2019 September 16
Anti-Corruption & News - Sep/16/2019 :: 100 reforms & achievements :: Economy stats :: Welfare recipient # drop :: NSS boss ragequit :: Govt launches offense :: Parliament vs Serj's judge :: Parliament bills :: Journalists ask... :: March 1st :: Car tariffs ::
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.
NSS boss Arthur Vanetsyan is out. He either quit or was fired. Vanetsyan says he quit. Pashinyan said he held a conversation with Vanetsyan, followed by the resignation. Pashinyan won't comment on national security apparatus details. He signed the decree. Says Vanetsyan will continue to serve as Soccer Federation boss.
Minutes later Vanetsyan said he submitted a resignation. Spoke about the busts done by NSS in past year. He complained about political decisions and priorities by the government, and labeled his resignation as a protest against something he disagrees with.
President Sarkissian finalized the resignation.
PM's spokesman criticized Vanetsyan's resignation text, saying the way it is written gives the impression that it's influenced or altered by certain corrupt circles.
THIS WINTER IS GOING TO BE HOT, BOYS.
Parliament approved a draft bill to declare NSS and Police chief's position as a "political" position. This will mandate their bosses to go through the same qualification process done for many other politicians.
LHK proposed this bill saying that the current law requires new bosses to be picked from inside the "system". If NSS is directly reporting to PM, the latter and the Parliament should have more flexibility in whom to appoint, says LHK.
Parliament passed a BHK bill requiring local officials to respond to MP's questions within 10 days.
Parliament Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan has criticized the Constitutional Court and said the Parliament has to launch a discussion about their work.
He criticized the fact that the Court entirely refused to hear the arguments by one of Court members that 3 other court members had a conflict of interest and should not have been allowed to participate in the Kocharyan hearing.
Another Court member wrote that he thinks the court rushed while making the verdict. Mirzoyan thinks the verdict could have been different if the Court didn't rush the hearing.
Mirzoyan says the court's verdict was not in-line with the Court's opinion held in the past decade. The Court failed to provide a written explanation as to why they asked Venice Committee and ECHR for a special opinion on the law.
Mirzoyan then directly criticized the court chief Hrayr Tovmasyan, accusing him, being a HHK MP at the time of appointment and a co-sponsor of the new Constitution, of playing shenanigans to appropriate the court powers by making favorable rule for himself and giving himself a lifetime of power.
Mirzoyan: the Parliament has to adopt an official statement in regards to this issue.
Pashinyan welcomed the speech by Mirzoyan, saying that many lawyers have the opinion that the Constitutional Court made illegal moves.
Pashinyan: we all know who the Court chief is and how he became to power. 2-3 of them have a direct connection to March 1st events and it's unclear why they didn't recuse themselves from the Kocharyan hearing. Constitutional Court continues to act against the public and has enabled election rigging in past. They think they can continue to damage the public interests to protect corruption. Parliament has to give its legal opinion on the matter.
QP held a party meeting. They decided to initiate a Parliamentary proceeding to ask the Constitutional Court to terminate Hrayr Tovmasyan. The reason is the violation of some rules by Tovmasyan. QP says he violated Constitutional Court rules by ignoring the petition by one of the judges who asked the Court to hear whether 3 other judges should recuse themselves due to conflict of interest. [This judge himself wasn't allowed to participate in Kocharyan hearing due to conflict of interest.]
If 3/5th of MPs approve the disciplinary measure, the Parliament will send a note to the Constitutional Court and ask them to terminate Tovmasyan. For that to happen, 6 out of 9 court members must approve it.
ARF came out in defense of Hrayr Tovmasyan. They criticized QP for trying to "appropriate all the power".
Details on how the legal procedures work. Parliament holds hearing > judge comes to Parliament and defends himself > Parliament votes > sends note to court > court holds hearing > yes/no
HHK held a meeting with Venice Committee members. The Committee will soon give a special non-binding opinion on whether the law 300.1 Kocharyan is charged with can be applied against him or not.
There were two things the Constitutional Court was supposed to hear. The law about keeping Kocharyan locked up (already reviewed) and the more serious 300.1 law that could put Kocharyan behind bars (yet to be decided).
