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2018 November 19

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Anti-Corruption Daily

by ar_david_hh

All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.

The investigative committee has hundreds of open corruption cases totaling AMD 555mln, out of which AMD 42mln have been recovered so far https://factor.am/100188.html

State Oversight Committee says that a criminal case is launched regarding former PM Hovik Abrahamyan’s 30HA land being irrigated illegally for 15 years. They’ve uncovered the damage amount for one year and they’re now working with the local authorities to find the total damages for the previous 14 years. The Yerevan State University audit is reaching its final stages. They’ve uncovered more problems than in the Agrarian University earlier https://factor.am/100535.html

NSS chief says they'll officially publish the findings in the case involving a large scale corruption by an MP. (most likely the story about the businesswoman bribing a former HHK minister) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FusNec7Q_BI

PM Pashinyan is demanding answers from the presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan for violating the CSTO military bloc protocols and discussing behind-the-door meeting materials with non-member Aliyev. Pashinyan had a phone call with Putin about the topic, who then contacted the two presidents. Belarus foreign ministry wasn’t happy about Pashinyan’s criticism, and accused him of bringing the “April-style street fight” into the CSTO, and being too judgmental. QP's Alen Simonyan responds to Belarus Foreign Ministry by accusing them of harming the trustworthiness of the treaty with the unethical actions. Lukashenko’s cozy games with Aliyev was a preparation for a new arms deal, which was signed today, which will provide air defense systems to Baku. Backstory: Belarus and Kazakhstan have, for years, supported Azerbaijan and sold various weapons to the country to preserve the friendly foreign relations even with Azerbaijan not being a member of the CSTO.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/954875.html --- https://www.hraparak.am/posts/5bf0447ae785d006a262f4b9/ալեն-սիմոնյանի-համարժեք-պատասխանը-բելառուսի-ագն-խոսնակին ——- https://factor.am/100569.html -----

Defense Ministry has fired several high ranking commanders and issued a warning to others for negligence, after a truck carrying soldiers crashed killing four people earlier https://armenpress.am/arm/news/954896.html

Armenian army will be supplied with the Russian SU-30SM fighter jets instead of the Swedish Gripen, within the next 1-2 years. The contract is in the final stage. The first jets could be delivered as early as 2019. The acquisition of these fighter jets, not found in Azeri arsenal, is part of the military strategy to transform the army from defensive to a more preemptive/offensive type. The jets will increase the capabilities to strike objects further inside the enemy territory. The advantages of SU-30SM is that it can carry 8 tons and strike objects up to 300KM away from low altitudes. https://youtu.be/uVq7ZiqbkD4?t=295

Prime Minister’s cabinet will create a database of high skilled workers who will pass through multiple stages of interviews, and will be able to take jobs at various government agencies and improve their careers. https://www.civilnet.am/news/2018/11/17/Փաշինյանը-ստեղծում-է-կադրային-բանկ-հորդորում-է-CV-ներ-և-մոտիվացիոն-նամակներ-ուղարկել/348782

ARF leader says they wished the elections took place 5 years from now, instead of this month. Says ARF won’t form a coalition with QP under any circumstances. Hopes that the new MPs will be experienced and won’t take the country to the wrong direction. https://factor.am/100352.html

HHK's Arpine Hovhanisyan and some others are against the IRS's proposed changes to make tax filings mandatory by 2020. Citizens between the ages of 18-65 could be required to disclose their income annually, as done in most countries such as US during April tax filings. IRS says it is an important element in fighting against the grey economy.

... opponents have suggested that people who receive financial help from relatives in diaspora will be taxed at 23%. IRS chief implied during an interview that ordinary family transactions won't be taxed during the transfer because they are a family expense, and diasporan workers many not be required to pay taxes based on whatever they've earned outside upon returning to Armenia, but they will have to declare their income nonetheless. The IRS will send them the necessary paperwork to fill out.

... IRS chief also said that foreign fund transfers (small or big) are still considered an income even under the existing law, and they should be declared during the tax filings. This has always been the law, but IRS has never been able to properly enforce income taxation due to lack of tax reporting system. Practically, IRS chief admits that the tax filer could still decide not to write in the tax declaration that they've received a sum from someone, but he advises against it.

...IRS also denies that low income farmers selling agricultural products will be taxed by this bill.

(The target of the bill appears to be relatively large players. With IRS making below AMD 20mln businesses exempt from income taxation due to themselves spending more money on auditing vs getting revenue, it is unlikely they intend to go after small mom and pap bank transfers with this proposal. For a perspective, if you were to send $200/mo to your relatives in Armenia, that's only $2,400/year. If IRS won't audit $41,000/year (20mln AMD) businesses anymore because they lose money, why would they chase the $2,400? The proposed changes make no mention of requiring MoneyGram locations to collect taxes or let the government know that the person received funds. We will have to wait and see the actual bill to have a more clear understanding. These are just discussions at this stage, as stated by IRS chief. If the person is poor and is already exempt from taxes, would any of this apply to them at all?)

http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/148708 —- http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/148714 —- https://armenpress.am/arm/news/955025.html —- http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/148716 --- https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/9yk1bu/tax_authorities_plans_to_tax_money_transfers/ea1zfol/

... the IRS plans to remove the 23, 28, 36% tax brackets and implement a flat 23% income tax by mid-2019, then reduce it to 20% by 2023. Businesses and individuals with less than AMD 20mln business income won’t pay the 23% tax. Alcohol and cigarettes will be taxed higher. Wine and beer will also be taxed but at a lesser degree than spirits. Cars with above 300h/p strength engines will pay 3x more “pollution tax”. The bill still has to go through multiple stages, inducing public discussion, before being sent to Parliament. https://hetq.am/hy/article/98291

Nations League: Armenian soccer team defeats Gibraltar 6:2 and moves to the second place in the group. Yura Movsisyan scored 4 goals and became the best striker in the tournament. Armenia and Spain are the leaders in the number of scored goals. For Armenia to advance to next stage, Macedonia has to lose to Gibraltar, which is unlikely to happen. The game is 1:0 in favor of Macedonia as of writing this post. Armenia is currently losing to Lichtenstein 2:1, which will make the Macedonia game result irrelevant. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/954884.html

Skier Mikael Mikaelyan wins gold medal in Finnish U20 competition, securing a ticket for the 2019 World Championship https://armenpress.am/arm/news/954951.html

Armenia Fund charity took place in France. The tele-donations rose 2% this year. Don't forget that the main Armenia Fund 2018 Telethon event is this Thanksgivings Day, on November 22. https://www.armeniafund.org/telethon-2018/

The authorities in Azerbaijan have arrested the popular opposition figures Ali Kerimli and Jamal Hasanli. The former is known for gathering relatively large number of protesters during anti-Aliyev rallies. They were planning to hold a protest across Baku during the Azeribaijan's "Memorial Day". Kerimli is penalized 2000 manats for holding an “unsanctioned rally”, and later released from jail. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/954929.html

Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/9yl4mf/anticorruption_nov192018/

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