IEPF President spoke at online webinar on COVID-19's impact on employment and labour market in Eastern Partnership countries - PHOTOS | Eurasia Diary -

15 August, Saturday

IEPF President spoke at online webinar on COVID-19's impact on employment and labour market in Eastern Partnership countries - PHOTOS

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On June 30, the working group of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum held an online meeting on "The impact of COVID-19 on employment and the labour market in the Eastern Partnership countries." Participants from the Eastern Partnership countries discussed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the labour market and the effectiveness of government measures.
Speaking at the online webinar, Umud Mirzayev, President of the International Eurasia Press Fund, told about the areas affected by the coronavirus, programmes supporting small and medium-sized businesses, vulnerable groups, as well as employment in the country, the impact of the pandemic on the labour market. presents the speech of the IEPF President.
Dear webinar participants, colleagues and friends,
The Coronavirus pandemic is one of the worst human tragedies that arose suddenly and almost paralysed activities of all economic structures in all countries, including Azerbaijan. According to the latest data, today, in Azerbaijan, amongst 10 million people there are 16,968 cases of infection and 206 deaths.
Before the Covid 19 reached in Azerbaijan, the economy of the country was one of the most successfully developing. It had a foreign exchange reserve of 6.3 billion AZN and in the oil fund there were about 40 billion AZN. Tourism and social services were successfully developing industries, as a result of which last year alone, more than 3 million tourists had visited our country.
With the onset of the pandemic, many enterprises switched to online work or were forced to completely suspend their activities.
It’s not a secret for anyone that the country's economy is largely dependent on oil exports. Of course, the fluctuation in oil prices has become the main threat to the economy of Azerbaijan, which almost coincided with the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. For half a year, GDP production decreased by 1.7% compared to the same period in 2019.
However, having the necessary economic and financial opportunities, Azerbaijan was able to prevent many negative consequences.
On the 16th of March, the President of Azerbaijan signed a decree approving an action plan to provide social support to the population and preserve jobs. The plan contained 4 directions: 1) support for people working in state institutions in order to maximize job security, prevent cuts and save wages 2) support the private sector – remuneration of damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic and prevent cuts 3) support officially unemployed people who are without income. It is about payment of AZN 190 to all officially unemployed citizens 4) support for vulnerable segments of the population, people with disabilities, low-income families - providing social benefits during the coronavirus, as has happened before.
It was also important to maintain the stability of the rate of the Azerbaijani manat in order to prevent an increase in prices for exported and imported products.
By a presidential decree of March 19, 2020, the Coronavirus Support Fund was established and financial support was provided for measures to combat the pandemic, including support for the labour market.
A law was passed on tax exemptions and the provision of social support to a number of entrepreneurs.
Tax incentives were granted to all micro-entrepreneurs, regardless of whether they were affected by the coronavirus pandemic, both in Baku and in the regions. Microloans were presented to a number of business structures at low interest rates, in order to ensure their activities.
Officially registered employees who personally pay monthly taxes have been refunded a portion of taxes over the past few months.
I want to note the great work of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection. Today, the ministry provides various types of social support to 48 percent of the population. However, we still observe some criticism towards the ministry as people expect a lot from this structure. 
During the pandemic, thanks to the reforms, many enterprises that previously used the services of personnel without formal contracts were compelled to officially register their employees. Support was directed to the development of the agricultural industry in the regions to stimulate the development of the domestic market.
But at the same time, of course, some companies experienced reductions, small and medium-sized businesses suffered serious losses, and there is a lack of resources. Today, the recruitment of new employees is practically not happening.
As a representative of civil society, I can say that many NGOs also suffered certain losses, during the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the ongoing projects have been suspended, or transferred to the online format, but this does not allow to achieve the previously planned effect.
The post-pandemic period will be quite difficult both for the economy of Azerbaijan and for the whole world. I would like to draw your attention to the post-pandemic programme proposed by our good friend, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, which he recently sent to us with a request to distribute it. In the concept, he presented a programme for the reconstruction of the current economy, offering to give the central role to a new form of business - social business, which was created exclusively to solve people's problems. In my opinion, this is a very important point that should be taken into account by all countries, including Azerbaijan. The bottom line is that the coronavirus crisis offers us almost limitless opportunities to start all over again.




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