Pashinyan: in March 1st the army brought soldiers, stationed them under residential balconies, and instructed them to shoot towards people. They were paid with oligarch money. The March 1st investigator then swapped the bullet shells with shells fired by other weapons to cover up the real shooters. He is currently hiding from law enforcement. As for the actual murderers, they will hopefully be identified, but a lot of work has been done since March 1st to cover things up, so it'll take time to solve the case.
(Earlier numerous witnesses pointed to the bullet holes on their apartment building walls and said the forces were shooting towards people who gathered in their balconies with the intention to convince them to go inside and not witness the events. This was shortly before the protesters were shot.)
Journo: what do you think about the Istanbul convention?
Pashinyan: "HHK are gay activists. They signed the Istanbul convention, and now they're trying to blame the govt of gay rights activism."
Journo: why not hold a referendum on Amulsar and Istanbul topic?
Pashinyan: before we hold one, we must make sure the public isn't mislead on the topic. If people are told that a mine is about to collapse and radiate harmful materials, while it's obviously false as confirmed by the recent earthquake, we can't expect fair results.
As for Istanbul Convention, the former regime has weaponized 90% of media outlets to spread propaganda. Holding a referendum under these conditions isn't the right move.
news.am journo: when and under what circumstances will you resign? A certain situation has developed in the country.
Pashinyan: why do you ask? I'll let you know if the time arrives.
The govt drafted a bill to publicize some banking information through a court order. Pashinyan says it'll help to expose corruption and bring back the money stolen by the former regime.
Those who are loudly criticizing this bill are the same people who plundered the country for years and gave it to their family members, so now they're afraid of the truth coming out, says PM.
There will be two Anti-Corruption bodies. One will be tasked with finding the wealth owned by officials and judges, while the other will audit judicial candidates to see if they qualify.
Pashinyan: Serj's relative Michael Minasyan has recently become publicly active because he "sensed" that the law enforcement is reviewing his privatization of a (unknown) strategically important structure in Lori province. There is a criminal investigation. He should return to Armenia and answer the SIS questions. The govt spent 2 months finding a justification for the privatization of such a structure, but couldn't find one.
Pashinyan: Minasyan was and is the owner of many things in Armenia, often registered under other people's names. He uses the businesses to fund their media outlets. We'll use legal measures to recover what's stolen, without violating property rights.
Journo: why isn't Serj in jail yet?
Pashinyan: a German colleague told me that Armenia is in the same situation as Germany after its unification. At the time, Germans complained that they wanted "justice" but instead they received a "rule of law". We decided to choose the rule of law. Some people associate revenge with justice. Two of Serj brothers and 4 nephews are currently charged with crimes.
Pashinyan: I hope the public won't allow themselves to be manipulated on the Amulsar issue, even by people whom I consider friends. The govt acts transparently on the mining issue. There is a court order to open Amulsar roads. If there was a need to close it, your govt would make sure it was closed.
He criticized some environmental activists of giving wrong info on another mine Teghut and its structural safety with an intention of shutting it down. "Instead of apologizing for misleading the public, they'll probably begin to claim that Pashinyan family defends Teghut because they own shares in it," complained Pashinyan. [Environmental activist group earlier accused Pashinyan of purposely sponsoring Lydian miner.]
"To authorize or block Amulsar mining we need to get the facts."
Pashinyan: we're against the blanket demonization of all mining. It's against our national interests and security. In the time of war, Armenia will need influx of foreign funds. Tourism won't help because tourism will drop. Agriculture is the second source of foreign funds but it'll be harmed because it'll also suffer negatively. The third and remaining source is mining. If we shut down mining, thousands will lose jobs as well.
Pashinyan: if Azerbaijan only views Artsakh issue from the point of their territorial integrity, then we'll simply declare "Artsakh is Armenia. Period."
Pashinyan lists 100 facts about the new Armenia:
- 6.8% economic growth this year so far. Industry up 8.4%. Construction 4.5%. Trade up 8.9%. Services up 15.2%. Salaries up 5.9%.
- 1H19, 25% more taxes were collected. Unprecedented growth.
- 65k newly registered jobs, vast majority of whom are middle earners.
