2019 May 8
Anti-Corruption & News - May/8/2019: It's been a year. What has Pashinyan administration done since the revolution?
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.
Nikol Pashinyan gave a press conference today, during which he listed some achievements since the revolution.
1) They'll collect not 40bln more taxes as initially predicted, but 62bln ($129mln) for 2019. That's a 25% rise compared to a year ago.
2) After assuming the office, they found that the IRS was requiring businesses to pay more money than they were supposed to. 120bln in business debt was annulled.
3) They returned 19bln more cash to businesses by correcting VAT calculations, compared to previous years.
4) The printing of sales receipts rose by 40% (82mln more instances) for the same period vs pre-revolution. Receipts allow the IRS to find the business's real revenues.
5) The new cashier/sales devices that IRS mandates for businesses are being given to small/medium businesses for 60k instead of 160k Drams. They have an option to pay it through small installments throughout the year. The sales device business was "liberated", which will result in 2 more companies entering the market soon. Businesses in bordering regions will receive the devices and get them installed for free.
6) 51,000 jobs were either moved out of grey zone, or created.
7) To accommodate for the sudden spike of car imports, all customs facilities begun to register cars, without a "lunch time". The IRS created a tool that allows importers to calculate how much taxes they should expect to pay based on the year/make/model.
8) Soldiers' salaries will raise by 20% (30% for those serving in tough areas) starting this July 1st. Teacher salaries to raise starting September 1st.
9) 5.7bln was spent towards taking care of housing for retired soldiers. Bordering residents will receive more benefits.
10) The military reduced the number of young recruits at the border by 700. They were replaced by hired soldiers and more experienced members of Police Forces.
11) 47 new border trenches received industrial-grade electric grid network, 73 new positions have a running water, 180 new positions have refrigeration for food (45 more in near future), 380 new washing machines for border positions, 136 new border monitoring cameras installed.
12) Military changed the food based on soldiers' feedback. They now get lavash and other products.
13) Higher quality clothing for the soldiers. They now have the right to use a cell phone (no camera, video, internet) to call family. Pashinyan jokes about people saying the government had no choice but to give this benefit to all soldiers because his own son needed to have the ability to call him from the army.
14) In the process of buying SU-30SM modern jets from Russia.
15) The 1k Dram tax collected from workers is now also covering soldiers/families who suffered a loss during 2008-2016. 339 people will receive 100k-400k/month compensation. In past, only soldiers/families who suffered after 2017 were receiving this aid.
16) 410 apartments were donated to families of fallen soldiers. In some other cases the government is helping to pay their rent.
17) 209,000 workers had an automatic salary raise on 2018 July 1st because of tax reductions. 200,000 additional workers will receive a similar saving/raise when the new tax laws are implemented.
18) 85,000 seniors had a pension raise to meet the minimum food basket standards.
19) Government's negotiations led to water fees remaining the same; they were set to rise.
Low income residents are paying 20 Dram and 10 Dram less for gas and electricity.
20) 10,000 doctors had a 30% salary raise twice, on 2018 July and 2019. 15,000 doctors now receive free healthcare.
21) 2,600 professors working at state-run university had a salary raise, in some cases by 3x.
22) 1,650 workers at nuclear plant had a 16% salary raise. This month the 650 workers of high volt electric grid will see a 27% salary raise.
23) 40%-100% salary raise for 530 nature protection workers.
Zvartnots airport has a new weather alert system. 39 workers received a 30% salary raise. Its revenues doubled compared to 2017.
148 agricultural lab workers had a 11% salary raise. 1,722 teachers and social workers in Gegharquniq had up to 15% salary raise. In Armavir 485 got a 10% raise. This isn't the full list, says Pashinyan.
24) The police officers are receiving around 30% salary bonuses. Those who work hard and bust cases get a 300% bonus. He brags that this was one of his promises he made while on the streets during the revolution.
NSS salaries rose by 30%. Other government agency workers also received bonuses, which he finds warranted.
