Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijan has infrastructure and real economy investment strategy
A session on 'Advancing the Belt and Road Initiative: China`s Trillion Dollar Vision' was held in Davos yesterday as part of the World Economic Forum.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva attended the session. Speaking at the session, Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan has the infrastructure and real economy investment strategy, not just a strategy to invest other countries.
"For many years, our strategy was to spend less than we earn," he noted. "Preferably much less. That’s why we have not accumulated big debts. As far as internal debt is concerned, it is very low," the head of state stressed.
Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan's external debt is only 19% of gross domestic product, indicating that the republic has a strategy to reduce it to 10%. "All infrastructure projects implemented in Azerbaijan, the projects connecting the countries with each other, were implemented without borrowing," Trend cited him as saying. Twenty years ago, when Azerbaijan was poor and not very developed, "we were forced to borrow," the president noted. "We are grateful to those financial institutions that lent us money," he said. The head of state stressed that now Azerbaijan lends money.
Now Azerbaijan has a strategy of not only investing in other countries, but also in infrastructure and the real economy, Ilham Aliyev pointed out. " Nevertheless, we also lend money for infrastructure projects in other countries," he said. "Our debt has no relation to infrastructure," the head of state said. "Nonetheless, when we invested in infrastructure, we did not expect an immediate return," he stressed. "We understood that the return will not be direct," Ilham Aliyev explained. "You will not earn money for constructing a road. However, you will earn money from taxes to be paid by those, who will use this road to bring their goods to the market," the President of Azerbaijan pointed out. "Or from money to be paid by those who use our territory as transit from East to West and backward," he said. "And this is the income from the investments," Ilham Aliyev noted. "I believe that money we spent on infrastructure domestically and with respect to regional cooperation maybe return in a decade," the President of Azerbaijan said.
In addition, Ilham Aliyev stressed that, in general, the creation of modern infrastructure is one of the Azerbaijani government's key goals. "I believe that, taking advantage of our geographical location, we did the right thing investing mainly in infrastructure - with respect to internal infrastructure and infrastructure, which will allow Azerbaijan to become one of the international transportation hubs. We invest largely in infrastructure inside the country with respect to road construction, highways, airports, gasification and power generation. We also largely invested in transportation infrastructure, which allows us to transport cargos from East to West, West to East, as well as from North to South and South to North," he drew attention.
The president recalled that Azerbaijan is an active member of the East-West transportation corridor initiative and definitely supports the 'One Belt, One Road' Initiative of the Chinese government. "Azerbaijan provides facilities for countries which are situated to the north and south of Azerbaijan to join this project. We are already observing it. Azerbaijan is the only country that is a member of both East-West and North-South transportation corridors. Modernizing our railroad systems, building one of the biggest seaports on the Caspian coast, which is capable of transporting up to 25 million tons of cargo, building the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad that connects us with Turkey and Europe by the missing part between Europe and Asia provide good opportunities for those who want to use our roads. We spend money to form a good tariff policy. The volume of cargo transportation is also growing. Last year, only the North-South transportation corridor transported ten times more cargo than the year before," the head of state said.
According to him, infrastructure was mainly financed from the state budget. "I think we managed to properly channel the revenues we got from the oil and gas sales to invest in infrastructure so that now we can be proud of it. According to the Davos World Economic Forum assessment, with respect to the quality of roads, Azerbaijan is the number 34 in the world. It was done thanks to the money we earned from oil and gas sales. Then, of course, it led to the creation of better business climate, because when you have modern infrastructure, electricity, gasification, good roads and highways, then it will be easier to invest for business. We did a lot on that track as well. According to the last Doing Business report of the World Bank, Azerbaijan ranks 25th globally, making the record improvement of 32 positions. We are among the ten most reformist countries in this program of the World Bank," Ilham Aliyev said.