2019 November 19
Anti-Corruption & News TLDRs - Nov/19/2019 :: Minimum wage increase _ Consumer basket :: Small business = No tax :: Luxury property tax :: NSS vs Police :: SOC vs Water union :: Thieve-in-law :: EAEU tariffs _ Russia _ Nzhdeh :: Stats :: Qatar visa :: Mel Daluzyan :: Renewable energy :: Education
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.
After lengthy deliberations, the Parliament has unanimously approved govt's bill to raise the minimum wage from 55k to 68k.
Beginning Jan-2020, 57,000 govt workers and 130,000 private workers, who currently earn minimum, will see a raise.
80,000 people will see a 24% salary raise.
For the first time since independence, all workers in Armenia will earn more than the minimum "consumer basket", which is 63k at the moment.
1,500 businesses were surveyed. 70% gave a positive response to the change.
The govt has to watch out for the gray economy because some businesses could avoid paying taxes by paying the rest of the salary raise under the table, says an expert.
Simultaneously, small businesses with less than 24mln annual turnover will become exempt from taxation.
Police has busted the admins of Syunik Water Association. Report says:
Between 2017-2019, the admins delivered water to farmers without installing meters, and instead calculated it by hectares. This resulted in a 60% water loss (someone probably used more and paid less). The amount of loss was covered up, and 58mln in losses was placed on the shoulders of other water users through fee hikes.
Another 57mln was embezzled through bogus contracts. Documents were purged to cover up.
Felony investigation continues.
Italy 9:1 Armenia
Germany to Brazil: hi
Italy to Armenia: hello
Newly appointed coach after the defeat: today's fiasco reflects the current state of Armenian soccer. Most of the regular team players didn't play due to various reasons, we were playing with replacement players. If the HFF administration wants, I can resign tomorrow. But if they want me to stay, I'll make radical changes.
Armenia finishes the Euro tournament in 5th place in the group. Italy and Finland proceed.
Parliament is discussing the govt's proposed bill to criminalize the criminal "thieve-in-law" subculture. Speaker Mirzoyan asked Justice Ministry about Georgia's experience.
Georgia earlier passed a similar bill and sentenced several people. One case has reached the European Court for Human Rights, which sided with the authorities. More stats will be received from Georgia soon.
The Parliament approved the draft version of the bill, 70-10-9. BHK appears to be against it. QP criticized BHK MP Vardan Kgukasyan for glorifying the thieve-in-laws earlier. LHK remained neutral, saying they have some concerns about the draft bill.
If the bill is passed, it'll be a felony to:
1) Organize criminal gangs
2) Encourage others to join it.
3) Be a regular member of such a gang.
4) Commit an illegal act as part of such a gang.
5) Be a "thieve-in-law", which is a title given only to people who must have committed a crime to earn that title.
6) Seeking "services" from such criminal gangs.
Those who quit the gang on time and help the police to make busts, will avoid charges.
Those who commit the crime while holding an office, or being a soldier, or involving a child in the gang, will receive a harsher sentence. Up to 20 years in some cases.
Justice Ministry presented more details to describe what a "thieve-in'law" definition is and who can be charged.
The draft bill still needs another vote to pass.
The NSS has arrested the chief of Tumanyan Police Department Lernik Gigoloyan. They'll release details soon.
Update: The Parliament has elected the board members of a Corruption Prevention committee. Each of the following bodies appointed one member: Govt, QP, LHK, BHK, Supreme Court.
70% of Armenian families cannot afford to have an annual vacation trip.
55% do not have a $90 worth rainy-day fund.
51% households aren't properly heated in winter.
42% cannot afford a car.
40% cannot afford to eat meat or fish once every 2 days.
20% have housing issues.
Almost 100% households have smartphones, TVs, and other common appliances.
Overall, 40% of Armenians are missing "something important". In Bulgaria it's 32%, in Romania 24%, in Greece 22%, in EU 8%.
EAEU trade rules will cause a price hike for 900 products due to a new tariff products which are imported from non-EAEU countries. The price hike is around 5% for some products.
Tariffs on (non-EAEU) rice imports to go from 3% to 6%. Mainly affects imports from Thailand, Pakistan, India, USA. However, Vietnam is cooperating with EAEU. They plan to sell Armenia 250 tons of rice for 0% tariff through "internal EAEU" trade.
Sunflower oil tariff from 13% to 15%. Affects Cyprus, France, Italy. Imports from Ukraine won't be taxed due to a free trade.
Dairy and butter product tariff goes from 13% to 15%. Affects Georgia and EU.
Tariffs for poultry goes from 22% to 25%. Affects US, Brazil, Ukraine, Belgium. In 2015 the tariff on poultry was 10% but it was gradually increased.
Frozen cattle meat tariff up a few points, to reach 15%. Mainly affects Italy, Brazil, India.
more in the link
Pashinyan met journalists from major Russian media outlets.
