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.14 september 2021, 14:05
The head of state addressed the video conference.
Remarks by the 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, tremendous 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 development has been carried out in both districts as part of the State Programs on the Socioeconomic Development of the Regions. One could say that key infrastructure projects have already been completed. Electricity supply in both districts has been completely renewed and there are no problems with electricity supply. Gasification was carried out rapidly. The level of gasification in Jalilabad district is more than 90 percent and in Shamkir district it is close to 100 percent. I think that this work deserves a special emphasis among our accomplishments across the regions in recent years. After all, one of our primary goals has been to provide our citizens with natural gas, and gasification in the country has reached 96-97 percent today. According to that parameter, Azerbaijan is one of the leading countries in the world.
Ceremonies to inaugurate 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. Enormous work has been done on irrigation. Many artesian wells have been drilled. In the meantime, a large reservoir was built in Shamkir district – the Shamkirchay reservoir. This ushered great new opportunity for land reclamation measures in both Shamkir and neighboring districts, and significantly expanded the scale of irrigated land.
We have done a lot in the area of social infrastructure. Around 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 evident. 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 instructed them to resolve the outstanding issues. Most of the work has been done and very good groundwork created. In your day-to-day activities, you should work in such a way that citizens are satisfied with your performance, and 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 now 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 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 among the people. 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 reveal 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 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 accountability. I have said this many times, but I want to repeat 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 fate. I even said in one of my speeches that if you do not want to work decently, then do not take up this job; do not agree to 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 your performance. 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.
On my initiative, about a hundred thousand minimum wage public jobs were created for the most vulnerable categories of the population, to reduce unemployment, especially taking into account the global recession, the socioeconomic crisis and the pandemic. But they even laid their eyes on those funds and pocketed that money by retaining their salary cards in their offices. Can you imagine the level of indecency? There are infamous 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 also available. Everyone has seen them. Those who embezzled this assistance and sold it with interest in the market deserve disdain. How can one ever be so callous and dishonest? These people have disgraced themselves and put a stain on 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 performance of civil servants. They must work in such a way that they are always with the people. That is one of my primary 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 in the hallways, 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 carry on in a targeted manner, following strict regulations. Also, the detained heads of executive authority – I am referring to not only 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. That has caused significant 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 development 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 entrepreneurs abandon the idea and there are no jobs and no new enterprises. There are such cases. That must be stopped. Entrepreneurs must rest assured that they should only pay their taxes, and that is all. It should be specifically noted that both Jalilabad and Shamkir districts have great potential, fertile lands, human resources and skilled 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 excellent roads, has laid gas, power and water lines, has installed irrigation systems, created reservoirs, built hospitals, schools, and sports facilities. The rest is up to local authorities. 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 growth and development. In that case, your performance will be evaluated positively. You should always be mindful of the fate of your predecessors.
I hope you will follow my instructions. At the same time, residents and active community members of Jalilabad and Shamkir districts should always evaluate 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 community activists can join be part of your development agenda. At the same time, the work of officials represented in government agencies should be transparent and public oversight should confirm that. We have sufficient sources of information, and if something goes wrong, 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 significant 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. 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.