President Ilham Aliyev: Our growing economic power should first of all be aimed at improving well-being of people, and we are doing this

Our growing economic power should first of all be aimed at improving the well-being of the people, and we are doing this, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in his opening speech at the conference dedicated to the results of first year implementation of “The State Program on socio-economic development of the regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2019-2023”.

“Today, Azerbaijan is one of a handful of countries in the world pursuing an absolutely independent policy,” Ilham Aliyev said. “In order to pursue an independent policy, many factors are necessary – territory, potential, gross domestic product, military power, etc. We know what countries of the world are powerhouses. Of course, in terms of its size and geographical territory, Azerbaijan cannot compete with large countries and doesn’t have such intentions. But, despite this, we have enough opportunities to pursue an independent policy.”

“The main one is the support of the people, the support and trust our policy enjoys,” noted the Azerbaijani president. “Of course, economic indicators, our activities in the political arena enhance our strength and Azerbaijan becomes and will become stronger every year. Our exports have also increased, in particular, in the non-oil sector. Our foreign trade has increased. In a word, all issues related to the economy have been resolved.”

“At the same time, major initiatives were put forward in the social sphere last year,” Ilham Aliyev added. “More precisely, these programs were prepared in the second half of 2018 and began to be executed at the beginning of 2019. Large funds were provided for martyr families. In general, the social and material situation of 4.2 million people was improved because the huge social package reached out to 4.2 million people. The minimum wage has doubled and the minimum pension has grown by more than 70 percent. Currently, Azerbaijan ranks first in the CIS in terms of the purchasing power of the minimum pension.”

“Some benefits were increased by 50 percent, some were doubled, scholarships were raised, one-off financial assistance was provided to the families of martyrs,” said the Azerbaijani president. “In addition, monthly benefits for families of martyrs and internally displaced persons were increased. So all these are issues requiring major funds and cost several billion manats. But we are doing that. First of all, because our policy is centered on the citizens of Azerbaijan. And secondly, we have opportunities to do this. If there was a desire but no opportunities, how could we have done this? By mobilizing our economic strength, we have secured today’s reality, and this is why we can do it.”

“I can say that there is no other country in our immediate surroundings that would take up such a social initiative,” Ilham Aliyev noted. “If there is, do let me know. There isn’t! We are doing this and believe that it is right. The people of Azerbaijan should live better every year. Our growing economic power should first of all be aimed at improving the well-being of the people, and we are doing this. Therefore, the work done in the social sphere once again reflects our policy, demonstrates our strength, and this sphere will continue to be in the spotlight.”

“At the same time, important steps were taken last year to create social infrastructure – 84 schools and 60 medical facilities were built and renovated,” said the Azerbaijani president. “This process is also ongoing. We have completed the repairs of most of the schools. But there are still schools in disrepair, and specific steps will be taken to repair them in the coming years.”