperation will continue in the coming years. Your team here in Baku and at your headquarters knows our priorities, what are the priorities for our development. This is mainly related to the private sector, infrastructure development, and support for small and medium enterprises”, the president noted.
The president also spoke about the government’s efforts to protect the population from COVID-19.
“Thanks to the timely measures taken by Azerbaijan, we have suffered minimal losses. According to the World Health Organization, Azerbaijan is an example in the fight against the pandemic. We have also allocated large sums of money. We have allocated more than 2 billion euros to support the pandemic-affected sectors of the economy, as well as the unemployed, the unemployed, the poor and even those involved in informal employment”, Aliyev said.
President Aliyev highlighted the fact that Azerbaijan is fighting informal employment and has taken serious measures to this end.
This year alone, more than 100,000 contracts have been signed between employees and companies. “However, we understand that these people suffer from this problem. For this reason, our economic growth was very low for 4 months, however, it was 0.2 per cent”, Aliyev added.
“I know that many countries, unfortunately, are in a recession now. The results of five months are not yet known to us, maybe, will be known in a week. But I think we can cope with this situation. As you rightly point out, the sharp drop in oil prices is certainly a challenge for us. However, we have managed to adapt our steps and budget to the new realities, and we must take them into account, no matter what the realities are. We have not reduced any of the social projects – all of them remain in our budget. But those projects that can wait several years, of course, maybe postponed for a while”.
Furthermore, Aliyev said that Azerbaijan is not among the 150 countries that have applied to international financial institutions for financial support.
“We do our job well and our expenses have always been lower than our profits. I would say that protecting and increasing resources has been our main economic goal”, the president noted.
Aliyev also congratulated Asakawa on his appointment as President of the Asian Development Bank and expressed confidence that Azerbaijan and the Asian Development Bank will continue to work closely, as they have for the last 20 years.
“As you mentioned, we have built a very strong partnership. We all remember that the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank was held in Baku in 2015. It was really a very good sign of cooperation and the meeting was very successful. As you know, we are working on a number of important projects”, President Aliyev noted.
By Akbar Mammadov