2020 January 26
Jan/26/2020 :: What has changed in Armenia under Pashinyan? :: 100 facts about New Armenia :: Daily news collection, stay informed about the Anti-Corruption busts, Politics, Economy, Diaspora, Daily Life, and more...
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.
100 changes in Armenia - continuation from last year
During his now-traditional press conference, PM Pashinyan brought 100 facts about the New Armenia. He said:
1) Tax revenues +505bln in 2018/19. They returned 200bln to taxpayers (inject). As a result, in 2018 govt owed 275bln to taxpayers, while only 76bln in 2020.
2) GDP +7.5% in 3 quarters, highest in EU/EAEU/CIS. Higher than 2018/17 by 1.3%/1.6.
3) Planned capital expenditures in 2020 are +30%/90/21 versus 2019/18/17.
In 2020 there will be 102bln additional such expenditure, reaching 4.1% of GDP, significantly higher than in the past. The capital expenditure for 2020 is 288bln.
For the first time in history, Armenia won't take loans to support the budget. Any external loan will be about specific causes, approved by Parliament.
4) Social services +11%/18/20 vs 2019/18/17.
5) Budget's financing for economic activities (տնտեսական հարաբերություններին) is +47%/74/51 compared to 2019/18/17.
Financing for housing +27%/96/82 vs 2019/18/17.
6) Road repair financing in 2020 is +91%/104/64 vs 2019/18/17.
North-South highway project spending +2.4x (2.4 times) vs 2019. For Gyumri road repairs +3x vs 2019.
7) 3bln to be spent for the 1989 earthquake survivors, which is 6x. 453 families will get homes. In the past, it was 45 families per year.
8) 227 quake survivor families got 1.3bln in vouchers to buy housing, in 2019.
9) Defense spending +28% (+307bln) vs 2018, or +4.5% vs 2017.
An unprecedented amount of equipment, weapons, jets, TOR units, artillery, rifles, ammo. These are new weapons, and not heavily used in the 1980s.
10) Foreign investment inflow in Jan-Sep 2019 was $2.174bln. That's up 28%/41 vs 2018/17.
Foreign direct investments were $454mln or +18% vs 2018.
11) In 2019 govt had 57 investment programs totaling 212bln in priority areas of the economy. 3,320 new jobs are expected.
12) Foreign reserves were $2.849bln by the end of 2019, that's up 26%/23 vs 2018/17.
Central Bank purchased $565mln and didn't sell, which is unprecedented and indicates financial stability.
13) $500mln Eurobonds were printed. Armenia pays less interest because the % for new bonds were 3.95% while the old re-purchased bonds were 6%. This saves us $10mln/year. (Pashinyan running his Ponzi scheme on a global scale now)
14) 81,534 newly registered jobs since the revolution. The share of high paying jobs is up.
15) The employed population share was 49.3%/46.8/46.3 for 2019/18/17. Unemployment is down.
16) IRS-visible sales receipts +38%, trade turnover +22%.
17) 230 high-tech firms (30 from the diaspora) got tax waivers in 2019. 1200 new jobs.
18) Tourism +14.4% as of Jan-Sep 2019v2018.
In the 3 quarters, tourism from Russia +76%, Germany 2.2x, France 2.3x, Italy 63%, Netherlands 99%, Iran 13%, Georgia 12%, Canada 44%, Ukraine 32%.
Internal tourism +46%.
19) 4,319,618 people visited Armenia in 2019. That's +27% since 2017. In 2019, 10.5k more people arrived than left.
20) Various international reputable media outlets recommended travel to Armenia.
21) Exports in 3 quarters +9%. Imports +6.6%. Armenia will have its customs agent in Upper Lars border entry point.
22) Govt approved the investment project for small/medium greenhouse farms. This will help farmers to spend less and get more money from their yield. Govt will subsidize 33% (50% for bordering regions) of building costs.
23) In 2019 govt issued 8,000 agricultural loans worth 32bln at 0%-5% interest. The number of recepients is +73% vs 2018, while the loan amount is +61%. (big if true).
24) Improved the subsidy and loan program for high-tech agriculture and vineyard. 50% money-back for building 0.5ha-10ha sized gardens. 0%-2% interest rate for a loan.
