By Ayya Lmahamad
Azerbaijan continues to take steps to improve its people's social well-being.
In recent years, consistent and timely efforts have been made to improve social protection and social payments for vulnerable populations, as well as the organization of transparent, effective, and accessible social services from a single center, among other areas of activity.
Social payments have been significantly increased as a result of revolutionary reforms in the social sphere.
Social support programs were also put in place to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment and welfare.
Pensions for martyrs' families and disabled war veterans were increased by an average of 60 percent following the 44-day second Karabakh war. New types of pensions were also established.
Pensions have increased by 11.4 percent since the beginning of 2021, owing to a significant increase in wages, and these increases have covered 1.1 million pensioners. During the period 2018-21, annual social welfare spending increased by AZN 2.4 billion ($1.4 billion), or 60 percent, to AZN 6.4 billion ($3.7 billion).
During that period, average monthly wages increased by 37 percent, and the number of employment contracts increased by 30 percent, or approximately 400,000.
Pension growth continued in 2021, with the insurance component of pensions increasing by 11.4 percent since the beginning of the year.
Last year, the average monthly pension increased by 9 percent to AZN 331 ($194.7), while the average monthly old-age pension increased by 8 percent to AZN 358 ($210.5). In general, the average monthly amount of pensions has increased by 60 percent over the last three years.
The decree issued by President Ilham Aliyev on October 16, 2021 'on additional measures to protect the social well-being of the population' allowed social reforms to continue successfully.
The minimum wage has been raised by 20 percent under the new reform package, from AZN 250 (147) to 300 ($176.4). Minimum wages have risen 2.3 times in the last three years in this context.
Teachers' and many other organizations' salaries have also been increased by 20-40 percent.
Allowances for disabled
Pensions for martyrs' families and disabled war veterans were increased by an average of 60% following the 44-day second Karabakh war. As well, new types of pensions were established.
Allowances for disabled people increased from AZN 150 ($88.2) to 220 ($129.4), from AZN 130 ($76.4) to 180 ($105.8), and from AZN 110 ($64.7) to 120 ($70.5).
Disabled children's allowances increased from AZN 150 ($88.2) to 200 ($117.6), and their pensions increased from AZN 50 ($29.4) to 80 ($47). Over the last three years, their monthly social payment has increased 3.4 times.
In 2019, the seniority pension for the disabled of the first group was increased from AZN 50 ($29.4) to AZN 80 ($47).
Social support allowances
Similarly, the old-age allowance has been increased 2.5 times in three years, from AZN 130 ($76.4) to 180 ($105.8), and now exceeds the subsistence minimum for pensioners [AZN 176($103.5)].
The allowance for the loss of the family's head increased by 47 percent over the last three years, from AZN 80 ($47) to 100 ($58.8).
The allowance for each conscript's child increased from AZN 100 ($58.8) to 120 ($70.5), as did the allowance for guardians of children from AZN 100 ($58.8) to 120 ($70.5).
Allowances for women with more than five children increased from AZN 55 ($32.3) to AZN 70 ($41.1). Furthermore, the monthly allowance for children under one year old from low-income families has been increased from AZN 55 ($32.3) to 70 ($41.1), a 55.6 percent increase over the last three years.
The adoption allowance was established in early 2021 and increased by 25 percent in early 2022, up to AZN 200 ($117.6) per child and from AZ 480 ($282.3) to 600 ($352.9) per adopted child with disabilities.
In the last three years, the one-time allowance for childbirth has increased by 2.8 times, from AZN 200 ($117.6) to 300 ($176.4).
Under new reforms, an additional AZN 1.5 billion ($882.3 million) will be allocated in 2022 to increase salaries and other social payments.
In general, over the last three years, AZN 6 billion ($3.5 billion) has been allocated from state funds to increase salaries and other social benefits.
The DOST Agency, established in 2018 on the initiative of First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva and by a decree signed by President Ilham Aliyev, provides state social services in a timely, transparent, modern, and innovative manner.
There are currently five DOST centers. These centers served 410,575 citizens in 2021, and a total of 651,155 citizens in the previous period.
In 2021, the State Employment Agency provided 77,640 unemployed and job seekers with jobs.
Of them, 16,232 people were involved in the self-employment program and were provided with assets in their chosen fields of activity. This is by 13.8 times more than in 2017 when the program was launched.
The provision of assets to participants in the 'Support for Employment in Azerbaijan' project, which is being implemented jointly by the Labour and Social Security Ministry and the World Bank, has also begun.
This project will help to expand the self-employment program by assisting 22,000 unemployed people in starting small businesses through self-employment.
The State Employment Agency attracted 491 people to the wage co-financing program in 2021, and 988 people to vocational training courses.
Furthermore, significant progress was made last year in the areas of establishing disabilities and providing rehabilitation services to people with disabilities. During the year, approximately 62,000 people were assigned disabilities.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews' staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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