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Nikol Pashinyan: “The new system of social assistance should help people overcome poverty”


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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held a consultative meeting to discuss the new concept for providing social assistance to vulnerable citizens.

Touching upon the concept, Nikol Pashinyan noted:
“I want to say a few words about this work. Why did this topic arise and appear on our agenda? It is very important to emphasize the strategic and ideological goal that we set as the basis for the system reform initiative. My assessment, which is perhaps a political one, is that the applicable vulnerability assessment system was actually aimed at preserving or maintaining poverty. After all, what problem do we solve by giving people welfare benefits? In fact, we tell them to be poor and vulnerable as we say: look, if you happen to get a cow and milk, we will deprive you of your benefit; you should not seek a job, because if we find out that you are working and get paid we will strike you off the list.

The ideological transformation that we propose to implement is as follows: we want the system to help people overcome poverty, and not to remain poor. Now the question may arise: why should the system want the poor to remain poor? There is a very specific reason. This implied that a poor person was prone to take 5,000, 10,000 drams, go and vote for the forces and candidates who give them these 5,000 or 10,000 drams. Why are we interested in having a person in poverty overcome poverty? For a very simple reason: because we say that power in the Republic of Armenia should be formed exclusively through the people’s free will.

We have repeatedly stated that we consider poverty and its effects to be one of the main obstacles to not only the economic development, but also to the institutional development of democracy in Armenia. And it is crucial for us to highlight the ultimate goal. We want to help a poor and desperate person to become a worthy and proud citizen that can earn his living and prosperity through labor.”

Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Zaruhi Batoyan said that the working group set up in February, 2019 on the orders of the Prime Minister did some work during the year and developed recommendations, in particular, on the principles of evaluating and providing financial assistance.

The proposed changes are expected to make the vulnerability assessment criteria more objective, automatic and targeted. Task force members noted that the new system for assessing social insecurity and social assistance will seek to meet four social needs: material security, health care, education and housing conditions.

The new concept proposes to move from the current assessment of social insecurity based on the need for consumption to an assessment based on income or a minimum guaranteed income. The meeting discussed the methodology developed for this purpose, and an analysis of scenarios of its implications and expected results. The new income-based vulnerability assessment methodology takes note of different factors, such as family employment, demographic potential, minimum consumer basket, informal economy, etc.

Prime Minister Pashinyan urged the stakeholders to follow up the debate and expand the working group’s terms of reference in order to discuss options for incorporating health and education components as well.

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