25) Aid for having the 2nd baby has been tripled.
26) Starting 2020, hundreds of domestic abuse victims will receive a one-time 150k aid package. Underage human trafficking victims to receive 250k.
27) Legal changes made my the government has allowed the banks to annual the loan penalty for 20,000 residents.
56 businesses received favorable tax conditions to invest 276bln with 4,440 new jobs.
28) 125,000 residents had their loan history "cleared".
29) 303 former inmates had 1.3bln in fees pardoned.
30) same as point 27 (it's called cheating)
31) 50% subsidy for farmers who want to build small/medium "smart" animal facilities. 70% subsidy for bordering farmers.
32) Breeding cattle buyers get a low 2% interest rate payment option. Bordering farmers or cooperatives get a 0% interest rate.
33) Farmers can get a 0-2% interest rate while installing and irrigating new gardens. The government can subsidy up to 50% of total costs.
34) By late 2017, 5.9% of the products produced by farmers went unpaid for. In 2018, that number was only 0.7%.
35) 290 entrepreneurs received business classes in provinces. As a result, 120 of them opened businesses. 56 received government aid for it. Financial literacy classes are added to 360 schools by 3100 teachers. All schools in Armenia are set to implement hands-on technology classes mixed with business entrepreneurship.
36) 3.8bln "special money" was invested in provinces to help increase the development levels. 10bln to be spent on 2019. No such fund existed on 2017. (this is the thing he promised to do after recovering some embezzlement funds last year)
37) Provincial local budgets rose by 2bln on Q1 of 2019, vs Q1 of 2018.
Profit by high electric grid went from 1.3bln to 3.3bln, 2017 vs 2018.
38) Armenian programmers can now sell their apps on Google Play.
The list of types of tech firms that receive tax waivers has expanded. QP is working on a bill to wave taxes on electric car imports.
39) $10.5mln grant was received to launch the Engineering City in Yerevan.
23% rise in the number of tech firms 2017 vs 2018.
28% rise in the "programming and services" economic circulation ($730mln on 2018).
27% rise in tech employment. Almost 20,000 people work in IT.
40) 20 contracts were signed between universities and businesses so the students can get hands-on experience and later find a job easily. These businesses are helping the schools to build labs with the necessary equipment.
41) 168mln in 2018 and 352mln in 2019 was spent on creating robot-making labs in schools. 263 robotmaker clubs with 6800 members exist. That's 2500 more students than on 2017.
42) A law was passed that'll require the real mining owners to be revealed. They won't be able to hide in offshore, says Pashinyan.
43) 13,7bln in unpaid traffic debt was pardoned for 150,000 residents. Half a million fewer tickets were issued through the use of traffic cameras. (Pashinyan has long complained that the cameras were being used for money collection and not traffic safety)
Streets with 35mph or slower speed no longer have speeding cameras. The police is sending significantly more warnings to drivers caught with a violation, through electronic means. The number of warnings rose from 84k to 221k. These are essentially tickets that they don't receive, but receive a warning instead.
44) More students qualify for student loans due to changes.
45) Soldiers have an ability to restructure their loans to reduce the interest by 10%, and have the payment deadline increased.
46) A new IRS system will allow businesses to use their bank account funds and only freeze the money they owe to IRS. In past, entire accounts were frozen.
47) European Investment bank and Armenian Central bank invested $50mln on granting loans to small and medium businesses in some areas in 2018 October.
48) A consumer protection law was passed that'll require loan advertisers to more clearly and with big letters reveal what the real interest rate is.
49) People get a free or 250k subsidized heart surgeries. Higher quality materials are being used.
50) 85 lives have been saved since this February through stroke surgeries, which are now free.
51) 230,000 residents have access to 18 more types of healthcare, all free of charge.
52) Fully free dental care for disabled, under 7, under 18 low incomes, military age (or approaching military age) men. The dental care used to be only partially subsidized.
