During parliamentary discussions of Azerbaijan’s 2018 state budget, most MPs agreed that too little had been earmarked for the Milli Majlis (parliament). According to Firudin Hajiyev, head of the Milli Majlis’ general affairs department, the current budget proposal allocates just over 24 million AZN ($14 million) to the legislature for salaries, service contracts, and other expenses.
Hajiyev said that 69% of the proposed budget would go towards salaries. Of the remaining funds, Hajiyev recommended that parliament earmark 200 thousand AZN ($118,000) for foreign business travel, 50 thousand AZN ($29,000) for printing services, and 1.2 million AZN ($700,000) “to improve the vehicle fleet of the Milli Majlis.
MP Gudrat Hasanguliyev said that the funds earmarked for the Presidential Administration were four times greater than those earmarked for the Milli Majlis, even though parliament has 125 members and they often represent Azerbaijan in foreign countries. “The Milli Majlis is an independent branch of government,” said Hasanguliyev. “Now, I want to know why are those amounts different? Do they make more business trips or what? A difference that big is very surprising.”
“Drivers working for the Cabinet of Ministers and the Presidential Administration are paid more than drivers working for the Milli Majlis,” MP Zahid Oruj added. “I request that our drivers be taken into account as well and that the difference is eliminated.”
Siyavush Novruzov, deputy executive secretary of the New Azerbaijan Party, agreed that more funds should be earmarked for business trips, and added that funds were need to support “friendship groups” that Azerbaijani MPs have formed with foreigners.
“The Milli Majlis has friendship groups with many countries, and they perform very well,” Novruzov said. “The main thing is that they travel and establish connections. It would be good if certain amounts of funds were earmarked for this. In addition, events also need to be held to inform the world about Azerbaijan. Sometimes [Azerbaijani] business people provide support in Turkey or Russia. However, there are countries in Europe where there are not even three Azerbaijani business people. It would be good if attention were paid to this matter..”
Finance Minister Samir Sharifov also said that the MPs’ suggestions would be delivered to the government: “The suggestions will be submitted and evaluated by the deadline set.”
Discussion of other items included in the budget package continues.