"The socioeconomic indicators for the first nine months of the year are positive. Economic growth has been secured. It is gratifying that economic growth in the non-oil sector exceeds 3 percent. This suggests that diversification measures are bearing fruit. Of course, we would like this growth to be higher. I believe that there are enough opportunities and potential to achieve this. We simply need to use this potential with maximum efficiency, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said at a meeting on the economic area, APA reports.
President Ilham Aliyev said high performance in the non-oil industry has been achieved again. "Thus, our non-oil industry has increased by more than 15 percent. This indicates that the reforms carried out in recent years, especially the measures to develop the non-oil sector, are yielding results. I can say that our non-oil industry growth of more than 15 percent can be considered a record indicator on a global scale.
Along with this, as you know, major investments have been made in agriculture in recent years. Agricultural development has been identified as a priority area. At the same time, in previous years I was somewhat surprised that with such a volume of investments, such support and the provision of subsidies and low-interest loans, growth in agriculture was only at 2-3 percent. At the present time, serious advances are being observed in this sector as well. Thus, agriculture grew by more than 7 percent in nine months.
Other economic indicators are also very positive. Our external public debt is at a very low level – it accounts for only 17 percent of the gross domestic product. According to this indicator, we are in ninth place in the world. I should also note that some countries registering better results than ours are the countries that do not receive any external loans at all. Therefore, their high place does not reflect the objective picture. Thus, we are in a leading position in terms of the low level of the external debt on a global scale. I want to say again that I set this task for the government: we must reduce external public debt every year, and this is provided for in the budget for next year."
Mr Aliyev emphasized that he inflation rate is very low – a little more than 2 percent. "It should be noted that a very serious and large-scale social package was implemented this year – the financial situation of more than 4.2 million people was improved, pensions, salaries and benefits were increased. In other words, billions of manats were spent on these purposes, and these funds were socially oriented. Despite this, the inflation rate is very low. This is a very good indicator. Incomes of the population significantly exceed inflation again.
Azerbaijan today ranks first in the CIS in terms of the purchasing power of the minimum pension. In terms of the average monthly pension we are in third place. Of course, we should not be pleased with that, but I should mention this for the sake of comparison. Everything is relative. We have the determination to increase the minimum wage and the minimum pension in the future, and the opportunities must be consistent with this. In order to achieve this, full transparency must be ensured in the entire financial and economic sector. Currently, we have sufficient reserves, and the government has been tasked with identifying all these reserves so that budget revenues increase and budget expenditures are goal-oriented and transparent."