President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received in a video format Rafig Jalilov due to his appointment as head of Jalilabad District Executive Authority and Rashad Taghiyev due to his appointment as head of Shamkir District Executive Authority.
The head of state addressed the video conference.
Speech of President Ilham Aliyev
– You are being appointed to the positions of heads of executive authority of Jalilabad and Shamkir districts. Great confidence is being placed in you. I hope you will live up to this confidence.
In recent years, great work has been done for the socioeconomic development of Jalilabad and Shamkir districts. As part of public investment programs, major infrastructure projects have either already been implemented or are nearing completion. Large-scale landscaping work has been carried out in both districts as part of the State Programs on the Socioeconomic Development of the Regions. It is possible to say that the key infrastructure projects have already been completed. Electricity supply in both districts has been completely renewed and there are no problems with electricity supply. Gas supply work was carried out rapidly. The level of gas supply in Jalilabad district is more than 90 percent and in Shamkir district it is close to 100 percent. I think that this work deserves to hold a special place in the work we have done in the regions in recent years. After all, one of our main goals was to provide our citizens with natural gas, and the supply of natural gas in the country has reached 96-97 percent today. According to this indicator, Azerbaijan is one of the leading countries in the world.
Ceremonies to celebrate the completion of drinking water projects in Jalilabad and Shamkir cities were held with my participation. The provision of drinking water to the cities in 2013 and 2017 respectively was also a major event. At the same time, this problem has been resolved in many villages. Great work has been done on irrigation. Many artesian wells have been drilled. At the same time, a large reservoir was built in Shamkir district – the Shamkirchay reservoir. This ushered great new opportunities for land reclamation measures in both Shamkir and neighboring districts, and significantly expanded the scale of irrigated land.
Great work has been done in the area of social infrastructure. About 120 schools have been built or renovated in both districts. Two large hospitals have been built – for 190 and 145 patients. In addition, a Medical Diagnostic Center has been built in Jalilabad. Two large Olympic Sports Complexes have been commissioned. In other words, the implementation of social and infrastructure projects is obvious. Of course, this creates groundwork for the successful development of the districts. If these initial steps had not been taken, there would be no development of the districts. All this work has been done at the expense of the state budget and on my instructions, within the framework of the State Programs on the Socioeconomic Development of the Regions, which was approved by me.
When appointing heads of executive authority of Jalilabad and Shamkir districts, I ordered them to resolve the remaining issues. The primary great work has been done and very good groundwork has been created. In your day-to-day activities, you should work in such a way that citizens are pleased with you, the development of the districts is accelerated. You should take the initiative to attract investors and create conditions for entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, however, we see the exact opposite in real life. As a result of that and also because of the serious shortcomings, violations, bribery and corruption, the former heads of executive authority of both Jalilabad and Shamkir districts are being prosecuted. Everyone can see that no-one can stand above the law, that everyone is equal before the law. No-one has immunity, this is out of the question. I give these recommendations when appointing all government officials. However, those who worked in these positions before you were only concerned about their personal interest, were engaged in looting, bribery and corruption, were indifferent to people’s needs, were dealing only with their own problems and personal businesses, not the day-to-day problems of the districts. And this, of course, caused legitimate dissatisfaction of the population. After all these facts came to light, both heads of executive authority were fired, of course, and will now be held accountable. An investigation is under way. The investigation will show everything. However, preliminary data, including evidence and investigative materials, suggest that the prosecution of these people was fully justified.
Many high-ranking officials, heads of local and central executive bodies, as well as former heads, ministers and heads of executive authority have been prosecuted in recent years. Why? Because of the crimes they committed, because of their actions. Everyone should know that no-one can escape responsibility. I have said this many times, but I want to say it again, to say it to you and all other officials today – if government officials do not give up these ugly deeds in their work, they will face the same end. I even said in one of my speeches that if you do not want to work cleanly, then do not take up this job, do not agree to doing it. Otherwise, you will ruin your lives. If you agree to take up this responsibility, then, as I said, you must work within the law and live up to this high confidence. You have to work in such a way that the citizens are satisfied with you. However, many investigative materials show now that the heads of executive authority of several districts received money and bribes even from the most socially vulnerable categories of the population. In order to reduce the level of unemployment, especially taking into account the global recession, the socioeconomic crisis and the pandemic, about a hundred thousand paid public jobs were created for the most vulnerable categories of the population on my initiative, where their wages are equal to the minimum wage. But they thought that this was too much for these people and pocketed this money by keeping their payment cards in their offices. Can there be so much dishonesty? There are popular videos. They have also embezzled the humanitarian assistance sent by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation to the families in need of support and social protection. These videos are available. Everyone has seen them. Those who embezzled this assistance and sold it with interest in the market deserve contempt. How can one ever be so mean and dishonest? These people have disgraced themselves and tarnished our government. If anyone thinks that they can get away with this, they are wrong.
