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Hybrid Economy of Azerbaijan: How to Separate Oil from Non-oil?
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2017 November 09 ( Thursday )  13:17:52
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Turan IA

Parliamentary committees approved the draft state budget of Azerbaijan for 2018 and recommended the document for discussion at the plenary session of the Milli Majlis.

The Minister of Finance of Azerbaijan Samir Sharifov said that according to the draft, the state budget revenues for the next year are projected at 20 billion 127 million manat (an increase of 20% compared with the forecast for 2017), and the expenditures - at 20 billion 905.7 million manat, +16.5%).

According to him, in the income structure transfers from the State Oil Fund to the state budget for 2018 are planned at a rate of 9 billion 216 million manat (in 2017 - 6.1 billion manat) or 45.8% of all budget revenues.

The government is going to ensure the growth of budget revenues in 2018 mainly due to oil revenues: 3.116 billion manat due to the growth of transfers from the Oil Fund and 40 million manat due to growth of tax payments by oil companies.

Analyzing the budget, the independent economist Rovshan Agayev said the government, using the data, artificially sought to reduce the role of the oil sector in the replenishment of the treasury. So, in 2016-2017, taxes on wages of oil workers to the budget averaged about 350 million manat. For some reason, this item was sent to the column "non-oil sector" (SOCAR, oil companies operating under PSA contracts, as well as their contractors and subcontractors).

Turan News Agency draws attention to the fact that the government, through "redistribution" operations, has also managed to reduce the oil sector"s share in GDP, instead of this, having increased its role in the non-oil sector of the national economy. For example, according to the results of 2016, the State Statistics Committee indicates that the number of workers in the oil sector is 34.2 thousand people, and the non-oil sector is 1 million 480.2 thousand. Meanwhile, the GDP in the non-oil sector was 39.40 billion manat (62.2%), and in the oil sector - 20.58 billion manat (37.8%). As Turan News Agency found out, the government achieved such results only on "paper", not on the real sector.

So, according to the results of 2016, there were 52,000 employees in the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), about 14,000 oilmen worked within the framework of 15 PSA contracts and in joint ventures, and almost 20,000 people worked in oil and gas service companies.

According to the State Statistics Committee (SSC) itself, at the beginning of 2017 there were 694 small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the extractive sector. Then, how does it happen that the SSC data are even lower than the number of SOCAR employees?

As Turan News Agency found out, when calculating the oil economy, the government took into account only extractive enterprises, drilling entities and oil refining. For example, the largest SOCAR construction companies, e.g. platforms, oil structures and submarine pipes, were allocated to the non-oil sector, that is, the construction sector. In the country, there are about 800 petrol stations and oil depots, which were referred to wholesale and retail trade (their annual turnover is almost 2 billion manat). SOCAR has its own communication system, which considerably increases the ICT of Azerbaijan. Besides, oil and gas flows through pipelines on paper also serve to increase the non-oil sector, e.g. the transport sector. You can imagine what volume of capital-intensive work has been performed within the framework of the Shah Deniz-2 project, and the overwhelming part of it is in the "non-oil sector" column.

Next year in Sumgait, SOCAR will put into operation a carbamide plant, that is, an enterprise for the production of fertilizers. The plant itself will be part of SOCAR, and the products will be in the non-oil sector.

The government, according to its statistics, recognizes that in the oil sector, 1 working person produces an average of 601.75 thousand manat, while in the non-oil sector the index is only 26.62 thousand manat (22.6 times less). In real life, the goods produced in the oil sector are much more than indicated in the documents.

In the end, while everything is so confused, it is not clear in which part of our economy the oil sector ends, and in which the non-oil sector begins... - 12