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“We will eradicate corruption, and let no one question our determination” -PM refers to high-profile corruption disclosures


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A Cabinet meeting was held today, chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Prior to discussing the agenda issues, the Premier touched on yesterday’s arrest of Urban Development Committee Chairman Vahagn Vermishyan.

“Yesterday Urban Development Committee Chairman Vahagn Vermichian was arrested on corruption charges. I mean, it is at the same time sad, offensive, but joyous event on the one hand. It is sad because a public official can reach out for a dirty business under the flag of the Republic of Armenia, in the name of the people of the Republic of Armenia. It is offensive that an official acting under the flag and the emblem of the Republic of Armenia can ask someone for a $5,000 bribe to help him obtain the title of Honorary Builder, and then can ask the Prime Minister to grant said title of Honorary Builder. It is a personal offense to me, it is an offense to the people of the Republic of Armenia, and it is an offense to the values enshrined in the motto of the Velvet Revolution of 2018. I do not know how my statement will be perceived, but I think that the person who has offended these people should be held responsible. This is a joyous event in the sense that if there is anyone in the Republic of Armenia who doubts our will and determination to eradicate corruption, I hope these people have already realized that the situation is much more serious than they can imagine," the Head of Government said.

The Premier next touched upon the high-profile case of smuggling revealed at Bavra customs checkpoint last night involving several customs officers: “These people imported or helped import goods without customs clearance. That is, cars just drove in through the customs border. And my reaction is the same: I am amazed at the logic of these people, because it seems that these people do not watch TV, do not keep track of latest news on social networks, or they do not get the news at all. Mistaken are those who think that we are here to say one thing in front of cameras and do something different in our offices. And I want to repeat that we will eradicate corruption in the Republic of Armenia, and let no one question our determination. All those who doubt, I think, will reap the bitter fruits of such mistrust.”

The Government amended the decision of July 19, 2018 “On Approval of State Program for Support of Financial Lease of Farm Machinery” in anticipation of the proposed transition to mandatory slaughterhouse operations. In order to expand the network of slaughterhouses, it is planned to provide state support to business entities. As a result, the number of slaughterhouse service providers benefiting from the program will increase. According to Minister of Economy Tigran Khachatryan, it is planned to fund three types of activities: mobile slaughterhouses, construction of modular slaughterhouses, as well as transport costs for transporting meat purchased from a slaughterhouse service provider.

The meeting next approved a package of draft laws on amending the laws “On Administrative Territorial Division of the Republic of Armenia” and “On Local Self-Government.”

The bills provide a legal basis for the process of community enlargement. The bill on amending the law “On Administrative Territorial Division of the Republic of Armenia” suggests implementing two consolidation programs affecting Lermontovo community in Lori Marz, and Idjevan community in Tavush Marz of Armenia. The amended law “On Local Self-Government” provides that elections of heads and members of councils of elders shall be held in the aforementioned communities on June 14, 2020.

Touching upon the issue of community enlargement, Nikol Pashinyan noted: “This process was suspended not only due to surveys, but also because we clearly stated that there will be no enlargement without the consent of community residents. And we talked about strengthening the institution of a local referendum. Following the discussions held on this political thesis, the following question arose: why do we insist on a referendum after all if we can see that holding a referendum is a serious burden for the community budget, while there can be a case when there is no objection to enlargement? That is, it turns out that even in the absence of any objections we are eventually forcing communities to spend its own resources to get an obvious answer. And therefore we decided to follow a slightly different path; namely, once we announce the government’s intention to carry out an enlargement process, citizens in those communities where there are objections can themselves initiate a referendum. If after a referendum it is de jure recorded that the community, the majority of the residents of the community are against enlargement, we will take their opinion into account, and as we have already stated, we will refrain from implementing the planned enlargement.”

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