2019 March 11
Anti-Corruption Mar/11/2019: IRS trying to expose dishonest officials --- Mobster kicked out --- Misleading March 1st video removed --- Healthcare reforms --- 90% of gas stations given a warning --- Taxes on sugar, pawnshops, exchanges --- 40% increase in car imports --- more below
All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
IRS chief's office suspects that there are many instances when an IRS employee opened a Customs brokerage business under his family member's name. IRS plans to propose changes to the law to expose the real owners of these companies, and root out corruption and conflict of interest.
If passed by the government then the Parliament, the law will make it a felony for a Customs related company to hide if the owner is in any way related to IRS.
Another proposed change will ease the burden on businesses that were unable to file/disclose property ownership on time, for valid reasons. Currently, the IRS can seize assets immediately if there is a suspected fraud. It's proposed to give businesses an opportunity to explain the situation.
To help repatriates return to Armenia, IRS wants to repeal the law that charges a tax for personal products if the visitor hasn't been a permanent resident for the past 5 years, upon the entry.
IRS spokesman says that Norfolk Consulting, the customs company tied to the former HHK PM Karen Karapetyan and former IRS officials, which was caught avoiding taxes by falsifying product names to pass expensive products as socks (etc), has recovered the 3.4bln in damages.
Another mobster is raided.
Bogo from Noragyuhg had his property removed from the Central parking facility. He illegally opened a hotel, office, and illegally collected money from the parking lot drivers, says the police.
Last week, unknown people burned down the car belonging to the new director of the Central parking facility, who earlier vowed to fight crime and end the illegal practices. A week after the incident, the police raided Bogo and kicked him out.
The new director says 1mln/month for several years was stolen on the electricity alone.
Bogo is a relative of the former HHK MP Arkadiy Hambardzunyan, and a close friend of former oligarch Lfik Samo. The raid was conducted after the director explained the situation to Transport Minister.
The police has questioned several dozen people regarding the Security Dream and Elipsis companies which are tasked with providing security cameras to the police. Earlier, a company director testified that companies' owners were embezzling around half of the state funds issued to them by the police department.
The court has upheld the arrest warrant in-absentia for the former March 1st investigator, who is wanted for for allegedly falsifying data to cover up a crime by Kocharyan's regime during the 2008 events. Vahagn Harutyunyan is still on the run.
Ararat TV, also known as Roboserj media outlet 5th Channel, had its misleading March 1st clip removed from YouTube after a copyright strike by Shoghakat network producer Ara Shirinyan, a member of Yerevan Press Club. A1+ news network had also earlier complained about a stolen footage, but it's unclear if they participated in the takedown.
The clip was condemned by the families of the victims of March 1st murders, who said the producers lied to them about the nature of the clip, and included out of context bits from their interviews to push a pro-Kocharyan narrative.
Four members of Restart student activist group are told not to leave the country as the hooliganism investigation continues. Earlier they tried to dump Serj's police chief's assistant in a garbage bin.
The judge, who is hearing the former St. Gregory Illuminator hospital director's defamation lawsuit against Health Minister Torosyan, has refused to recuse himself, after the defense (Minister) argued the judge is impartial and favors the director.
The judge had earlier refused to contact the prosecutors to get the classified investigation materials and hold a closed door meeting, which would show the former director was involved in the corruption, thus proving no defamation, said the defense. It is unclear why the judge refused both suggestions.
Today, Minister's lawyer wasn't present because he wasn't properly notified about the date/time of the hearing.
Healthcare Minister Torosyan says they are working on a plan to establish a kidney, liver and heart transplant medical program by forming an organ donor network. The organs can be taken from the deceased who are donors.
As we learned earlier, Health Ministry will fully subsidize cancer surgeries. Other care such as chemo-therapy and medication will be partially subsidized. Next year, they plan to recalculate to see if chemo can be fully subsidized too.
200mln will be spent to help 300 patients to get a linear accelerator radiotherapy.
Health Ministry will increase the amount of subsidy they provide for childrens' single chemo course, from 150k to 250k.