25) Smart Barn program began for farmers. Govt covers 50% of barn building cost. 70% for disabled veterans or bordering residents.
26) Launched the cattle breeding subsidy program. >500 cattle purchased at 0%-2% interest.
27) The farming equipment subsidy program. Hundreds of tractors and other equipment worth 1.7bln were given. 1.7x more recipients. 2% interest for loans.
28) Exports of apple +32%, cherry 35, grapefruit 96, mulberry/fig 86, strawyerry/raspberry 172, the sour cherry 27, tomato 23, cucumber 266, cauliflower/broccoli 45, radish 58, shrooms 148, pepper 47, eggplant 657 (thicc), watermelon 50.
2019 was a unique year with no emergencies during grape collection and storing.
29) After 1-year negotiations with Iran, govt got a permit to export cattle through Iranian territory (presumably land?). Farmers won't have to pay a fortune to fly their cattle to deliver to Iran, Kuwait or Qatar anymore.
30) Launched a farming insurance pilot program. 30,000 ha lands in 6 provinces will be insured. Govt will pay 50% of the insurance premium, or 60% if it's against frost. (Press F to quit your job and become a farmer now)
31) Boosted small online trade by eliminating a 2250 Dram border Post Office searching tax.
32) Launched the One Window investment portal to help foreign investors learn the rules.
33) 460km roads built, repaired, subsidized. 350km was strategic. That's as much as 2015-2017 combined.
34) 16.3bln worth 462 subsidized programs for provincial infrastructure and welfare. 382 are done. 46 settlements had their water pipes renovated. 10bln to be spent in 2020.
35) Took steps to improve garbage collection in provinces. 220% more contracts signed vs 2017. 24 settlements received 1.2bln worth 44 pieces of equipment to clean up themselves.
36) Moved car border import registration service near Gyumri. 189k cars imported, 3x the 2018 (mostly for resale in other countries).
37) Poor population -2.2%, it's at 23.5% now, the lowest. The extremely pool population share went from 1.2% to 1%. The numbers are calculated by the World Bank's methodology used since 2009.
38) In 2020 there will be new programs for birth benefits, young families, families with kids.
Aid for having 1st child +6x, 2nd child 2x. Monthly child care subsidy from 18k to 26.5k, while in villages they will receive 53k (2x).
Preschools will have extended hours to help working parents.
After giving birth, govt will help the family to purchase a house in provinces with subsidies.
Kids can get medial health more easily without the need to present a special paper.
39) Minimum teacher wage for մեկ դրույք is now 108k. They can earn more depending on student count.
3.5x more spent on a program that subsidizes transport fees for teachers (3,000) and kids (1,000) who travel to get to school.
Govt expanded the group of provincial students who can receive housing rent aid while staying in Yerevan for education.
2,498 teachers were re-trained.
40) Govt will give a monthly pension (5k-25k) for 1 year to those students who make it to international olympiad finals.
45 students will be sent to a Silicon Valley university for tech and entrepreneurship education, at govt's expense.
41) 950 emergency crew workers got a 10% raise this month. Arts teachers' +25%, sports teachers +56%. This covers 5,000 workers.
42) Yerevan's budget revenues up 30%/56/48 vs 2019/18/17. It crossed the 100bln mark for the first time, reaching 107bln.
43) Mortgage boom issued by banks. There were 29k mortgages as of 2017, 33k as of 2018, 41k as of 2019 or +20%.
Mortgage portfolio balance +38%, totaling 393bln in 2019.
Commercial banks' mortgage sum increased by 99% in 2019 vs 2017.
As part of the program to help young families to get a mortgage, there was a 43% increase in issued funds in 2019 vs 2017.
Yerevan's construction is booming. 48% more permits vs 2017, or 76% vs 2018.
44) IRS refunds some money paid towards the mortgage. In 2019, 64% more people took advantage of this or +180% vs 2017. IRS's refunds went up 69%/227% vs 2018/17.
45) Emergency crew salaries went from 90k to 130k. 600 forest protectors got a 20% raise and new uniforms.
46) Mental health service workers' minimum salary +30% since 2020.
47) The minimum wage went from 55k to 68k/mo. 130,000 workers saw a ~20% raise.