I think that everyone already understands that a civil servant should be an example. People’s livelihoods and comfort depends on the activities of civil servants. They must work in such a way that they are always with the people. This advice always has a special place in my recommendations. I am telling you too – you should mingle with the people, you should be in constant touch with them, you should live with their concerns and try to help them with whatever you can.
At the same time, let me repeat, the state, the central executive bodies have been doing a lot for the development of the districts. Most of the work has been completed. You should work on the ground so that the districts develop faster. Many of our districts no longer receive subsidies from the center. But 10 years ago, almost all our districts were receiving subsidies. Why? Because the money collected on the ground disappeared in the pockets of government officials. It did not go to the state treasury, to the state budget, but was pocketed by local officials. There were many people who kept coming here day and night. They were hanging around by the gates here, asking for some financial support – I mean heads of executive authority. However, as a result of the reforms, many districts are no longer receiving any subsidies. We must ensure that, in general, the development of the districts is ensured at the expense of the funds collected on the ground, in all our districts.
Of course, we will take the necessary steps for the development of each district. The completion of major infrastructure projects does not mean that we will cut off this financial and material support. No, we will still provide it, but we will it in a focused manner and only if all the rules are taken into account. Also, the arrested heads of executive authority – I am talking not only about Jalilabad and Shamkir districts – had been flagrantly violating tender procedures. In other words, companies close to several heads of executive authority or their deputies usually won tenders for the implementation of state projects and public procurement. Why? Because here, too, cases of bribery and embezzlement were widespread. This causes great losses to the state budget. If it hadn’t been for the cases of corruption and bribery, our state budget would have significantly increased and our opportunities would have expanded. We are channeling the additional revenues of the ongoing reforms, first and foremost, into improving people’s living standards. We are still in the ninth month of the year, but as a result of transparency and reforms, there is a surplus in the state budget, and we are channeling it into the social protection of our people.
At the same time, you should try to attract investment to the districts – both local and foreign. Here, too, you should be proactive. Our country cannot develop as much as we want without private investment. The state alone cannot take on everything. All this construction and improvement work throughout the country has been done through public investment. So conditions must be created for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs should be given the opportunity to come and invest, to create jobs. In some cases, however, entrepreneurs interested in doing business face problems, come across some unreasonable demands, are asked for a share in the business. As a result, the entrepreneur leave and there are no jobs and no new enterprises. There are such cases. This must be stopped. Entrepreneurs must rest assured that they should only pay state tax, and this is all. It should be specifically noted that both Jalilabad and Shamkir districts have great potential, fertile lands, human resources and trained personnel. The population of both districts is quite large. There is huge potential for industry, agriculture, and tourism compared to other districts. This potential needs to be used effectively. Notice that the state has done everything, has built beautiful roads, has laid gas lines, power lines, water lines, has installed irrigation systems, has created reservoirs, has built hospitals, schools, sports facilities. The rest is up to local leaders. Therefore, this is one of my instructions to you. You must work in such a way, let me say this again, that people are satisfied with you, things in your district are going well, there is development, construction and landscaping. In that case, you will receive a positive assessment from me. Otherwise, you should always be mindful of the experience of those who worked before you.
I hope you will work the way I have told you. At the same time, residents and activists of Jalilabad and Shamkir districts should always analyze your performance. There should be rigorous public oversight. In order to reinforce public scrutiny, you need to take the initiative on the ground so that activists can join in your construction and landscaping work. At the same time, the work of officials represented in government agencies should be transparent and public oversight should confirm that. We already have sufficient sources of information, and if something does not go in the right direction, if someone goes astray, we will sooner or later find that out. Therefore, this must be taken into account.
I want to say again that you great confidence is being placed in you. I hope that you will live up to this confidence with your work.
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Rafig Jalilov: Mr. President, let me express my deep gratitude to you for the high confidence you have placed in me. I promise to rely on your support and justify your high confidence. Thank you very much.
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Rashad Taghiyev: In my turn, let me thank you for the high confidence you have placed in me. At the same time, I would like to note that I accept this as tremendous responsibility, as well as high confidence, and promise that I will do my best to ensure the economic, social and cultural development of the district. Thank you very much again for your high confidence.