Nikol Pashinyan: “We will have to get down in earnest to implementing large-scale reforms in the near future”
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A Cabinet meeting was held today, chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Before proceeding to the agenda, the Prime Minister made a statement: “I feel that the so-called period of adaptation is over for our government, and we will have to get down in earnest to implementing large-scale reforms in the near future, which in turn will add momentum to reforms and trigger a new tide of economic and political development in Armenia. I think we need to state the methodology of reforms, considering Armenia’s political realities.
In general, it is a common practice to say that reforms are a painful process. I think that we should give up this logic, since the algorithm of our reforms should consist in a broad dialogue with the public and the agreement on individual reforms, since I believe that if we ourselves have sufficient arguments for a reform, therefore, the same arguments should be provided to the public, all our motivations and cause-effect relations should be presented to it in detail.
I am confident that such actions and reforms will be more effective. In the end, let us not forget that an absolutely new system of governance has been established in Armenia, which we call direct democracy as it is called historically. We must carry out actions based on the logic of this system. I think that starting next week we can start a dialogue with the public about changes in the Tax Code.
We will hold this dialogue in different volumes, in different formats, and our task will be to form public support, public understanding and public perception of the proposed models. This is not just about tax reforms. We need to carry out large-scale reforms; the reforms should not be hasty and dictated from above.
They should be directly and organically associated with our national interests, our challenges and the tasks set by the non-violent, velvet popular revolution in Armenia. I think we all should in this sense announce the beginning of a new stage of our work, and I wish all of us professionalism, wisdom, intelligence and, of course, success in this work.”
A free economic zone (FEZ) will be set up in Hrazdan town of Kotayk Marz of Armenia to stimulate foreign direct investment, increase the country’s investment attractiveness, create export-oriented products in the field of high and information technologies, provide new jobs and promote sustainable economic development. The government made a decision to that effect.
The Executive approved the government’s legislative initiative on a package of draft laws on amending the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia, amending the Criminal Procedure Code of the Republic of Armenia and on amending the Code of the Republic of Armenia on Administrative Offenses.
The reference note says that the criminalization of those acts provided for in Art. 40.10 of the Code of the Republic of Armenia on Administrative Offenses, the definition of appropriate sanctions for such offenses, and the application of tougher penalties for a number of other acts will not only provide punishment adequate to the level of public danger of the crime, but will also effectively prevent such actions. In addition, the adoption of the legislative proposal suggests that unscrupulous candidates and parties will be deprived of the opportunity of disguising the distribution of electoral bribes under the cover of charity and, thereby, facing softer sanctions. The proposed amendment will help significantly improve discipline and the atmosphere of legitimacy in polling stations. Moreover, an opportunity will be created to more effectively investigate election-related offenses and bring offenders to justice, and these goals will be achieved in a shorter time and with minimal public expenditure. The package of amendments will go a long way toward increasing public confidence in elections and reducing the number of crimes and offenses in the electoral process, leading to the formation of constitutional order through elections to democratic standards.
With reference to the legislative initiative, Nikol Pashinyan noted: “I think that we will not make a significant step forward, but we will reach the maximum where there is no room to move ahead: we must definitely rule out such phenomena. In this regard, the Yerevan city council elections will come as a very important exam for us, and we must take it with “excellence.”
The submitted package of bills, suggests in particular criminalizing the actions provided for in Art. 40.10 of the Code of the Republic of Armenia on Administrative Offenses defining as punishment for them not only a fine, but also imprisonment for a certain period. Along with the criminalization of the administrative offense, it is proposed to provide for an exception in the article’s disposition, according to which the distribution of goods containing the name and / or symbols of the party or the name and / or image of the candidate and not exceeding a reasonable amount is not considered a crime.
In connection with the above, Prime Minister Pashinyan addressed Minister of Justice Artak Zeynalyan: “Your formulation states that it is prohibited to distribute money, food, securities, goods, except for goods containing a name or symbol or name, the name of the candidate or the image of the candidate and whose value does not exceed three times the minimum wage. Considering our “historical” experience, 3000 drams is enough to distribute lavash or jam or a bag of flour with the symbol of the party, or put 3000 drams in a bag with the symbol of the party and hand it out. This formulation at least may give rise to misinterpretations, so the borderlines here need to be clearly formulated. Let us not underestimate the creativity of those behind electoral frauds, Mr. Zeynalyan. In my opinion, it is necessary to note clearly: a pen, a booklet, a cap, a T-shirt, etc., because I read this formulation several times and could not see why the aforementioned products might not be distributed according to the same logic.”
During the exchange of views that followed, different speakers came up with a number of proposals and recommendations. The Prime Minister instructed the Minister of Justice to discuss once again the issues raised in the working order. “The bill will be discussed in the National Assembly, in the relevant commission and in the plenary session in two readings, and it is necessary to do ensure that everything is clear here, and there is no room for discrepancies and uncertainties,” Nikol Pashinyan said.
The Government made changes to the decision taken earlier: considering the huge number of events to be held on the occasion of the 17th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of La Francophonie due this October 7-12 in Armenia, as well as the need to hold them at the proper level and in a timely manner, it was decided to mark the Yerevan Day not on September 29-30 as decided earlier, but after the Summit - on October 20-21.
The Government made a decision “On donation of the ambulances, auxiliary equipment and spare parts provided to the Government of the Republic of Armenia by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.” Nikol Pashinyan thanked the Chinese government for such important and necessary support: “I think that this assistance once again highlights the high level of Armenian-Chinese relations. I am convinced that the ongoing cooperation, as well as the trade and economic relations between Armenia and China will significantly improve in the near future.”