- The 1k military fee payments rose 10%, or by 347mln in 1H19vs18.
- 76 million more sales receipts printed this year so far. 39% growth. This resulted in 208bln worth more sales becoming visible to IRS, a 21% growth in monetary traffic.
- 1Hvs1H. The top 1,000 largest taxpayers paid 511bln vs 446bln. Fuel business Flesh (Serj friend owned) paid 58% more taxes. Ucom taxes up 26%. Natali Farm (former HHK MP) 37%. SPAYKA (Serj linked) paid 117% more. SAS Supermarket (paid election bribes to help HHK) paid 82% more taxes. Max Petrol up 122%. Zangezur copper mine up 20%. Gazprom up 10%. Electric Grid up 20%.
- 25k more active taxpayers registered as businesses. A 14% growth.
- Moody's increased Armenia financial rating based on stable economic performance.
- 1Hvs1H. Tourism grew, especially from countries where people have money. Cash spent by tourists increased by $200mln.
- 1Hvs1H. Hotel stays by tourists is up 60%. Tourism industry paid up to 53% more taxes.
- Armenia has seen an increase of 5 positions in international tourism rating index. 79th place atm.
- 3% increase in exports. Tech exports 41%. Jewelry 58%, etc.
- Greenhouse farm sizes rose 48%. Efficient irrigation by drip irrigation system rose 56%. The size of farms protected by anti-hail nets has doubled. etc.
- 90% more rise in mortgage loans.
- 17% rise in real estate transactions. Highest growth came from provinces.
- $120mln reduction in foreign debt, or 2.1%.
- Internationally held reserves rose by $230mln, reaching $2.3bln. Highest since 2013.
- Shadowy economy is on decline. This year we expect another decline at size of 3% of GDP. This allows us to increase spending on salaries a d pay debts. կունենանք ՀՆԱ-ում ստվերային տնտեսության ավելի քան 3 տոկոսային կետով կրճատում
- Consumer product price increase is low and most importantly manageable. It's 1.9%. Most Armenians now prefer to hold their funds in Dram instead of Dollar.
- Tax laws. Businesses won't pay turnover tax unless they make 115mln, instead of the previous 58mln threshold. No taxes if earn <24mln/year. Taxes went from 20% to 1% if a car owner buys two cars and decides to sell one in the same year. Administrative fees removed for small taxi drivers. A road tax was removed for big trucks. No income tax for property transactions between two individuals. A 23% flat tax, which will effectively give 200,000 workers a raise. Profit tax down from 20% to 18%.
- 113 tech startups received special conditions. 20% of them are owned by diaspora repatriates. They'll create 1,200 jobs by 2022 with 500k salary. These folks don't pay profit tax, while the employee taxes will be 10% instead of 23%.
- Dozens of firms received a temporary tax waiver. Hundreds of billions in investments, thousands of jobs. Double digit growth in these numbers.
- $117 million injection into the economic circulation by paying back over-collected fees to 2300 businesses which they would normally not receive.
- Hundreds of entrepreneurs took govt funded business lessons. They qualify for 5mln favorable loans.
- Mortgage loan interest reduced by 0.2%, is currently avg 10.4% (WTF?). Interests for farmers down 0.7%. Consumer loan interest down 0.3%.
- 23bln subsidized infrastructure plans in provinces. 234km road repairs. 58 settlements to have new or repaired water pipes. Irrigation systems in 37. Dozens of others to have other types of structures.
- Car customs duty center moving from Yerevan to Gyumri. 181mln spent.
- 330km road repairs by the end of year in provinces only.
- New initiative to celebrate Independence Day in a new city every year from now on.
- Ejmiatsin city, govt and French donor solved the public transport issue in Ejmiatsin. New buses.
- Defense budget up 26% this year.
- 2.1bln spent on improving soldiers' front-line living conditions and installing running water (35% of them will have). 5% increase in number of positions using solar energy. 10% rise in weapons and cameras at the hands of soldiers. Position improvements in 5 border regions.
- Military industry expenditure to rise 114% in 2020.
- 6 private firms delivering good food to soldiers.
- Contract soldier salaries rise 4-32%, depending on position and rank.
- Mandatory conscript soldiers also to receive a minor hike, first one in a long time.
