Press Review 05/26/2016

The election of Ilham Aliyev the Man of the Year, criticism of the amnesty act, red tape in the courts, the state of the economy, and the spending of public funds are the themes of today's media.

The official newspaper Azerbaijan writes that The Business Year magazine announced Ilham Aliyev Person of the Year for 2015 for his contribution to the economic development of Azerbaijan, and modernization of a number of projects of international importance.

Azadlig subjects to serious criticism the amnesty adopted on the initiative of Mehriban Aliyeva, because it did not cover the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. This act of amnesty was issued due to the fact that the prisons did not have enough space, as 24,000 people are in prison. However, they are trying to present it as a manifestation of humanism.

Echo reports that Azerbaijani businessmen suffer large financial losses from protracted litigation. As the chairman of the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies Nariman Agayev said, judicial processes in Azerbaijan are extremely protracted. Business people are losing a lot of money for this reason. Exactly how much Azerbaijani businessmen lose annually from the litigation is impossible to say.

In turn, the head of the Center for Economic and Social Development Vugar Bayramov said the way out would be to simplify the judicial system and a partial transition to an electronic system of judicial appeals and proceedings. Similarly, the judicial system works in Western countries - it simplifies the process of trial, reduces the time and ensures the transparency of the processing of cases.

Novoye Vremya publishes an article entitled "The EBRD has also recognized problems in the economy of Azerbaijan." The article writes about the visit to Azerbaijan of EBRD President Suma Chakraborty. In meetings with members of the government he noted that without changes in the banking system it is impossible to accelerate economic growth. "Growth in the economy can take place, when the banks are able to allocate credits. Azerbaijan's economy is extremely dollarized, and all agree with that. Therefore, for the recovery of bank lending in manats the appropriate mechanism should be developed. It would be good to provide a bond issue in the national currency.

Azerbaijan has increased the volume of problem loans. The main task is the formation of loan repayment culture. This issue should find its solution, so that the banks did not take new hard steps. S. Chakraborty noted EBRD may issue bonds in manats.

The Oil Fund's assets are declining. Annual income from oil already cannot plug the budget holes. The Oil Fund's assets comprise approximately $ 32 billion, but Azerbaijan has $ 6.5 billion of public debt, and SOCAR owes about the same to foreign financial institutions.

If the money of the Oil Fund is spent to maintain an average standard of living, the Fund's assets will melt in 3-4 years.

The Azerbaijani government has chosen another way – to spend as little as possible of these assets in order to prolong their existence. But such a policy will cause a sharp deterioration in the population's welfare. The government sees loans from international financial institutions as a lifeline, and they have to be returned. That is, the Azerbaijani government has decided to take loans, instead of reforms, without thinking about future generations.

Bizim Yol writes that as a result of the Accounts Chamber audits in the construction sector "mismatch" in the amount of 400 million AZN was revealed. The report said the purpose of the funds often changed for no apparent reason. About 30 million AZN was spent inefficiently. The newspaper writes that almost all the state institutions have committed violations.

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