PM Nikol Pashinyan: “The government should encourage neither poverty nor gambling”
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A Cabinet meeting was held today, chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Before proceeding to the agenda, the Premier made the following statement: “You can see the gift offered by the Police of the Republic of Armenia to the Government, namely an Armenian-French phrase-book published ahead of the 17th summit of La Francophonie International Organization to be held in Yerevan. It is a landmark event, and a good opportunity to increase the number of languages we know. I consider that the Armenian citizens should speak a few foreign languages in the new Armenia. The Summit is a good occasion for us to take another step in that direction.”
The Government discussed and approved a proposal on amending the RA laws On Lotteries, and On Offline and Online Gambling and Casinos. Thus, the Government shares the concerns of the authors of the package of amendments, highlighting the need for the proposed regulation of relations and presents a number of recommendations
Touching upon the legislative package, Prime Minister Pashinyan said: “Numerous concerns are being voiced that the package has not been discussed fairly enough with the field representatives. It seems to be obvious that at this stage the draft needs additional discussion and amendments. We face serious problems in this area that need tackling.” The Head of Government further noted that the discussion should continue so that “we could make sure that the proposed amendments pursue such goals as are logical and acceptable for everyone.”
The draft specifies that betting and automated gambling activities can only be organized within the administrative borders of Tsaghkadzor community (Kotayk Marz), Sevan community (Gegharkunik Marz), Jermuk community (Vayots Dzor Marz), and Meghri community (Syunik Marz).
In view of the above, Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan noted that it would lead to considerable reduction in the number of jobs. “The bill affects a few thousand people. I think we need to be careful about this issue, since we have to understand which way we are going to proceed. I agree that the package is pretty good, but it should be implemented step-by-step and very carefully.”
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that a balanced solution should be given to the problem. “It is obvious that those incomprehensible devices installed at gas stations are the cause of a major problem not only in rural communities. It is a serious problem, and they just need to be removed. It is crucial to organize this process carefully so that the problem is solved in a comprehensive manner. Looking at the economic growth indicators, we can see that these gaming and gambling machines have become the leading branch of our economy. This is absurd, and we should seek to change the trend which, on the one hand, leads to poverty, and on the other hand, encourages gambling. The government should encourage neither poverty nor gambling,” the Head of Government said, adding that open, transparent and public discussions are needed in order to rule out any subjective factor and quickly solve the problem.
The Prime Minister underscored that the structure of the economy is at stake, in general. “If it is true that gambling plays a role in our economy, a significant role in our economic growth and economic activity, then it is a very serious problem in a country with 30% of poverty index.
This issue has been taken up during our walking tours, and what is interesting, it has also been raised by people engaged in gambling who say: we see gambling machines over there and it is a temptation.
This is a challenge in all respects, and even if we take some financial and economic risks, we need to deal with it. Today’s economic pattern is as follows: agrarian, non-technological, intensive agriculture, gambling, and mining. This economic structure can in no way be beneficial to us. We want our economy to have the following structure: high-tech manufacturing, information technology, light industry, processing agriculture, food production, etc., that is, we have to take very serious steps to make this change happen. We may face some financial and economic difficulties on the way to this change, but we have to push ahead, otherwise it will turn out we are just putting up with the stagnation which as you may understand, is impossible. We definitely must take these steps,” Nikol Pashinyan pointed out.
The meeting approved the Government’s legislative initiative on amending the laws On Identification Cards and On RA Citizen’s Passport. The proposed amendments imply extending the deadline for issuance of old-type passports, setting it at January 1, 2020 instead of January 1, 2019. The amendment seeks to ensure unimpeded provision of citizens’ passports and identity documents pending the full functionality of the new supplier of biometric passports.