In addition, 272,000 workers will see a salary raise in the form of paying fewer taxes due to the flat tax system. This keeps up to 4bln/mo in workers' pockets.
48) 1.9bln was given to help buy housing for 300 kids who graduated orphanages. They are added to the job-seeking list autoamtically and given a priority. This ensures the govt does something it was supposed to do since 2003.
49) In 2020 Yerevan will build an 18-floor apartment complex building. Residents of 3 dangerously unstable buildings will be relocated. The 3 dangerous buildings will be given to private investors who will build tall buildings in place. The city will then take some of those new apartments.
The same will be implemented for relocating lesser dangerous building residents in the future.
50) After 10 years of inaction, govt will give 1.5bln in housing aid to 112 refugee families who escaped Azerbaijan.
51) 1,000 low-income families who receive poverty aid will be given cattle so they can do their lil' business. They'll also receive food and veterinary service for free. Families won't lose their poverty aid for a year if they work and make money (an encouragement).
52) Govt will pay the utility bills for 63 lonely pensioners living in communal housing.
53) Govt expanded the years that are covered under the program that provides aid to families of fallen soldiers or soldiers who got wounded. The clock was reversed back 19 years to cover old incidents.
54) 80 veterans from bordering regions received housing aid, and houses, as part of 2 subsidy plans.
248 vets will receive housing soon. 150's case is being discussed. 49 families of fallen soldiers will receive housing.
55) Higher Qualification Committee approved 6 PhDs and 216 other degrees. This number is significantly down from previous years 46/317. (thanks, Nikol)
56) 1,230,000 people visited govt-observed museums. +18%/33 vs 2019/17.
14.6k visited during New Year's week. 11.9k purchased tickets, while 2.7k kids got free tickets.
57) A new tradition to end the year with classical music. The State Symphony Orchestra was full in the holidays. Theater attendance +25%
58) Govt increased funding for several Armenian cultural music groups by 700mln: Kamerayin Nvagakhumb, Jazz, Komitas qaryak, etc.
59) The lowest amount of water drainage from Lake Sevan in 5 years. Pulled 144mln m3 or 56mln less than in 2018, well below the legal limit.
A law was passed prohibiting govt from pulling more than the set limit without Parliament's permission unless they officially declare a drought.
60) Electricity consumption +5.8%. Solar electricity production +2.6x. Wind +2.1x.
61) Nature Ministry implemented a $2.5mln aid program to help poor families living near Khosrov and Dilijan Parks so they will less likely cut nearby trees illegally for economic reasons.
The program to plant 10mln trees in 2020 has begun. Companies are involved. They're obtaining mini-trees from Iran, Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.
For the first time, HayAntar forest protectors got 424mln to restore forests. 940 seasonal jobs.
62) Charcoal imports +500% vs 2017. The number of importing companies +22%.
Construction wood imports +77% vs 2017. The number of importing companies +51.
This shows a successful fight against illegal deforestation and people's reliance on legal materials and energy sources. Some monopolies lost market share.
63) 21k abandoned car skeletons collected from the streets and nature in late-2019. (Pashinyan's pet peeve whenever he's on cocaine.)
64) SIS recovered 7x more stolen money YoY. More than in the past 11 years combined. This is the hard cash alone, without counting asset freezings.
Tsakhkadzor's Golden Palace, which was built with embezzled then laundered cash, is now a state property and is placed on auction for 7.5bln. (Kocharyan has left the chat)
65) IRS's legal actions collected 60% more cash YoY or +90% vs 2017.
66) A child trafficking ring was uncovered involving foreigners adopting newborn kids. 2 Armenian workers are suspected of abducting >30 kids.
67) 543 people are facing felony charges for being registered as fake employees in various municipalities since 2018.
68) Starting Oct-2019 Nubarashen and Armavir prisons are getting higher quality food from private firms. This helps families because they don't have to buy and send decent food at their expense.
69) The points-based driving penalty system is implemented. The priority is no longer to get money from drivers. It'll help reduce violations.
70) MAGIC WAND! The gas and electricity delivery system reduced its waste associated with transfer losses. Numbers inside.
71) Military industry expenditure +30% in 2019.
