Apartments granted to MPs
The reports that 13 MPs will be granted apartments in a newly built fashionable district have stirred public outrage and the politicians’ negative reaction, making them recall the rest of the sins of the people’s chosen ones.
The matter concerns the ‘White Town’ district, where the new residential houses, hotels, futuristic buildings, English-style even lawns, as well as lakes with swans , are being constructed to replace the old plants.
And also, the MPs- Ogtay Asadov, Parliament Speaker, and other people’s chosen ones, including Hadi Rajabli, who is known for suggesting that teachers should take odd jobs as stone masons if they feel their salaries are not enough.
Hadi Rajabli is also known for running business in the sphere of tourism and sales of office machines. The MP owns a couple of trade centers and hotels in his native Lenkoran district, including ‘Palıdlı sahil’ hotel & recreation complex .
Mehman Huseynov, a well-known blogger, who conducted an investigation there, claims that one of the hotels was built on the place of children’s hospital.
Milli Majlis (Parliament) press service denied the reports on ‘allocation’ of apartments. In addition, Mehman Huseynov also reported, he couldn’t find any evidence that the MPs had been really granted the apartments and that after such a stir it would be hard to find anything at all.
Nevertheless, this theme has become an information pretext for press and public to recall the numerous assets owned by the MPs.
For example, Nazim Beydemirli , a businessman, who used to be an MP in 2005-2010, told Radio Liberty that MPs are often alloted new dwelling at the expense of the budget and, in addition, it happens a bunch of times.
“There are Milli Majlis members, who get the apartments even for their grandchildren, using their MP status. One and the same MPs are granted apartments in every convocation, while the law prescribes that an apartment may be granted only to a homeless MP. But they are thinking of getting apartments for their relatives, children and grandchildren at the government’s expense.”
Officially, on the Prime Minister Artur Rasizade’s 2016 decree, MPs should be granted apartments provided that they have no housing .
Social media users took the MPs’ ‘housing issue’ close to their hearts:
“They seem to be purposefully doing it to outrage the public. They are doing everything to get a revolution.”
“Meanwhile, the IDPs are living in beastly conditions, unlike MPs, who are responsible to ensure their return to their native homes.”
“I’ll rent out an apartment to a vagrant MP. Without a family. I won’t charge much. We’ll make a deal. No chicks allowed.”
“What else is new? MPs already have all the best. They’ve bought everything through bribes and monopolized everything movable and immovable; each of them can afford buying 3-4 apartments. So, there’s nothing surprising about it.”
Natik Jafarli, a prominent economist and the Republican Alternative (ReAl) party board member, says:
“The Speaker was granted a house; he may have 100 houses, but once you look at him, you’ll think that it’s due to him that the food prices are hiking and he is the very reason for this crisis. He would have probably given one of his houses, let’s say, to a Shehid family, but only if he had actually depended on the public opinion, elections and voters.”
So, what do the public servants own?
Khadija Ismayil, a well-known investigative journalist:
“Although MPs are banned from being engaged in business under the law, this hardly prevents any of them from doing it. For example, according to the investigations that I conducted jointly with other journalists for Radio Liberty and OCCRP (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project), the MPs own numerous land plots that are used for agricultural business. They also run tourism business.
In addition, our investigation revealed that MP Javanshir Pashazadeh and now-former MPs- Arif Pashayev and Adil Aliyev, run business in the tourism sphere (restaurants, hotels).
Apart from the overseas business, the MPs also own some real estate there. For example, according to the investigation Radio Liberty’s journalistic investigation, the aforementioned MP, Javanshir Pashazadeh owns the number of apartment houses in the center of Karlovy Vary.
Alongside various assets and businesses, MPs are also paid salaries in Azerbaijan, amounting to AZN 2,250 (US$1,180), which they receive 16 times a year . They are also paid separate sums to cover monthly professional expenses, their lives and health are insured to the amount of 5 annual salaries. Upon their retirement, former MPs are eligible for a monthly allowance amounting to 80% of their salary , which they receive for the period of 1 year. The total of AZN23million (approximately 12million) will be spent on Azerbaijani parliament this year.
Nevertheless, many MPs complain about lack of funds. “I had no complaints about my salary before the devaluation, but I’m facing hard times now. You should understand that an MP has many expenses. Unlike the MPs in other countries, we cover all the transport and phone communication costs ourselves,” Evda Abramov, MP .
Azerbaijani MPs have been caught not only in running business and owing real estate, but also in various shady deals. For example, Farhad Garibov, an MP, owned the ‘Debut’ bank and was allocated state funds for supporting entrepreneurship. Having received those funds, he lost certain portion (AZN250,000) in a casino in Georgia. Whereas in 2010, Elnur, his son (who was registered as the bank owner), was charged with a criminal offence, whereas the bank was seized its license .
Another MP, Asabil Qasimov, is an owner of the Carat Holding company, which in recent years has been actively buying the rival companies at the grain and milling industry market in Georgia. Due to that it has actually become a monopolist in Georgia, supplying most of the bread to the shops throughout this country .
However, the most high-profile and exemplary fraud case took place a few years ago, when MP Gyular Ahmedova tried to sell her MP mandate for US$1million .
Thus, the ‘housing issue’ is just a drop in the ocean, a brief information pretext amidst the whole diversity of cases involving Azerbaijani public servants.