The economic policy, introduced by the national leader Heydar Aliyev and successfully continued by president Ilham Aliyev, has lead to the growth of economy more than three times, creation of new production facilities and more than 2 million jobs, 1.4 millions of which are permanent. There has been no other country which has walked through the path of development as rapidly as Azerbaijan in terms of economic reforms from 2003 to 2017. Over 3100 schools, 642 medical facilities have been built or repaired in the country in the last 14 years. 12300 kilometers of roads have been constructed and 443 bridges built, 43 Olympic Sports Complexes have been launched and other social infrastructure created. As a result, the unemployment rate in Azerbaijan has dropped to the lowest – 5% in the world whereas this figure stood at a whopping 49% in 2003. While the poverty rates were over 40% in 2004, it is now only 5.4%. Salaries and pensions have been increased 5 and 8 times in the last 14 years, respectively. Significant measures have been carried out to create favorable conditions for the development of business and more than 2 billion manats worth of credit loans have been lent to entrepreneurs. Our available currency resources are equal to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Foreign debt is less than 20% of the GDP. In short, the state programs on the socio-economic development of the regions, implemented by president Ilham Aliyev, have completely changed the image of our country and has achieved the development of the non-oil sector year by year. All of these facts were pointed out once against at the conference dedicated to the 4th anniversary of the State Program on the socio-economic development of regions. It was stated that Azerbaijan has been through the path of huge and honorable development from 2004 to 2017 and serious achievements have been made in all areas. All the objectives relating to the execution of the state programs on socio-economic development of regions have been implemented. In president’s words, the program founded in 2004 has changed Azerbaijan’s regions and ensured their rapid development. The political and economic reforms carried out in the country have been highly valued by the international community as well. Azerbaijan has ranked high in many reputable international ratings. For example, Azerbaijan was named the "leading reformer country in the world” in the 2009 World bank report entitled "Doing Business”.
The World Economic Forum released another report on our country on January 22. To elaborate, Azerbaijan placed 3rd among developing countries in the category of "inclusive development index – 2018” in the annual report. Created as an alternative to the Gross Domestic Product, "Inclusive Development Index” reflects more accurately the criteria for citizens evaluating economic development in their countries. Azerbaijan collected 4.69 of available 7 points in this category. According to the report, Lithuania, Hungary and Azerbaijan lead the developing nations in this category while Norway, Iceland and Luxembourg dominate the category among developed countries.
Of course, the main objective of the reforms implemented in the country is to accelerate the development in Azerbaijan, make it sustainable and long-term. As for executing the program on regional development, referring to concrete facts, we can say that 30 power plants (with the capacity of 2500 megawatt) were constructed in Azerbaijan and its general capacity had been increased to 6400 megawatts. The process of gasification have reached 93% from 51% in 2004. 4 water reservoirs have been built in the recent years and land reclamation measures have significantly advanced agricultural development. In other words, a new era has begun in the regional development. Azerbaijani economy and the non-oil sector have grown 3.2 and 2.8 times in the last 14 years, respectively. Industry, agriculture, non-oil export have grown 2.6, 1.7, 4.1 times, respectively. The currency reserves of Azerbaijan has gone up from 1.8 billion dollars in 2004 to 42 billion dollars in 2018.
Azerbaijan is leading globally on the category of currency reserves per capita. It should be stressed that huge currency reserves of Azerbaijan gives way to economic freedom in the country. Azerbaijan pursues independent policies and has its own unique perspective on all things and expresses them without fear. 231 billion dollars have been invested to the Azerbaijani economy in 14 years. Half of it is foreign investment and the other half is domestic. Azerbaijan is among the leading countries globally according to volume of investment per capita. The foreign investments indicate that there is support and confidence for policies conducted in Azerbaijan and there is a great hope the future of the country. More than 14.6 billion dollars have been invested in Azerbaijan in 2017 alone.
Lastly, we should mention that energy projects such as Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan, Baku-Erzurum-Kars, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, North-South transportation corridor will support the sustainable and long-term development of Azerbaijan. The strategic purpose of policies implemented in Azerbaijan is to further strengthen the country, improve the social welfare of citizens and make the independence even stronger.