72) 40 military barracks get high-quality food from private firms. Frontline soldiers also get honey, fat, garlic, and black pepper. Still working on boots and clothing quality improvements. This reduces the financial burden on families because they don't have to send food anymore.
For the first time, barracks are given extra "pocket change" every month to make sure the unforeseen costs are covered.
73) Unprecedented military training in late-2019. This increased our trust in the military and their capabilities.
74) US House and Senate recognized the Genocide. Partially due to diplomatic work.
75) Armenia was appointed to the UN board that oversees human rights protections until 2022. General Assembly's 144 countries picked Armenia.
UN unanimously adopted an Armenian resolution to declare July 20th as Chess Day.
76) Successfully presided over EAEU in 2019. Armenia invited Singapore, Ian, and Moldova to cooperate. Singapore signed a free trade agreement with EAEU.
77) World IT Congress held in Armenia. 2500 experts (plus Kardashian) from 70 countries, 20 country Ministries. World coverage.
$7mln products sold through tech booths in Qatar, Singapore, Uzbekistan.
78) Visa regime cancellation with China, Serbia, and Qatar. Sweden, Slovakia, Serbia, Netherland decided to open embassies.
79) Armenian soldiers continue their peacekeeping missions. Sappers cleared 124,000 m2 lands in Syria. 8,500 patients treated.
80) All-Armenia charity fund now attracts a lot more donors. (emphasis is on small donations from many people, instead of big donations from fewer people)
The number of donors: 3200/6000/9600 in 2017/2018/2019.
81) For the first time, several low-cost airlines entered the market in the same year because of law amendments. Routes went from 6-7 to 10 for now.
82) 29% fewer Armenians (2670) asked for asylum in EU or -47% vs 2017.
83) Fitch's rating increased Armenia's to BB- after a long pause. This means Armenia can borrow $ for less interest, and investors are more confident.
Moody's also increased the rating to Ba3.
International institutes revised their economic growth predictions for Armenia to increase it for 2020/2021. All while the world is doing badly.
84) Freedom House says Armenia shares the 8th place with France with internet freedom. Armenia is the leader in the region. (hasn't happened since Tigran Mets when he accidentally downloaded Syria)
85) "Time" outlet called Armenia the Tiger of Caucasus because of economic changes.
86) In Legatum institute's prosperity index Armenia jumped 7 positions to 61st place. Best result in a decade.
87) Gallup's law and order rating says Armenia is sharing the 7th place with Switzerland. In the "safety" index Armenia shares 11th place with Japan and some EU.
88) UN says world food prices went up 6% YoY. Armenia had a 0.3% decline in food and alcohol prices.
89) Changes made to who/how gets elected to high ranking offices. The head of the Anti-Corruption Committee was selected by the opposition. Cadastre Committee chief was picked from the job applicant reserve database.
90) Govt spent 271mln to ensure a high-quality New Year's celebration. Many went to Public Square.
20k people attended Pashinyan's speech in LA's grand park, the largest gathering for an Armenian leader's speech in the diaspora.
91) For the first time, the acting leader visited the Investigative Committee to testify/interrogated about a case.
92) Armenia bought 10 emergency vehicles for Artsakh. (🚒 incoming)
93) Lowest deaths in the military.
94) 1,000 largest taxpayers paid 13% more YoY. +32% vs 2017.
95) The first-ever "Modern Day Hero" ceremony held in Gyumri. The govt is promoting business-minded people by telling their success stories. 13 businesses received awards. This will happen every year.
96) 320 members of the judicial system received new computers to replace 2005 Pentium դռդռիկ-s.
97) My Step foundation and govt helped 1,000 border kids to visit Yerevan's museums and festivities during New Year. 2,800 visited since 2018.
98) The number of padavat cars used by officials is down 448. The lowest ever.
99) Surpassed Georgia with GDP per capita, and will surpass Azerbaijan this year.
100) 72bln additional money will be spent in 2020 to pay soldiers, rescuers, forest protectors, teachers, all minimum wage earners, pensions, aid. High ranking officials' budget is up 1bln.
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Tag #100facts 100changes PashinyanFacts WhatHasChanged
In other news...
