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Transparency Azerbaijan, under the framework of the European Union-funded regional project "National Integrity System Assessment in the ENP East countries", today held a roundtable event to launch public discussion on the "Easy Business by ASAN service centres" concept paper proposed by Transparency Azerbaijan. ASAN service centres (ASAN stands as an abbreviation for Azerbaijan Service Assessment Network, it also means “easy” in Azerbaijani language) is a one-stop shop model – where citizens are able to receive 30 legal and 32 functional public services rendered by state agencies. The paper finds that currently the Azerbaijani small- and medium-sized business community is suffering from lack of information as well as administrative and resource impediments which would be improved if ASAN service centres would also focus on providing information, services and support (financial support, legal aid and business trainings) to businesses.
At the event, Elvin Yusifli, PT Project Director of Transparency Azerbaijan, underlined that ASAN service centres of State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations provided one-window public services intended for citizens in last three years. “The impressive social impact of ASAN centres is evidenced by the number of applications received between 2012-2015, which was more than 4 million applications – most of which are from citizens,” said Yusifli. This clearly underlines ASAN service centres as a new effective model of the public administration system for citizens. In contrast to the strong social services provision, currently, the business-focused one-window public services provision by ASAN centres is not comprehensive enough. Therefore, Transparency Azerbaijan believes there is a need for ASAN centres to turn closer towards businesses as a new strategic orientation in public administration, which would work undoubtedly for the benefit of small- and medium-sized businesses. In this regard, Transparency Azerbaijan calls government agencies to actively engage in public discussion around this concept paper and to work constructively to implement this concept in public administration.
Ms Ulviyya Abdullayeva, Project Manager at EU Delegation to Azerbaijan welcomed the participants and stated that implementation and development of one-window public administration model for businesses can boost the non-oil sector in Azerbaijani economy.
İlgar Abdullayev, head of the State Register Department under Data Processing Center of the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies also delivered a speech on "Electronic Business".
In July 2014, Transparency Azerbaijan released the report “National Integrity System Assessment in Azerbaijan”. This report showed that despite the positive measures recently taken by the government regarding business registration, Azerbaijani small businesses still suffer from unfavorable market conditions. Thus, high cost and bureaucratic impediments to licenses and permits, limited access to finance, lack of skilled labor, tough foreign trade and custom regulations continue to be major market obstacles. Accordingly, Mahammad Muradov, Project Coordinator of NIS, pointed out that it is possible to benefit from the resources and skills of ASAN centers in order to overcome these impediments and to futher develop the Azerbaijani business environment. Additionally, he highlighted that business planning; provision of information on legal and technical requirements; provision of major liscences and permits; enhanced customs’ and foreign trade regulation; access to state business credits; getting to communal services; as well as provision of audit and legal consultation by ASAN service centers would be possible across the country. For this purpose, it is very important to have political will and constructive cooperation of state agnecies. Implementation of this adminstration model would stimulate the development of the business environment and, consequently, would positively affect credit ratings of the country in Doing Business and the ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index.
The "Easy business by ASAN service centers" concept paper proposes that business-oriented public information as well as public services and public support (financial and legal) which are needed in business activities are provided through one-window system by ASAN service centers. ASAN service centers for businesses can be established in three stages:
• Easy information for businesses
• Easy public services for businesses
• Easpy public support for businesses
At the first stage, ASAN service centers can facilitate access to public information on business legislation, especially, on legal and technical requirements; at the second stage, they can provide business oriented public services from one-window systems, and finally, support business development in legal, financial and administrative areas at the third stage.