"The COVID-19 pandemic has not had a strong impact on the socio-economic development of Azerbaijan."
This was said by Sarah Michael, the World Bank's Country Manager for Azerbaijan, during the presentation of the World Bank's report "Protection of human capital during shocks and crises".
Fakt Yoxla examined whether Sarah Michael’s claim was true.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. In Azerbaijan, the special quarantine regime related to the coronavirus has been applied since March 2020. Since that time, the coronavirus pandemic caused serious difficulties in the field of health care as well as in socio-economic directions.
Table: Changes in GDP in Azerbaijan over the last 5 years
As can be seen from the table, compared to the previous year, in 2020, when the pandemic began, the gross domestic product of Azerbaijan decreased by approximately 9 billion manats or 4.3% to the level of 2017. In the last 5 years, the GDP of the country has decreased only in the year when the pandemic began. In the years of independence, Azerbaijan's GDP nominally decreased compared to the previous year only three times in total - in 2009, when the global financial crisis occurred, in 2015, when devaluations occurred, and in 2020, when the pandemic began.
Table: Export of non-oil products of Azerbaijan in the last 5 years
The year the pandemic began, Azerbaijan's non-oil exports also decreased. Compared to the previous year, the value of non-oil exports in 2020 decreased by $103 million or 5.3%.
Due to the pandemic, in 2020, in addition to economic indicators, social indicators also decreased in Azerbaijan. According to official figures, the unemployment rate in Azerbaijan in 2019 was equal to 4.8%. In 2020, unemployment rose to 7.2 percent. This means that the number of unemployed has increased by 50% or 125 thousand people in just 1 year.
Table: The unemployment rate in Azerbaijan in the last 5 years
In 2020, in addition to the number of unemployed people, a sharp increase in the number of the poor was also recorded in the country. Compared to the previous year, the poverty rate in Azerbaijan increased from 4.8% to 6.2% in 2020. This means an increase of 29% or about 120 thousand people.
Table: Poverty level in Azerbaijan in 2018-2021
Note: The indicator for 2022 has not yet been announced.
Thus, in 2020, when the pandemic began, Azerbaijan's GDP decreased by 9 billion manats or 4.3%, and non-oil exports decreased by 103 million dollars or 5.3%. On the other hand, the level of unemployment in the country has increased by 50%, and the level of poverty by 29%.
Fakt Yoxla concludes that Sara Michael’s claim is False.