On Saturday, Pashinyan gave a press conference during which he claimed Constitutional Court chief HHK Hrayr Tovmasyan tried to appease him and even made unethical offers to "manage things together" because Tovmasyan knows the inner workings of the Constitution since he wrote it.
Tovmasyan threatened to sue Pashinyan unless he provided evidence.
Pashinyan - now it appears sarcastically - said he would soon deal a massive and disproportionate blow by providing the evidence.
On Sunday he wrote a Facebook post with more detail. He said:
Below is a picture of Tovmasyan's pen (valued at 550 Euros, 290k). I've been thinking, should I throw it in the trash or to keep it? I decided to keep it as a reminder of the a**kissing (used a less profane language).
After being elected as PM, I first met Tovmasyan in May-2018 during an All-Armenia charity event. He was sitting next to me. His appeasing conduct was strange to me, especially since my actions (revolution) crushed his team a few days earlier.
He was referring to me exclusively as "Dear Mr. Pashinyan" (պարոն Փաշինյան ջան), "Dear Mr. PM". This continued for as long as we were communicating. Till this day his "ջան" words are ringing in my ears.
Then he remembered that he was a bride from Ijevan (where Pashinyan comes from).
I wanted to write something for my speech but couldn't find a pen. He offered me this elite pen (pic below). I wrote something and gave a speech. He wouldn't accept the pen back after I tried to return it: "It's your pen, please, take it, I insist." The interaction was becoming awkward publicly.
Long story short, this pen became the symbol of faithfulness and loyalty. Did I think at the time that this pen would later be used as a piece of "material evidence"?
Anyhow, attempts were made by various people to meet me. I rejected.
Then July 5th approached. I received pleas to participate in the reception
held in Constitutional Court. I rejected it several times because I knew that the man who occupied the Constitutional Court (Tovmasyan) was trying to win legitimacy with that move.
(Side note: This alleged event happened before Kocharyan was charged with a crime. This indicates that Tovmasyan had "issues" well before he was involved with Kocharyan's trial.)
Then we met during the 2019 Easter. He began to appease to (my wife) Anna by thanking her for granting his daughter an education pension. This crossed the line and I realized they didn't get the message. They truly didn't.
Then the person, who was recently mentioned, came to me and said that Tovmasyan is wondering why I'm not using his abilities since he is the one who wrote the Constitution.
I sent him to a far-far place.
Tovmasyan will sue Pashinyan for alleged defamation: https://factor.am/216909.html
This is the event during which when Tovmasyan gives the iconic pen to Pashinyan. The followup isn't in the video: https://www.facebook.com/100012906641219/videos/834346690338878/
The govt will create a new anti-corruption investigation agency, besides the recent creation of the Anti-Corruption Committee.
The new investigative agency will be tasked with doing something that is currently being done by several agencies: SIS/NSS/IC.
Practice and the international agencies advise that corruption investigations should be done by one agency to make it more efficient.
In 2009 the Lower court sentenced a Felon to life in prison for beating and killing someone in 2003.
The verdict was appealed in various courts but it was left intact, sometimes under the explanation that the Felon didn't file the appeal on time.
In 2011 the law that sentenced the Felon was changed. The court held a meeting about this and decided that the Felon should be punished by whatever the new law says. The Felon was given a harsher punishment.
Recently, the General Prosecutor reviewed this case and found this to be a critical error by the court. The Felon was only supposed to be sentenced for whatever was a crime at the time he committed the crime, but not by whatever was declared a crime at a later date.
Due to an Oct-2018 Constitutional Court precedence allowing such cases to be appealed, the General Prosecutor decided to take the case back to Appeals court.
A sad picture of an illegal budka waiting to be removed from Yerevan's Ajapnyan district. #BudkaGenocide
A documentary about how H&M, GAP, and other clothing brands use sub-contractor factories in Indonesia that, mildly speaking, don't care about poisoning nearby rivers and crops by dumping the unfiltered chemicals into rivers. On the other hand, some factories introduced a 12-stage filtering process to recycle the contaminants, while leaving the filtered waste-water in a drinkable form. This filtering process increased the price of their fabric by (only) 10%.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/euic1c/jan262020_what_has_changed_in_armenia_under/
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