Journalist: is it possible to create a joint historian team to investigate the historical details surrounding Garegin Nzhdeh to address the concerns that some Russians have?
Pashinyan: Nzhdeh and USSR hero Marshal Baghramyan fought together against the Turks during the May battles, which led to our independence in 1918. They did everything to defend Armenia. It would be strange for us to create a history committee with Russia to learn about our own history. The topic of Nzhdeh is never discussed during official Russia-Armenia meetings. Only Azerbaijan brings it up.
Russian lang https://youtu.be/msudy11m8c8?t=35
Russian Parliament official Zatulin: Azerbaijan should recognize the Karabakh independence, and Karabakh should return 5 regions to Azerbaijan. The other 2 regions connect Armenia to Karabakh. The reason both countries aren't willing to compromise right now is because of "extreme nationalists" with maximalist demands.
Update: President Sarkissian went to Qatar.
They opened an Armenian embassy in Qatar. Sarkissian met his "old friend" emir Tamim. They spoke about mutual cooperation, possibility of Armenian students studying in Doha, etc.
Qatar has decided to cancel the visa requirement for Armenian visitors.
The Tourism Committee received extra funding from the budget, and will use it to launch a campaign to promote winter tourism, mainly in Gyumri.
Ads will run in Russia, China and Georgia. It won't be all about skiing, the Christmas & New Year's festivities will also be promoted.
Tourism rose 14.4% in Jan-Sep of 2019v2018. Russian tourists are the largest base. EU, US, Iran and China are growing.
The story around the transgender weightlifter Mel Daluzyan continues.
A group of admins representing various sports institutes condemned Daluzyan (multi-Euro champion and world medals) because she took a drug and got disqualified recently.
They blamed Daluzyan for causing Armenia to only have 1 male and 1 female weightlifter in the 2020 Tokyo games.
In reality, the way the system works is a country has "20 slots". If you have 19 athletes who get caught with doping, only 1 of your athletes will qualify for the upcoming tournament.
Mel Daluzyan was the 19th such Armenian athlete who was accused of taking doping, since 2008. To blame her for Armenia having only 1 female athlete in Tokyo, is misleading. (BTW Daluzyan isn't officially on the list of doping-takers)
What is hypocritical is that 3 of the people who signed the letter blaming Daluzyan for the 2020 throttle, were themselves caught with taking doping, and are part of the problem, says FIP outlet. (noice)
The group also criticized the govt (Education Ministry) for ordering the movie to be created. This is false, the govt didn't order it, and subsidized it only partially, says FIP outlet.
The group urged everyone to find "better athletes" to promote and support.
Two new wind farms to be built in Armenia near Sevan. They'll join two other wind farms that were built in past. A Spanish firm is involved.
USAID: "Renewable energy could become an alternative to imports of natural gas for Armenia"
The construction of the 3rd, 270km long Iran-Armenia high-voltage power grid will finish in 2021. Construction begun in 2006, and regained a momentum after April-2018.
The total capacity will go from 350MW to 1200MW once completed.
Small solar power farms with a combined 350MW will be built by 2024. Solar will provide 10% of Armenia's electricity by 2024. (needs a fact check). The regulators awarded licenses to several businesses this year.
Another Kocharyan & Co trial happened today. They asked the judge to remove the prosecutor for alleged violations. The court rejected the defense's demands.
Protester Vardges Gaspari was obviously there. He was carried away.
1Q19 vs 1Q18 industry rose 1.6%
2Q19 vs 2Q18 industry rose 12.1%
3Q19 vs 3Q18 industry rose 19.1%.
Mining sector is also doing well.
The share of each section of the industry, 2019 vs 2018:
Processing industry: 67.7% (share is up)
Mining industry: 18% (share is down)
Electricity industry: 13% (share is down)
Education Minister Arayik Harutyunyan earlier said that as part of the upcoming reforms, students would no longer need to give university admission exams. Here is how it could work:
The student gives an exam in school. While in past it was done in the school at the presence of the teacher, with lots of cheating and help involved, now the students (already in many cases) give the exam at a large exam facility properly monitored by "strangers".
These new exam grades are supposed to be more fair and reflective to student's knowledge. Ministry plans to look at 6 of these regular exams, and decide whether the student has enough points to enter a university.
Alternatively, the student has the right to take the regular admission exams at the university.
SOC audited the Aparan municipality for the 2016-2019 fiscal year and found dozens of instances of mismanagement and abuse reaching hundreds of millions in damages.
Parliament has passed the bill to reform the Cadastre property price assessment system. Luxury house owners will pay more in property tax, the tax system will be simplified, property prices will be recalculated (former regime purposely kept the prices outdated to pay less taxes on their luxury properties).
BHK voted against it. 77-12-2.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/dyq7gx/anticorruption_news_tldrs_nov192019_minimum_wage/
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