Upon the decree of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, February 11 has been marked as the Professional Holiday of tax officers since 2005. This year, the tax officers celebrated the 15th anniversary of their professional holiday, and Deputy Minister of Taxes Sahib Alekberov gave an interview to Report information agency.
- Mr. Sahib, could you please tell us about the work done by the Ministry of Taxes so far and the essence of these works?
- The State Tax Service or former Ministry of Taxes is a central executive body, which is included in the economic block of the government and plays a unique role in the provision of the incomes of the state budget, and has always tried to cope with its duties. It has carried out positive and creative projects in recent years, of which results are apparent. The President also said at the conference on ‘State Program on the socio-economic development of the regions of Azerbaijan in 2019-2023’ that tax and customs agencies played an essential role in increasing the state budget revenues. You know that more than AZN 1 billion was transferred to the state budget in 2019. These funds were directed to raise wages, scholars, pensions, covering 4.2 million people in Azerbaijan.
One of the successes achieved in recent years is a decline in mobile inspections and operative control measures. This decline was nearly sevenfold during the past two years. Some thought that the tax receipts would also drop. 10-12% of tax receipts came from these inspections before. However, as I said, the tax receipts increased. Tax officers are mainly engaged in enlightenment, and taxpayers voluntarily fulfill their duties. That is one of our main achievements.
- The Ministry of Taxes was abolished, and a State Tax Service was created under the Ministry of Economy. Could you explain this innovation? What will these changes give you and taxpayers?
- First of all, there will be no limitations here. It is only rebranded, and there is much similar practice in the world. For example, there is a Tax Service under the Ministry of Finance in Russia. In Azerbaijan, reforms are conducted in different fields, including the economy. The President considers that the economic growth rate must be higher. For this purpose, he transferred some relevant bodies to the balance of the Ministry of Economy. The Ministry of Economy defines the development goals. What do we need for that? Of course, we need funds, and we need to solve other issues I think it will take time, after such structural and other problems will be addressed, and there will be no limitations since the State Tax Service will operate independently under the Ministry of Economy.
- The Ministry of Taxes was earlier concerned with the gaps in the accountability of farmers. There was even a sevenfold difference between reports submitted to the Ministry of Taxes and the Ministry of Agriculture. In my last interview with you, you said the ministry intended to win over these stereotypes through enlightening. How is the situation in this field now?
- Yes, about a year ago, this topic was on the agenda. However, in the last six months, we have toughened measures in the places, and the results were very successful. Registration issues for about 93,000 farmers have been resolved so far. There are people from some categories that have specific problems. Other state bodies solve these problems. After addressing these problems, this figure will increase.
- As you said, tax and customs agencies transferred more than AZN 1 billion to the state budget in 2019. The forecast for 2020 is already known. Is the State Tax Service ready for the fulfillment of this obligation?
- I think there will be no problem with the forecast. The forecast in other cities and regions grew by 28.6%. This figure is usually 3-5%. It may cause difficulty in certain cities and regions. However, I think the measures we took and we will take will compensate for it.
- We heard about the shortage of personnel when the Ministry of Taxes. Currently, the number of taxpayers exceeds 1 million. How will the State Tax Service solve the personnel shortage?
- There has never been enough specialized personnel in the Ministry of Taxes. This is the same for all state bodies. Staff should be trained and then selected. We are working on it. We announce a contest twice a year. The next one will be declared in late March.
- In the end, we would like to hear your recommendations or appeal to taxpayers and tax officers.
- President Ilham Aliyev appreciated tax agencies and their activity at the last conference and expressed his hope that we should try to solve these issues for the future. Tax officers should do all this. I think they understand their responsibilities.
As for entrepreneurs, I’d like to say that a tax agency is not an agency getting anyone’s income. Our minister repeatedly said that the tax agency offered cooperation to entrepreneurs. Most of them accepted this offer, and we are now working together. I call on everyone to work transparently and pay the taxes fully.