Health Minister cites a Harvard research saying that the cigarette usage can decrease by 20% in the next 5 years if they raise the sales taxes and make a pack cost AMD 2000 instead of the current AMD 500.
He says public ads that discourage smoking aren't effective. Increasing the cost and banning its use in some locations are the effective methods to fight it.
88,000 lives will be saved (no time frame given), said Torosyan.
A newly proposed tax will be applied on sugary drinks, currency exchange locations and pawnshops. Businesses representing these industries were protesting today.
Sugary beverage industry isn't happy because they say the tax will reduce the consumption (which is the purpose of the tax). Finance Ministry has invited the businesses to debate the changes. They are negotiating around the amount of sugar in the beverage, and other things.
The exchange locations, which make money by buying and selling money, aren't happy with a whopping 60x annual administrative fee increase, which will go from 50k to 3mln per year. A 60x increase will also ally on pawnshops, which buy and sell products and give high interest loans to citizens who desperately need cash.
- BHK MP suggests capping the interest rate of pawnshops to prevent predatory practices.
- LHK MP says they need more examination to see whether an increase in administrative fees was warranted.
- QP MP says these pawnshops/exchanges make around 30mln pure profit, and even this steep 60x increase in administrative fees is reasonable. He says the field was unfairly given a "tax favor" in the past, but it has to come to an end.
33 out of 37 gas stations in Lori have been given a warning for ignoring sanitary laws in bathrooms, after the Ministry of Territorial Development conducts audits.
QP MP want to install separate recycling and garbage bins in the Parliament building to help raise awareness for the need to recycle. They made an agreement with a public organization to take care of the recycling.
An angry man drove his car into the Yerevan municipality building entrance and tried to set it on fire, after the authorities shut down his building, calling it illegal.
Car imports are increasing. February 2019 vs February 2018 saw a 40% increase. After the customs reform, clearing takes around 10 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the location and the waiting line. The IRS (which oversees customs) chief's office plans to install feedback boxes in the locations to hear visitors' complaints and suggestions.
Deputy speaker of Swedish Parliament has visited Armenia. She went to Tsitsernakaberd Genocide memorial. Said Sweden will soon ratify the EU-Armenia comprehensive cooperation agreement.
Edward Shawarmazanov is back with another proposal to ban homosexual propaganda. It is unclear why he hadn't done it in the past decade.
Vazgen Tevanyan wins the wrestling European youth championship. Khachatur Papikyan won bronze in the same competition, different weight category.
Artsakh Republic has condemned Azerbaijan for creating settlements in the occupied Shahumyan and Martuni regions of Artsakh, after Azerbaijan criticized Artsakh for creating a new settlement near the border with Iran.
OSCE is going to host the upcoming meeting between Pashinyan and Aliyev. The organizers have welcomed the recent peace at the borders and urged to continue the trend.
The organizers say the Artsakh issue should be solved based on Helsinki principles, which expects no use of force, respect for territorial integrity, respect for equal rights, and respect for self-determination of people.
OSCE says the talks should include discussions to give the areas surrounding Artsakh['s pre-war map] to Azerbaijan, a special temporary status for Artsakh which will give it security and self-governance, a corridor connecting Armenia to Artsakh, a legally bound final decision on the legal status of Artsakh, the return of refugees to their homes, international peacekeepers in the region.
European low cost Ryanair airlines will begin to make flights between EU-Armenia on 2020, confirms the Civil Aviation Committee chief Tatevik Revazyan after holding a meeting with the company. The average ticket price within EU is just $45, but it will cost more for the longer distance to-from Armenia. It will cost significantly less than $400, however, which is what other airlines charge.
This will help to improve the tourism flow between EU and Armenia.
Apparently people eat ice cream on winter, and apparently they ate 39x more on January 2019 vs 2018.
Do you eat ice cream when it snows?
Edit: Car imports are February 2019 vs February 2018.
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/azz6p5/anticorruption_mar112019_irs_trying_to_expose/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|