"In general, our country developed successfully last year. Azerbaijan followed the path of development and stability. But the developments unfolding in the world are of concern to us, of course. There are new hotbeds of conflict and new zones of tension in the world. Existing problems are not being addressed. On the contrary, they are topped with new ones. We can say that there are certain tensions everywhere in the world – in Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, in our region, in post-Soviet republics. In some cases, it takes on more severe forms. However, Azerbaijan has been on the path of stability for many years," President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said in his opening speech at the conference dedicated to the results of first-year implementation of "The State Program on socio-economic development of the regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2019-2023" held on February 2020, ONA reports.
The Head of State noted the stability prevailing in our country is underpinned by the will of the Azerbaijani people. "Our policy is supported by the people. It is a policy that is measured by concrete deeds. Our policy is based on specific deeds, on real development, not words but actions, and each given word is reflected in life. Therefore, the confidence shown to us by the people is at a high level, and this is the main condition for stability and calm.
I believe that good results were achieved in the economic sphere last year. Today, Azerbaijan is on the path of economic development and serious reforms that are highly valued in society. These reforms are improving the standard of living for our people, accelerate economic development of our country and play a very important part in resolving the unpleasant problems of the country. Fundamental economic and political reforms are usually fraught with major problems. In other words, sometimes or rather in many cases, these reforms negatively affect people's way of life. In Azerbaijan, reforms are carried out in a consistent manner. It is a sound policy. We have simply entered a new phase of reform. Therefore, the reforms carried out both in the economic and political spheres serve the interests of our people and state. At the same time, very serious structural and personnel reforms have been carried out.
All this shows again that the main goal of our economy is to strengthen the state, ensure a better life for our people and create stability. We are achieving all these goals. This is once again confirmed by last year's economic and social achievements. Our economy grew by 2.2 percent. I think this is a good result. Oil prices are stable, but oil production in Azerbaijan has somewhat dropped. I believe that the 2.2-percent increase in the gross domestic product is a good result, especially when we consider that growth in the non-oil sector is 3.5 percent. Industrial production has increased by 1.5 percent. The reason for this is precisely oil production. However, the non-oil sector, which is our top priority, has grown by more than 14 percent. A special role, of course, was played by the launch of giant industrial enterprises commissioned last year, as well as the development of small and medium enterprises and the improving business environment. The improvement of the business environment is also acknowledged by the World Bank. According to the Doing Business report, Azerbaijan was ranked among top 20 most reforming countries last year. Of course, all businesses are seeing and feeling this. Tax and customs administration and state support for businesses make themselves felt in the non-oil industry too, of course."