2019 July 11
Anti-Corruption & News from Armenia - Jul/11/2019: Pensions to rise by 10%..... Earthquake survivor housing.... 3 directors & others busted with corruption.... Court vs former March 1st investigator.... Sevan Lake explained..... Tax waivers... Tourism growth...
Disclaimer: All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law, even if they may sound as being guilty. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
190 judges are holding a meeting. 2 of them were elected as Supreme Court Council members. (not to be confused with Constitutional Court) https://armtimes.com/hy/article/165996 --- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/166042
The investigators found corruption cases in Gyumri's Youth Sports Complex, and a clinic.
The sports complex director allegedly stole 2.5mln salaries dedicated for a coach, who never went to work between 2014-2018 but continued to be registered as an employee.
The clinic director is accused of similarly registering 3 people for 6 job positions and stealing 2.6mln between 2011-2019.
Investigators say Bergashat school's director demanded a $1,000 bribe from a woman to accept her as a teacher in 2017. The woman's family paid the bribe partially but defrauded the corrupt director and didn't pay the rest. All parties involved in the case are now facing felony charges.
20 big name show business stars have announced that they've registered as taxpayers and will pay taxes from revenues generated by concerts. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/166028
The Appeals Court has ruled that the arrest warrant for the former chief March 1st investigator Vahagn Harutyunyan, is justified. Harutyunyan is currently on the run. He is charged with conspiring with others to tamper with evidence (e.g., bullet shells) to cover up the army's involvement in March 1st events.
Lake Sevan update.
The green color cased by algae and phosphorus, as predicted, has been noticeably reduced, but isn't gone. The Ministry of Health advises not to swim in areas with lots of algae in order to avoid an accidental swallowing and skin rushes. The notably affected areas are the shores near Vardenis and Martuni, but algae can "travel", so it's advised to judge the safety by looking at the color of the nearby water.
As of right now, the lake is 1cm higher than the same period last year. This year 25mln cubic meter less water was drained for irrigation, than last year. The Ministry convinced the pre-authorized water drainage to be further reduced. 5mln m3 water was poured into Sevan through Arpa-Sevan canal.
A decision was made to use extra money for the cleanup, says Minister of Nature Eric Grigoryan. 770 hectare water will be cleaned of submerged trees (which causes organic growth) in the next 2 years, several times more than in the previous years.
The Minister said the previous administration had plans to clean up the shores from trees, but didn't do it properly. For example, a 2012 research showed that a scheduled 700 hectare area was left uncleaned. Entire trees were left submerged in some areas. In Vardenis region, 30% of the cleanup work was done, but they didn't remove the tree trunks, which are now submerged. Same story in Artanish region. The Ministry has gathered the cleanup work info done between 2015-2017 and submitted it to the prosecutors.
At the moment, there is no significant irrigation water drainage from Sevan. They are examining the work done by the nearby water cleanup stations. Ministry is in talks with private companies to possibly install biological cleanup facilities (remove small particles), in addition to having the existing mechanical cleanup facilities (remove large particles). Building 3 bio-cleanup facilities will cost 2bln. Cleanup offers are being made by Russia and other countries.
UNESCO and German companies have been involved. Japan has provided materials, that are currently being tested in the lab, that has the ability to kill the harmful growth.
Ministry is discussing with PM's office on how to clean up rivers that pour into the lake as part of the long term solution to prevent pollution.
Minister Eric Grigoryan said the main cause of today's problem is many years of negligence. "Not draining more water and not polluting more, isn't enough right now". Cleanup operations and the restoration of the lake's "cold layer" that kills the unwanted organic growth is what's needed to restore the balance.
The so called "cold layer" is at the bottom of the lake. It's 4 degrees Celsius. Cold layer prevents the deep-water plants/organisms from growing upwards. Draining water for years has caused the lake's levels to get lower, and the upper parts of cold layer to get warmer, allowing organic growth to "escape". Raising levels by a few meters, possibly by 6 meters, will allow the lower layers to get colder.
The water quality is at the "medium" quality now (fresh, medium, swamp). There is no immediate risk of it turning into a swamp, but intensive work needs to be done to preserve the quality of the water.
The Minister said illegal siga fishing is being investigated, but selling the illegal fish on the market is hard to stop due to legal loopholes. Those needs to be legislatively solved.
Video TLDR: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEGULfLcakY
The government held a session.
PM Pashinyan said the tourists spent 57.2bln ($120mln) more in 1H19 than 1H18. Number of tourists is up by 12.3% for the same period.
Food service purchases with foreign bank cards rose by 75%, hotel service use up by 32%, getting cash back rose by 22%, supermarket transactions up avg50%. Numbers are for June-2019 vs June-2018.
2013 vs 2019. Money spent by avg tourist rose from $730 to $880. Number of hotels serving tourists rose by 300.
Government approved a 0.5bln aid for Education Ministry to purchase fancy scientific equipment. Another 0.6bln for cultural expenditure, to install air conditioning in the National Gallery, repair Tumanyan's museum, repair Sundukyan and Dramatikakan theaters, repair a statue near Garni temple, etc.
Optional military service "Pativ Unem", which is meant for students with high grades and "produces commanders", which lasts 3 years and provides more benefits and vacations than to normal conscripts, will be slashed to 2 years and 3 months.
Government gave temporary tax waiver so Jermuk Group so it can invest 281mln and create 11 more jobs with 350k salary. Annual production to rise by 640mln. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/165975
Մոեֆֆգրուպ industrial parts producer received a tax waiver to invest 14.5bln to create 100 new jobs with 130k salary.
Tax waiver was given to A&M water bottling company to invest 1.1bln and create 14 new jobs.
Pensions for 560,000 seniors will increase by 10% beginning 2020, said Pashinyan. It'll cost the budget 25bln/year. Earlier this year the government increased the "minimum" pensions.
Soldiers are already receiving the ~20% raise, and teachers will see a raise beginning this September 1st.
3bln will be provided to solve the housing problems faced by the survivors of Spitak earthquake. This aid package will cover all the legal financial responsibilities that the state has towards the 453 remaining survivor families who still haven't received a housing.
June-2019 vs June-2018 traffic rose by 12% in airports. 1H19 vs 1H18 traffic increased by 9.4%.
When Armenia became an EAEU member, it was given a 5-year waiver in order not to raise border import tariffs on hundreds of products. That waiver expires in 2020.
As a result, cars imported from other countries will see tariffs rise by multiple times. Cars older than 5 years will be taxed the highest.
A QP MP Papmukhchyan says it's less likely to be able to receive another waiver, but the government is trying to find out if certain conditions can be changed.
Car import numbers...
2019: 54k so far in the first half.
Police chief Osipyan complains that the practice of checking cars for technical adequacy before allowing them on the roads, isn't functioning at all.
Yerevan municipality wants the low income people and those under 18 to call 1-05 and report any instances of hospitals charging fees for healthcare that is supposed to be free. The doctors who don't properly notify the patients about free service will receive warnings.
The city will post mandatory placards at visible places in hospitals to help the patients learn what services and meds are free.
Foreign Ministry of Poland promised to be "more cautious" while making statements about Artsakh, after Armenian colleagues complained that Polish Foreign Minister earlier made a one-sided "territorial integrity" statement while in Baku, without mentioning "people's rights for self-determination".
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/cc05za/anticorruption_news_from_armenia_jul112019/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|