Mikayil Jabbarov: tax man and erudite person

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Mikayil Jabbarov: tax man and erudite person

In early December, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has signed an order on dismissal of Fazil Mammadov from the post of the country’s taxes minister and appointed Mikayil Jabbarov, who is known in Russia as a member of the erudite club 'What? Where? When?' and in Azerbaijan - as the Minister of Education, the head of the State Department of the Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisher and the Deputy Minister of Economic Development. Analysts believe that problems in Azerbaijan's tax sphere were related not to the legislative base, but to the human factor, and now a person opened to reforms has been found.

Mikayil Jabbarov is 41 years old. He was born in Baku, he studied at school No. 1 on Tolstoy Street for seven years, which is interesting because until 1953 it operated like a Suvorov School with very strict military discipline, a special form of clothing and its own charter. When Jabbarov entered there, it was an ordinary secondary school, but after the seventh grade, Mikail decided to receive an advanced education in the Lyceum of Technical and Human Sciences, founded by Academician Azad Mirzazhanzade. "Wherever I studied, there were good teachers who gave us - their students - a lot. We are in touch with some of them, some of them still work in the education system ... Each of us has a bit of the teacher with whom they work," Jabbarov said.

After the Lyceum, he graduated with an honors diploma in international Law from the Baku State University, played in What? Where? When? and in Brain-Ring intellectual quizzes, was president of Baku Intellectual Games Club 'Ateshgah', and then was elected Vice-Chairman of the Azerbaijani Youth Organizations Forum. In the mid-1990s, Jabbarov became an absolute champion of CIS countries of Brain-Ring intellectual quizz, he was the first Azerbaijani connoisseur who played in the Moscow TV version of What? Where? When?, and then went to California to obtain a master's degree in law at  McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, later becoming a member of the New York State Bar Association.

But Jabbarov didn't give up to participate in the quizz, and in 2002 he was declared the world champion in Brain Ring, the champion of Azerbaijan in the sports version of What? Where? When?, and then again took up his studies. Two years later, he obtained a Master's Degree in Economics from Azerbaijan State Economic University, having previously worked as  adviser to the minister at the Ministry of Economic Development and president of the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO).

After receiving a master's degree, Jabbarov was appointed deputy minister of economic development. In the ministry, he he was coordinating relations with the international financial institutions, as well as foreign economic relations, foreign investment policy, legal issues at the international arbitration.

In 2009, Jabbarov was entrusted with the 'heart of Baku' - he was appointed head of the State Department of the Historical and Architectural Reserve of Icherisher, and the next year the Old Town, together with the Palace of Shirvanshahs and the Maiden Tower was included in the UNESCO list of the World Heritage . And Icherisher became the first Azerbaijani object, which was included in the World Heritage List.

Four years ago, given Jabbarov's merits in the humanitarian sphere, the Azerbaijani president appointed him Minister of Education. Then serious reforms were initiated in this sphere. "We live in a digital age with an increased fastness of living, when the concept of fast food dominates, when everyone wants 'here and now'. They pull out a separate element and wait for the result. And our reform program is not one-sided ... There can be just one problem, but sometimes ten steps in ten spheres are required to solve it," Jabbarov explained his approach to reform.

But even being a young man who studied the United States, he demonstrated philosophical understanding of the situation both in his country and throughout the post-Soviet space: "It is clear, capitalism... But society should not slide into a state where all decisions are made only proceeding from meeting material needs. There are also intangible needs. Yes, it is unpopular, it is more difficult to promote than a direct causal link. But we must try."

With the President of Russian State Humanitarian University Yefim Pivovar

Perhaps, taking into account Jabbarov's knowledge of foreign experience and understanding of the situation in his country, experts hope for the effectiveness of the reforms, which the new minister is to launch in the tax sphere. They say that Mikayil Jabbarov's ability to implement the reforms in life provided the basis for choosing the candidate for the post of Azerbaijan's chief tax official.

"I prefer to talk about facts and figures. Yes, we have problems, yes, we absolutely consciously decided not to suppress these problems, but to discuss them with the society. And even emphasize these problems in a certain sense. This is an obligatory condition for a reform," Jabbarov stressed.