- Effective 0% interest rate on mortgage for army officers.
- Improved medical and sanitary conditions in the army. Sick cases down 13%. 22% fewer days lost due to sickness.
- 15% more army conscripts recruited this summer.
- Pativ Unem military program duration, which gives many benefits, is reduced from 3yr to 2y3m.
- For paid soldiers, time spent on dangerous front will count as double while calculating seniority.
- Humanitarian aid to Syria has provided medical aid to 4870 people. 95,000m2 land cleared of mines.
- 38k teachers got 10% raise since this September. In July, some energy sector workers saw a 15% raise. Firefighters and rescuers to get raise this October.
- January 2020, all pensions to rise 10%. Minimum pension will also rise.
- 2x increase in aid to survivors of Nazi camps and vets.
- 2.9bln aid to Artsakh so they can help officers with housing.
- Job finding agency contacted 12,000 businesses and registered 7,500 vacant job positions. 5,900 unemployed people were helped to find jobs. 66% of them were women. 2% had disabilities. Seasonal farmers won't lose their govt aid anymore if they decide to work and earn extra money.
- March 1st victims and family to receive up to 30mln aid each.
- Dozens of army officers got free apartments.
- Billions spend to give hundreds of 1988 quake survivor families a housing. 6x more spent than before.
- Hundreds of poor families were given new apartments and moved out of dangerous buildings.
- Thousands of children of killed of wounded soldiers are given free vacation packages.
- 80,000 workers to receive a raise when govt increases the minimum wage from 55k to 68k.
- Teghut mine resumed operations and gave jobs to 940 workers. More hirings soon.
- Yerevan-run kindergarten salaries up 20%. 1,000 more kids can go to kindergarten because the city returned some formerly illegally appropriated lands.
- Corruption in hospitals is reduced. 14% more visible business. Avg salary up 17%.
- 400 types of drugs become free for 200,000 people. Diabetes, heart, stroke meds, etc.
- Hospital care becomes free for anyone under 18. This year they resumed free dental care for all under 7 or low income <18. A 2.4x rise in cancer surgeries after it became free.
- 300,000 people now qualify for free heart surgery. List was expanded. 32% more heart patient lives saved after subsidizing it.
- For those who don't qualify for free heart surgery, their fees is reduced from 1.1mln to 800k. Lowest ever. Patients don't have to travel to Georgia anymore.
- Vanadzor hospital has new fancy tech. They do cardiology and radiology work.
- 523mln given for schools to buy gym equipment. That's more than what was spent in the past 6 years combined.
- 36 new kindergartens launched this year. 162 schools being repaired.
- 834mln spent on building engineering labs in 283 schools.
- 1bln spent on Interdisciplinary Data Center.
- 13,000 first-class goers registered for school via the new online system. This resulted in 50% reduction of schools that either had too many or too few students.
- Kids' backpacks are half the weight because they decided to split books.
- Education ministry works with businesses. New subjects are taught with the help of businesses to help province students learn relevant skills.
- 31% rise in museum attendance.
- 41% rise in theater attendance.
- 8 small soccer fields already built in provinces. 51 by the end of this year.
- Nature protection inspectors found 882 violations in mines and forests this year. 227 sent to law enforcement. Hundreds have received fines. 1.6bln damages to state identified.
- 157mln paid by some miners as a special fine. 204 written warnings.
- Govt increased penalties for illegal deforestation. 4mln fine or up to 8yr in prison.
- High tech is being used to monitor forests. Stepanavan Park has noise systems that catch electric sawing.
- 53mln m3 less water drained out of Sevan lake. 17mln more poured into Sevan through Arpa. Lake level is 3cm higher now.
- Work was done on 13 wells in Ararat Valley, which resulted in savings of 880 liter/second clean water.
- Double-digit income growth in Yerevan budget revenues. Hundreds of illegal land contracts signed in past have been discovered. City is returning property to public.
- Yerevan created its own garbage collection agency. Dozens more garbage and snow trucks will arrive. Largest such operation in 30 years. 600 people hired so far.
- 500mln grants dedicated to ActiveCitizen.am website run by Yerevan. Citizens submit project ideas.
