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WB intends to continue financing infrastructure projects

07 July 2017 [17:21] - TODAY.AZ

By Azernews


By Sara Israfilbayova

The World Bank (WB) intends to continue financing infrastructure projects in Azerbaijan in case of requests from the government.

WB Country Manager for Azerbaijan Naveed Hassan Naqvi announced about this at a press conference in Baku on July 7.

"Currently, we are working according to the five-year business plan until 2020, and about $350-500 million are allocated per year,” he said adding that the volume of financing for 2018 depends on the requests of the Azerbaijani government.

Naqvi went on to say that that the WB is working with the government of Azerbaijan on a program of technical assistance to restore economic growth in the country.

He said that the work is being done to find new opportunities and sources of income for the restoration of economic growth in Azerbaijan.

"We are also working with individual structures to develop various technical support programs. The recommendations we give in this direction are in line with the Strategic Road Maps adopted in Azerbaijan,” he said.

 “Last year, the economic recession was about 4 percent, this year we expect a decline of 1-1.5 percent,” Naqvi added.

WB’s Lead Health Specialist Patricio Marquez, in turn, offered the government to increase the tax on tobacco products.

"An increase in the tobacco tax leads to an increase in the revenues of the state budget and to a reduction in the number of smokers. As an example may be cited the U.S., Russia, the EU, Ukraine and the Philippines," Marquez said at the briefing, Trend reported.

The WB expert noted that the tobacco tax in Azerbaijan is very low and accordingly prices are low either.

"Regulation of rates of tax on tobacco products also affects the pricing mechanism. This, accordingly, leads to a rise in the price of products. But in the case of cigarettes, this has a positive effect in terms of health. Thus, in developed countries, population spends from 6 to 10 percent of the medicine expenses on diseases associated with or caused by smoking. In addition, smoking is the cause of high mortality in the age when the person is economically active, which leads to certain economic losses,” added Marquez.

About 47 percent of the population of Azerbaijan smokes, according to calculations. In the average they smoke 15 cigarettes a day.

Naveed Hassan Naqvi noted that this issue has attracted serious interest of both the ministries and representatives of civil society.

"We have received a positive response to our proposals, which can affect both tax structures and health systems. The tax increase on tobacco products is an initiative that will improve the health of the population, but will also increase government revenues that it can later use to create a better healthcare system," Naqvi said.

He stressed that this will contribute to a reduction in the number of smokers and to the growth of budget revenues.

Azerbaijan joined the World Bank Group in 1992.  Since then, commitments to the country totaled over $3.78 billion for 50 projects.

Founded in 1944, the WB has 189 member countries, staff from more 170 countries, and offices in over 130 locations.

Today the Bank Group’s work touches nearly every sector that is important to fighting poverty, supporting economic growth, and ensuring sustainable gains in the quality of people’s lives in developing countries.

URL: http://www.today.az/news/business/162968.html

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