53) Cancer surgeries are now free. It appears that 15 types of cancer drugs are also free for children(?).
54) New state-run medical aviation has been established. Helicopter is quickly transporting patients in need of urgent care.
55) In 2018, more work was done to build the 3rd electric grid network between Armenia- Iran, than in the past 12 years combined.
56) 2018 saw the road work jobs exceed the plan by 60%. 200km roads repaired. 62km were crucially important for 23,000 provincial residents .
2019 will see 300km repairs, 58km of which crucially important. It'll be the largest project in a decade.
57) 555km water, 37km sewage pipes were built for 55 cities and villages.
116 hydros and other water reservoirs now have water meters to measure their consumption. 372 water abuse cases investigated, in 2017 there were only 15 investigations. Some water from Ararat Valley has been saved.
58) 350 gas stations were required to installed toilets, which is good for tourism. Speaking of which, it rose by 11% in 2018.
59) 1.8bln spent on purchasing 94 agricultural machines for 18 settlements.
60) 17 new preschools built.
61) Tuition subsidy raised from 30% to 50% for those who were in the army during the April Battles. Those with 2 or more kids get education for free. This last one existed in past as well, but it was done differently. Gov used to give money to some local foundations, which would [probably steal some of it then] give it to students. The middleman is gone. As a result, university salaried also rose.
With the joint financing by Galust Gyulbenkian charity, 294 Syrian-Armenian students received 50% tuition subsidy for 2018-19 year.
62) High school funding rose by 1bln. Their teachers' salaries won't be reduced as a result of structural changed done before 2018. Some teachers already saw their salaries increased this year.
63) Political favoritism is being removed from schools. They aren't being told whom to vote for through organized campaigns anymore.
64) 380,000 students and 35,000 teachers have 3 annual allowances to visit cultural buildings free of charge. Philharmonic students visit schools and give music lessons as part of a new pilot program. 13,000 annual free tickets for students for commercial music concerts.
50 artists that win a competition, receive the ability to travel around and present their art in schools.
65) 2018 saw a record number of book sales in the country. Libraries across the country received unprecedented 25,000 new titles.
66) In 2018 there were 20,229 private entrepreneurs, 5,500 more than in 2017. LLCs rose by 1694, reaching 6137.
67) The government debt was reduced by 2.3% percent point. The GDP/debt ratio is 51.4%.
68) They ended the excessive practice of political/friend motivated appointments to embassy positions around the world.
69) Moved up 19 positions in global press freedom index in 2018. In other ratings, Armenia went from Partially Free to Free zone. Armenia is one of 19 countries where internet freedom rose significantly. The Economist media chose Armenia as the country of the year.
70) 6 position improvement in the ease-of-doing-business index. Armenia is at 41st place. Fitch Rating improved the financial index from stable to positive. 13 position improvement in global happiness index.
71) Criminal charges were pressed against a former president, deputy PM, defense minister, chief of general staff, nature protection minister, compulsory enforcement chief (Panamaboy), and others. The courts were free enough to reject the pre-trial detention in some cases.
Current administration's two deputy ministers, SOC chief and other officials are also charged.
Pashinyan referred to it as unprecedented.
72) Free and democratic elections in provinces and Yerevan.
First female city mayor ever (Ejmiatsin).
First ever elections that went unchallenged.
First ever public debate between all party leaders, live on TV. Public's trust in electoral system restored.
73) Systemic corruption is defeated. Oligarchy no longer has the ability to force government to make favorable decisions.
74) The law applies equally to everyone. The courts are free from government's orders.
75) There are no political prisoners in Armenia.
76) Parliament and presidential buildings have opened the garden doors for the public.
77) Government sessions are open and broadcasted. Shortly before the revolution, the previous administration wanted to pass a law to make it closed doors.
78) The number of Ministries will be slashed. They're also remove the position of 1st deputy Prime Minister as they said they would, years ago. (Tigran Avinyan is gone lol)
79) The opposition now has the right to send its delegates to Public Services Regulatory Commission and the State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition. It'll soon become a law.
