Land borders, drug dealers, parking prices...

As tensions simmer over the closure of land borders and the impending hike in parking prices in Azerbaijan, conflicting perspectives have emerged, raising questions about government policies and their impact on citizens. Milli Majlis deputy Siyavush Novruzov's assertion linking efforts to open land borders with drug trafficking has sparked controversy, while economist Natig Jafarli offers a dissenting view on these contentious issues.

Novruzov's claim that advocates for open land borders may have ties to drug trafficking has drawn skepticism from Jafarli, who dismisses it as unsubstantiated and frivolous. Jafarli emphasizes that Azerbaijan's law enforcement agencies uphold rigorous procedures at all border crossings, negating any correlation between border openness and drug trafficking. He contends that closed land borders not only discriminate against certain regions but also stifle economic activity and cross-border trade, contributing to widespread dissatisfaction among citizens.

Indeed, Jafarli's assessment resonates with public sentiment, as evidenced by widespread discontent over the closure of land borders. A staggering 90% of residents express dissatisfaction with this policy, highlighting its detrimental effects on livelihoods and economic prospects. Furthermore, Jafarli challenges the official rationale of border closure for security reasons, arguing that it signifies state weakness rather than strength, especially when neighboring countries like Georgia and Armenia maintain open borders without compromising security.

Turning to the issue of parking price hikes, Jafarli acknowledges the rationale behind efforts to reduce congestion in the capital's center but criticizes the lack of accompanying measures to mitigate the burden on citizens. The sudden increase in parking fees at state-owned lots, funded by taxpayers' money, without providing viable alternatives, exacerbates public frustration and resentment towards authorities.

Jafarli's critique underscores the need for a more holistic approach to urban management, balancing urban planning objectives with considerations for public welfare. While initiatives to decongest city centers are commendable, they must be accompanied by transparent communication, affordability measures, and alternative transportation options to alleviate the burden on citizens.

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