Weekly Bulletin: Issue 74
2-8 January 2023
Economy and Social Policy
On 5 January, president Aliyev signed a decree instructing the government to elevate the minimum monthly wage in Azerbaijan from 300 AZN to 345 AZN (202 USD). Additionally, the minimum amount of labor pensions rose from 240 AZN to 280 AZN (164 USD). 700 thusand people will receive an increased minimum wage, while 100 thousand people will receive an increased minimum labor pension. Officials and the state media referred to the presidential decree as “another milestone in social reforms” in the country, but economists raised questions.
Economy scholar and politician Gubad Ibadoghlu noted that the European Social Charter requires signatory countries – including Azerbaijan – to set the minimum wage higher than 60 percent of the average wage. Therefore, based on European standards, the minimum wage in Azerbaijan should be 500 AZN.
According to economy analyst Farid Mehralizada, the changes will have ramifications on the labor pension receivers due to the peculiarities of the country’s pension system. According to Azerbaijani legislation, reaching the age of 65 does not solely satisfy the eligibility requirement for labor pensions, but it must be accompanied by either 25 years of working history or an accumulated minimum pension capital. The minimum pension capital is measured by the minimum amount of pensions (now increased from 240 to 280 AZN) multiplied by 12 years. Thus, the total amount required for minimum pension capital rose from 34.5 thousand AZN to 40.3 thousand AZN. The analyst believes that the current pension system requires fundamental reforms because its unattractiveness pushes many people to opt for working in the informal market to avoid paying taxes that would not return to them.
Most commentators, including economist Natig Jafarli, pointed to the fact that the increase in the minimum wage does still not correspond to the growing inflation rate of staple food prices.
Politics and Human Rights
On 4 January, Azerbaijani citizen Imran Mammadli was detained in Afyonkarahisar city of Turkiye. Mammadli, a member of the Muslim Unity Movement in Azerbaijan, has been a vocal critic of the government on social media. Following the questioning of Mammadli on his critical Facebook posts, the Turkish police took the activist to his apartment and asked him to pack his belongings. Although Mammadli’s current whereabouts are unknown, he is expected to be deported to Azerbaijan. In May 2022, Mammadli was detained in Baku for 30 days for attending the court hearing of another religious activist. Later, he migrated to Turkiye to seek safety.
Over the past week, two known political prisoners complained about similar means of mistreatment of them in detention facilities. On 6 January, the lawyer of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev told the media that they filed a lawsuit in Khatai district court in Baku due to the fact that authorities have not allowed Hajiyev’s family to visit or call him. Prominent activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was arrested on 9 December and sentenced to 50 days of pre-trial detention over ungrounded charges of hooliganism.
On 5 January, leading opposition politician Tofig Yagublu declared a hunger strike in the detention facility in protest of the ban on him from meeting his family and receiving food supplies from them. Yagublu was detained on 23 December and sentenced to 30 days of administrative detention for participating in a protest with a demand for the release of Bakhtiyar Hajiyev.