80) 15,313 more people arrived to Armenia than left in 2018, first in 12 years. Number of Armenians seeking asylum in Europe down by 3x.
2019Q1 shows 2,535 more people traveled to Armenia than left. 3,000 illegal immigrants left the country after the government took explanatory actions. (this part needs a clarification because another report suggested the population was reduced by 3,000 so far this year)
81) 2019Q1 saw a 5% rise in marriages and 17% reduction in divorces. Says he doesn't want to take a direct credit for this one.
82) The fight against monopolies. Some of their market shares went from 95% to 78%, 57% to 38%, 43% to 29%, 51% to 29%.
83) 1,248 fewer prison inmates this year vs 2018. Mass amnesty was granted. Parole system was implemented. Family has twice as much time to communicate with inmates. They plan to make more changes to allow 3-day long շպիլի-վիլի visits once every 2 months. Skype calls for families who live remotely.
84) 121,000 more visits to cultural centers in 2018 vs 2017. Cultural buildings are being protected better now.
85) Lowest murder rate since 1980.
86) Bank account assets rose by 16%. Other bank metrics also show two-digit growth.
87) Government-subsidized programs have resulted in youth buying more homes. Lowering the interest rate for young home-buyers to 5.5% resulted in mortgages going up by more than twice. Overall mortgage loan usage up 20%, while avg interest rates are down by 1.3%.
Property prices went up by 10%, in Yerevan center by 17%.
88) Nature Protection Ministry gave free burning material to low income people living near forests, to discourage illegal tree cutting. 20bln in joint funding with foreign donors is spent on energy efficient heating system installations in residential areas near forests. Some entrepreneurs in these provincial regions have received funding for establishing businesses. Other similar pro-business investments elsewhere.
89) Progress in EU-Armenia agreement. 205 various improvement projects to be taken once fully ratified. Ratified by 14 countries now.
90) The World Bank approved a $500mln cooperation plan for 2019-2022. Another $250mln one with International Monetary Fund.
91) Prime Minister's car fleet stops at the red light unless they are running late from an important meeting.
The Prime Minister went and was questioned by a court. Pashinyan says it's unprecedented.
92) The first ever joint session of the Security Councils of Armenia and Artsakh took place, during which they reaffirmed the fact that Artsakh must have a decisive word during the peace negotiations.
93) The creation of a new voluntary database of qualified workers has allowed his administration to hire non-political party affiliated people to high ranking positions.
94) 239 fewer padavat service cars in the government and Parliament. They are going to be sold. More cuts will come.
95) Twice as many individuals have filed income papers with IRS in 2018 vs 2017. He thanked famous singers for coming forward and announcing that they've filed their taxes. (IRS earlier reminded non-paycheck workers that they should pay taxes too)
96) 1,446 corruption and tax avoidance busts in the past year. 89bln in damages. 32bln recovered. 7bln assets frozen. [some cases are still being investigated]
1,345 cases of violations by public officials, 3x as many as in 2017.
Corruption busts up by 127%.
97) The government is returning illegally leased lands back to public. (Operate cafes, etc)
98) Armenian humanitarian workers are saving lives in Syria.
99) State has issued funds to aid grandmaster Levon Aronyan, and will renovate sport center named after Arthur Aleksanyan.
100) Prime Minister's family tries to buy only clothing Made in Armenia. Pashinyan held the press conference in Armenian clothes.
Bonus: Ordinary citizens and journalists can freely contact the PM through social media and IRL to ask questions.
Pashinyan: Before the revolution, the previous regime's NSS had purposely destroyed evidence regarding some cases. The new NSS has been investigating it for the past couple of years. He isn't aware of what exactly was destroyed.
