About dollar, pokemons, arabs , signs and concepts - ANALYSIS

About dollar, pokemons, arabs , signs and concepts - ANALYSIS
By Faraj Abbasov

The economy of Azerbaijan is going through a really tough time. Fall of oil prices and unpreparedness of the country to post-oil realities continue to reflect on the economic stability of Azerbaijan. Small and medium business is living through new, unknown till now state and tries to retune to new conditions of market. Majority of large enterprises have been weak competitive in market economy conditions   and in huge need of export activity.
There was a light belief in this about three years ago. But today most of these problems are obvious. Considering the tendencies of recent years, predicting and expecting becomes very difficult. We don’t know what will happen with world economy in the coming year as a whole, particularly with local economy. All we can do is only get the world economic trends, read and observe the local financial and political signs. Speaking about local signs which should be paid attention, it is necessary to mention the relevant phrase - floating rate of manat. Well, how to say floating if manat is a boat, Central Bank and other financial bodies are engine that will float  wherever regulators will point, not a market. 

In this perspective it is necessary to understand that with small steps or throws (if we are floating) we are approaching to figure 2 manat for 1 dollar. It seems impossible to retain the rate at current range without the loss of huge reserve currencies and economy as a whole. I would love to believe that we will be able to cope with it and increasing barrels of oil can help us. But the recommendation given to us by IMF, if possible to weaken manat with the goal to revive the economy cannot be ignored by financial bodies of the country.

A priori cheap manat is very good for export but there is another issue. There must be strong competitive brands of international or at least regional significance. But the ratio of exported Azerbaijani goods and quantity of people involved in production of these goods is very low. Unfortunately among all Azerbaijani brands in Europe is known only SOCAR and Azerbaijani profligacy (for export it is called generosity).  In food segment there are some glimmers of hope: juices, tea, fruits, vegetables and nuts. There is also textile, furniture and a bit chemical products- this is what we can sell to our partners in CIS and neighboring countries. But there is a trouble. They experience the lack of currency now. Considering the above mentioned it is necessary to understand that the number one task for authorities in the country is marketing and publicity of all more or less competitive products in the global scale and local manufacturing. It is necessary to promote and develop all production for the export. Without the support of state and MFA it will be impossible. But signs show that as a way to earn the currency and develop the non-oil sector we chose another path. 

Why Arabs and Iranians are not signs? Tourism is also is strong lever for earning liquidity in the country. Millions of tourists during a year may leave for economy of the country one billion dollars (for reference before revolution more than a million tourists visited Kiev) strange as it may seem, two thirds of tourists are men. In order to be the mecca of tourists Azerbaijan needs to have the followings:

a) Major infrastructure resources to accommodate, feed and entertain all tourists. 

b) Something specifically interesting which could differ us from other countries. We are not Amsterdam because for prostitution and marijuana people are jailed in our country. We are not Kiev because we have eastern values and Muslim mentality. We are not Monte Carlo or Tbilisi as gambling business is banned in our country. We are also not Antalia or Kemer because in price-quality-service relation we clearly  lose to them. We are not even Prague as we prefer to destroy old houses and set up on those sites parks. Unfortunately we are also not Dubai because in the most important moment of transformation from young pokemon into stronger one, we ran out of money. It is clear that given all above we are less attractive for European and American tourists in mass quantities. As always, we are in the middle between East and West. For this reason we need a concept, idea and strong infrastructure along with service and reasonable price for developing of mass and all-year-round tourism. Instead of giving attention and necessary time to this segment, the authorities actively promotes the policy of penalty increasing, tightening taxes and charges. Apparently subconsciously knowing that population keeps all the extracted from reserves currency under the pillow, financial leadership and tax authorities decided to return thus half of savings to budget. Well, the reserves are indeed stored under the pillow, but not of population and not at home. I think, if desired with proper work of law enforcement bodies hundreds of millions in foreign currencies could be very quickly found  from certain people and returned to budget. Where there is will, there is way.

 Interesting signs we can see in the bank sector of the country: Under obscure justifications and not very clear goals banks are shut down though they were taxpayers (and sort of not small, once each of them existed 10-20 years.) After all those closed banks were employers (leaving several thousand people in one segment without job in these times of hardships I think does not seem logical. The most interesting is that the regulator could have changed the status of those organizations let’s say from bank to financial organization which does not require high share capital and transparent financial records. They even could have figured out certain interim legal status of organization, smaller than bank and bigger than financial organizations, anything could have been done to retain taxpayers, employers and volatility created by them. But sadly it did not happen which means the real motives are unknown to us.
What we know for sure that thought, idea, concept to date is much exported product, and idea multiplied by work and activity which can quickly become monetized product. Alteration inside the core of Krypton forced us to exit from comfort zone and raise head, raising our heads we saw endless horizon to world with its big opportunities.