- More emergency 911 crews in Yerevan and provinces. Calls to be answered faster. 90mln to repair stations. First such repair in 30 years. 13 clinics to have electronic patient registration.
- Yerevan no longer mass-kills stray dogs. They lose reproductive abilities. Some get adopted.
- 28 Yerevan streets have energy efficient lighting. Some wires are transferred underground.
- Prosecutors doing more busts and recovering more funds.
- Facebook users fed up with unlawful drivers have uploaded 178 videos this year, allowing police to write 85 tickets.
- 3.8bln saved while giving away pensions. This is a result of corruption reduction.
- Cadastre Committee has 60% fewer work cars. 66% less spend on fuel. They'll return 25% of their entire budget due to various savings.
- This administration has more female officials.
- Reforms in Supreme Court Council (not constitutional). Transparency changes. Their rep will be present during Parliament sessions to help while passing some laws.
- www.azdararir.am let's you anonymously report corruption. 104 reports so far. 23% ended with a felony case being launched.
- Fight against the criminal subculture of thieve-in-laws. Thrives to go to jail if they admit to being crime bosses.
- Cell phone service fees reduced by as much as 3/4th for communication between Armenia and Artsakh.
- Armenia is making sure elections are fair in Artsakh by funding monitoring.
- Large gathering in Artsakh. PM gives the 2050 vision speech.
- Veteran Leonid Azgaldyan received a hero title. He coined the term Արցախը Հայաստան է և վերջ
- Large drop in people leaving the country.
- 25mln Euro more aid from EU after talks.
- That Accelerator tech thing in the Institute of Physics is finally put to work after 17 years of qashqshuk. It analyzes things for medic purposes.
- 51 equipment are purchased to help monitor the newly laid asphalt quality.
- Hundreds of kids from border villages were given opportunity to party hard.
The number of registered welfare recipients is reducing.
EAEU trade bloc rules will impose new tariffs on imported cars beginning 2020. VAT and import tariffs will be calculated together. There will be an environmental tax as well. The % will depend on how old the car is, and the size of the engine.
If the car was made in the past 3 years and is worth <8,400 Euros, the tax will be 54%. However, the engine size is also taken into account. Another number will be calculated based on engine volume. 2.5 Euros multiplied by X cubic-centimeter engine volume = some number. Whichever of these numbers is higher, will be your final tax.
If the car is older than 3 years. Tax = 3.5 Euros multiplied by engine volume + an environmental tax.
The recently resigned acting rector of Economics university is accused of illegally wasting money on salaries, including some for his friends.
BBC-Russia wrote an extensive report on the alleged internal issues that have been brewing for years between the Armenian church in Russia and the local Armenian communities.
Church responded saying the report is wrong and they'll pray for the journalists who wrote it.
The govt wrote a law that could soon establish a points-based penalties for drivers. Instead of getting away with just fines, drivers will lose the license if caught misbehaving with a total of 9-points worth offenses in each year. Research shows that if this law was in place in 2017, about 6% of drivers would lose their licenses.
Throw your plastic bottles in these newly installed recycle bins
11,000 people participated in cleanup operations on the shores of Lake Sevan. Gegharquniq governor says this will become an annual tradition after the swimming season ends. On Sunday, they held the first "Eco Fish Fest" fish festival on the Sevan peninsula, joined by PM.
Meanwhile, Artsakh held the honey festival. President Sahakyan called beekeeping a perspective business in Artsakh.
Yerevan held a fruits, sweets and veggies festival. Farmers from Armenia, Georgia, Artsakh and elsewhere were present.
97KG Greco-Roman wrestler Arthur Alexanyan defeated athletes from Belarus, Finland, Turkey, Iran, Georgia and made it to finals, where he'll fight against the acting world champion from Russia. He got an injury so he could skip. He has already secured a ticket to Tokio-2020 Olympics.
63KG Slavik Galstyan won bronze after defeating Azeri, Uzbek and Iranian athletes. He lost the decisive match to ոմն Armenian Stepan Maryanyan representing Russia.
Henrikh Miki played his first match for Roma. Scored a goal in 22nd minute. he was declared as the player of the match.
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/d56h4b/anticorruption_news_sep162019_100_reforms/
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