Pashinyan dispersed the rumors that the NSS is purposely and unfairly investigating the (former) SOC chief David Sanasaryan. Says NSS chief (who is his subordinate and reports directly to him) offered him twice to move the case to Special Investigative Service (SIS) to answer these political concerns, but a political decision was made that NSS will continue to investigate the case, unless SIS must do it for legal reasons. Says the NSS did not brief him about the actual details of the case, for legal reasons.
Pashinyan denied rumors spread by the former Georgian president Mikail Saakashvili, alleging he was offered a $270mln bribe in a suitcase by HHK during the April revolution, to end the resistance.
He spoke about a sexual education book that stirred things up recently. Some people called it an attempt to pervert the youth. Pashinyan says he read the criticized parts and doesn't think there is anything wrong with the book. Says porno sites or backyard gazeebos shouldn't be the go-to place for the youth to learn about their bodies.
To satisfy LHK's demand, Pashinyan has publicly refuted the claims that LHK is supporting terrorism or making terrorist's job easier. Earlier he sarcastically joked that maybe LHK wants terrorists to know sensitive security data, after LHK proposed a law to publish the security equipment purchases data.
Pashinyan took a swipe at Kocharyan, saying that some of the projects that Kocharyan bragged as large foreign investments during his presidency, later turned out to be Roboserj members using offshore firms to launder the money they stole.
Pashinyan says Armenia should move away from relying on mining industry. Lydian Armenia's environmental problems have resulted in investment reduction by the firm, thus negatively affecting on the overall investment digits. On the other hand, other areas of the industry are growing, says Pashinyan.
The US and Armenia have signed two agreements to increase the US aid by $16mln. It'll be used for improving the economy and democracy.
UN-led body will issue a grant to the Armenian government for "green" purposes. By the end of the year, the government could swap its work cars with electric ones.
Education Minister says they are working on a plan to establish a (separate) minimum wage for teachers' salaries. Their wages will be calculated and increased based on the new formula in the future.
Yerevan mayor Hayk Marutyan has criticized municipality's opposition for "empty populism" and making it appear there has been no progress, even though only several months have passed since the work has begun on areas that were improperly managed for years, says Marutyan. (garbage collection, transport)
He also criticized them for their commentary on the salary raise for 1,700 municipality workers (7,000 residents). Says this was never about him receiving more money, and that he not only hasn't been receiving salary bonuses, but he announced that his future salary raise would go towards a charity.
In the end, Marutyan indefinitely suspended the salary raise plans due to internal opposition. Earlier, some QP members asked for more time to discuss and make a decision.
Pashinyan says one of the former Roboserj officials has 250 real estate buildings in Yerevan center, some of which used to be kindergartens.
The persecutors are examining 5 kindergarten privatization cases, some of which were done by former HHK minister Gagik Beglaryan. These are felony investigations.
Jrahovit mayor is facing felony charges for allegedly hiring his relatives as employees who never went to work but received 3.2mln salaries between 2011-2018. Several resident testified against the mayor.
The Parliament has voted 79-41 to approve the changes to cut the number of Ministries. BHK and LHK voted against.
Slovakia becomes the 14th state to ratify the EU-Armenia Comprehensive cooperation agreement http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/160882
Konstantin Orbelyan was appointed as the director of Opera by the former Culture Ministry illegally, concludes the Justice Ministry examination, after Pashinyan sent the new Culture Ministry's findings for re-examination. Some of the new Culture's findings about Orbelyan were found to be inaccurate, however. There will be more examination.
Few months ago we learned that Opera director was fired due to several laws being broken during his appointment, and him having insufficient time for doing director's work due to simultaneously traveling for concerts.
In the past 2 days, 2 anti-Roboserj political figures had their Facebook accounts suspended after what they call a deliberate campaign to silence them. One of the analysts accused unnamed anti-Pashinyan political alliance being behind the social media attacks. It is unclear what the official reason for the suspension is.
Rob wants to come back and join the political fight against Pashinyan. He says soon there will be an alliance between anti-Pashinyan forces.
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/bmcrcv/anticorruption_news_may82019_its_been_a_year_what/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|