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Azerbaijan: Scapegoating Adam Smith

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev inspects a cotton field in Sabirabad district on September 17. With energy prices expected to languish, Aliyev’s administration is hoping that expanded revenue from cotton cultivation can raise employment levels while plugging budgetary gaps. (Photo: Azerbaijani Presidential Press Service)

Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, has finally acknowledged that the energy-export-dependent country is in the grips of a severe recession. But in a major policy speech, the Azerbaijani leader shifted blame for the fiscal woes from his administration to an economic theoretician who has been dead for over 225 years.
 
In a sign that confidence in Azerbaijan’s economy is rapidly evaporating, commercial banks felt compelled in late August to halt sales of foreign currencies. Speaking in the provincial city of Sabirabad on September 17, Aliyev trod gingerly around the issue of the government’s finances, not offering specifics. But he nevertheless provided a big hint that the decline in global energy prices had delivered a big hit on the state budget, which for more than a decade has been dependent on oil and natural gas export revenue.
 
“As everyone knows, in connection with the fall in the price of oil in the world, our revenues have contracted,” he said. “If the [oil] price has fallen by 75 percent, then our revenues contract by 75 percent.”

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Azerbaijan: Scapegoating Adam Smith

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