Alcoholics, prostitutes and schoolchildren
‘It turns out that alcoholics, prostitutes and school truants aree the main items of the next year’s revenue budget, –Fuad, a blogger, says jokingly. And he is not that far from the truth, in the recent years, the Azerbaijani government has been adopting a variety of new laws with the hope to support the budget. And the most recent ones, that appeared a few days ago, have been the subject of heated debates.
1. The law, banning purchase and sale of the alcohol drinks for cash, has been discussed most. Since January 1, sales and purchase (i.e. a seller and a buyer) of alcohol for cash will be imposed a fine of AZM 100. Whereas in case the purchase price exceeds AZM50, a party to this transaction will face a punishment ranging from AZM 1000 fine to a one-year imprisonment.
Social networks are indignant about this law, while many believe it is impossible to implement it. ‘The law is inviable, since it will be very difficult to control its execution, – says Teymur, a chemist. «They will have to assign a pair of cops per vendor kiosk or café . There won’t be enough people.’
Some people believe that the law, when it would not work, will be annulled; others think, customers and vendors will find a way to ‘get out it’. ‘For an extra charge, I can buy alcohol using my plastic card for those, who don’t have it, – says Tamilla – or a person at the cash desk will have a card to pay for a purchase, but he/she will take cash from a customer. To put it shortly, alcohol is going to be more expensive.’
2. Another subject for discussion are the amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences, which, among other things, provides for increase of the amount of fine for engagement in prostitution from AZM35 – 40 up to AZM100.
‘Under the new amendments, a fine for prostitution has been increased almost three times, Here’s an anti-crisis plan,’ – says Natig Jafarly, an economist.
3. Another addition to the Code of Administrative Offences is a fine, imposed on parents, whose’ children play truant. The matter concerns a AZM100 fine, provided that a truancy makes more than seven days.
In fact, there are different attitudes towards these changes. ‘If my child has caught cold and stays in bed at home, it turns out that I will have to pay anyway – either to a doctor for a visit and issuance of medical certificate, or to cover a fine,’ – complains Takhmina.
‘I am teaching math in a village in Tovuz district, and the majority of parents take their girls from school as soon as they reach higher grades,’ – says Valekh – Thus, girls here attend school till the age of twelve. I am positive about this new law, provided that it works. ‘
Besides, some new laws, toughening certain liabilities, were passed in autumn and December. In particular, fines and terms of imprisonment for unauthorized rallies and for ‘abuse of journalist’s rights» were increased. Penalties for tax evasion and fees in the trade and services spheres were increased in parallel. Besides, sales of apartments in certain cases has also become taxable. At the same time, the pro-governmental print media have been actively soliciting the population to pay taxes.
As is known, Azerbaijan’s revenues largely depend on the oil prices. This year, when the oil price sharply dropped, it has affected the economy – the national currency has depreciated by 34%, unemployment rate has increased (at least one in ten has lost a job in the banking sector alone), car and real estate markets have dropped, imports have decreased. The projected revenues to the next year’s state budget, even in Manat equivalent, are a quarter lower that those, projected for this year, while the oil price in it is set at the level of US$50 per barrel, which does not even correspond to the present indices.
Nevertheless, some economists believe, no ‘punitive’ measures will have a significant impact on the situation.