PM: “Our goal is to create new jobs by stimulating capital expenditures”
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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held consultations on capital expenditures to be implemented in education, energy and road construction, as well as on completing the long-standing credit-funded projects.
The Prime Minister first addressed the situation with the spread of coronavirus, and then the government’s steps to implement capital programs. “Unfortunately, the coronavirus epidemic is spreading all over the world. Currently, 1 million 119 thousand cases of coronavirus infection, 59 thousand 245 deaths and 229 thousand 338 cases of recovery are registered in the world,” the Premier said, noting that there are 770 infected cases and 7 deaths registered at this point of time in Armenia. Nikol Pashinyan said that 43 people have recovered in our country, 720 are being treated, but most of them - more than 500 people - actually do not receive treatment, because they do not even have a high temperature.
“The coronavirus epidemic has led to economic and social complications worldwide, and the biggest challenge for Governments is to make the necessary decisions and implement appropriate policies. Of course, we have already adopted 9 anti-crisis measures, 5 of which are purely social in nature and 4 are aimed at supporting the economy, but we also understand that these measures cannot be a panacea for all problems. And, unfortunately, we cannot say that at the moment we have been able to identify all citizens who need support in these conditions. Of course, we will continue to develop measures, we work on a daily basis. In fact, the work of the government has turned into the activities of the anti-crisis operational headquarters, but on the whole it is important to fix our common perception of overcoming socio-economic difficulties.
Today we are focusing on the solution - from the moment when its solution becomes possible in the epidemic plan - of the next problem: job creation. We know that very serious changes will occur in the labor market due to the effects of coronavirus, and the government should help create new jobs.
What is the instrument through which the government can promote this process - job creation? In our opinion, it is first of all an efficient realization of capital expenditures and their possible increase. And today, in fact, the government's work is divided into two main parts. The first part, of course, is the activities of the Commandant's Office, which is tasked with tasks that are, in fact, sometimes contradictory: the first task is to prevent or control the further spread of infection, and the second task is to create conditions for more and more institutions and enterprises to be able to work and more space for economic activity, which, of course, should not lead to a new outbreak of the epidemic. We all understand that this is a difficult task. This is also why the government declared a state of emergency and made some changes to the legal regime of the state of emergency in order to make the solution of this problem more realistic,” the Prime Minister said.
According to Head of the Government, the second direction of the executive power is the formulation, development and implementation of measures of social and economic support, stimulation of capital expenditures. The Prime Minister reminded that the ministers, heads of departments are responsible for promoting capital expenditures in specific directions: “Under-fulfilling capital expenditures has been a common practice in Armenia for many years, but in the new realities, I mean amid the epidemic, the effective implementation of capital expenditures, the increase of their volume and coverage becomes extremely important as we believe that each incomplete capital expenditure affects the wellbeing of specific people and families. Therefore, our task in the economic sphere is to create new jobs by fostering capital expenditure, which will lead to the creation of a new system, new jobs and enterprises. This should be a priority for the Government as it is to overcome the economic crisis. We are working on a daily basis. These are the main areas of our work, and we must do everything possible to make these two areas effective, since they are interconnected. The effectiveness of one, of course, will increase the efficiency of the other,” the Premier said.
Stressing the need to discuss the pace of credit-funded projects, Nikol Pashinyan noted that currently there are USD 1.3 billion-worth borrowed funds to be invested in the Republic of Armenia. The Premier noted that the Government should do its best to make those expenses effective not only in economic, but also in social terms, so that new jobs could be generated in the country.
“We have set ourselves the task of optimizing the portfolio of expenditures. Through proper planning we can attract new funds and implement new programs that will help expand our economic potential and create new jobs. However, we should note that the emergency lockdown has been extended for a period of 10 days that expire next Sunday. We are sure that the more strictly we observe the restrictive regime during this period, the faster we will return to normal life. And I want to urge all citizens of our country to observe the restrictions established by the Commandant’s Office as strictly as possible. Of course, I once again apologize for the restrictions that we are simply bound by duty to apply. Otherwise, we will jeopardize the health of our citizens. This is an exceptional period, which calls for maximum concentration on social cohesion, mutual respect and understanding. This is just the prerequisite that will help us overcome this crisis as soon as possible,” the Prime Minister underscored.
Then the responsible persons in the spheres touched upon the implementation of the above-mentioned programs. In particular, it was informed that 75-80% of expenses have already been implemented since last year within the Education Improvement credit program, repair and replenishment of a number of secondary schools with new inventory is carried out within the program. Work is being done under the same program to set up physics, chemistry and biology labs at high schools and higher education institutions.
Then the program of building 22 modular schools in different communities, the work on introducing a distance learning tool in regional educational institutions was touched upon. The responsible government officials reported progress in implementing capital projects in other areas, including the design of sports halls and other infrastructure projects.
With regard to the ongoing energy-related programs, the meeting reviewed progress in implementing Armenia-Georgia, Iran-Armenia high-voltage power transmission lines and the Power Supply Reliability Program, as well as the construction of Hakhtanak, Charentsavan-3, Vanadzor-1 and Zovuni substations. Reference was made to the Energy System Financial Recovery Program.
Those responsible for the road construction projects provided information on the construction progress of the Ashtarak-Talin, Talin-Lanzhik, Lanzhik-Gyumri, Agarak-Kajaran sections of the North-South highway, including regarding construction, design and organization of tenders.
They also reported on the ongoing Road Construction Program of vital importance, the Vanadzor-Alaverdi-Georgia border highway, as well as ongoing work on the reconstruction and repair of Yerevan roads.
Prime Minister Pashinyan told those responsible to announce construction tenders under the above programs as soon as possible and to ensure their timely implementation.