PM: “We must all set the task of having a qualitatively new economy”
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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan today met with members of the Armenian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (Employers), who represent companies operating in various sectors of the economy.
The Premier noted that the meeting was meant to discuss the current economic situation in the country. “We must state with regret that we missed the rates of economic growth in 2019 and in the first quarter of 2020, and we need to discuss how we will curb the crisis. From the first days of the global pandemic, we like many countries faced a very difficult choice: health care was a priority on one side of the scale, on the other – the economy. The fact that about 70,000 jobs were cut in April was a signal to us that our policies need to be more balanced between the economy and healthcare. In fact, we decided to be guided by the epidemic situation, possibly by somewhat inadequate logic, and began to expand opportunities for certain types of economic activity,” the Prime Minister said.
Nikol Pashinyan noted with pleasure that most of the reduced jobs had already been restored in May. “Yesterday we summed up the statistics for June, and I can state that this trend continues, although we need to analyze and understand the statistics at our disposal, which indicates we boasted more jobs that in June 2020 as compared to June 2019, moreover, with an even larger payroll and higher average wages. We are trying to analyze what this is connected with. It is quite possible that this is partly due to our policy of reducing the shadow economy, but nevertheless, there are figures, especially the data of the State Revenue Committee, and these data are confirmed, there are specific reports, for all these jobs, salaries are paid and income tax reports are submitted,” the Prime Minister stressed.
Touching upon the situation with the coronavirus, the Prime Minister noted that in general it remains tense, but on the other hand, it is clear that the burden on the healthcare system is decreasing.
“In fact, we can give a cautious assessment that in healthcare terms we are entering the stage of overcoming the crisis, if we continue to comply with the prescribed safety rules. Why am I saying this? Because certain circles in Armenia continue to advocate actions aimed at expanding the epidemic, in particular, as regards the wearing of masks. It is obvious that this relaxation of tension is primarily the result of the introduction of the mask-related measure: there is no doubt about that. If we do not consistently continue this process - there is no doubt here either - we will have an increase in the incidence, especially since the example of other countries proves this. We see that countries that have not consistently introduced the requirement to wear masks, at least until recently, are now forced to make such a decision. We also did it forcibly, it is clear that it is unpleasant, it is not very pleasant to force our own citizens to wear masks, it is unpleasant for all of us that we are wearing masks, but, of course, we must take measures based on the situation,” the Prime Minister noted, stressing the need to take control of the coronavirus situation so that the government can shift to discussing the economic agenda.
“Because now two scales are taken into account: people’s health and the economy. We need to solve the problem of one of the bowls - coronavirus, and completely switch to the agenda of economic recovery, which, of course, is an important priority for our country. I want to emphasize once again that the economy first of all implies added value and budget receipts, which provide the security needs of our country, which was a priority for us, is a priority and will continue to be a priority. And, of course, we must work not only to simply overcome the economic crisis, but also must set the task of having an economy of a qualitatively new level and of a new type. In this regard, I would like to emphasize once again our concept of perceiving the crisis as an opportunity, in particular, to remind of the priority fixed in the program of our government to make Armenia a country of high-tech industry and an export-oriented economy, which is very important, too. Our discussion today should be about how we should cooperate to serve this agenda and make it a reality,” Prime Minister Pashinyan said.
Chairman of the Union of Industrialists and Businessmen (Employers) of Armenia Arsen Ghazaryan thanked the Prime Minister and added that the economy is currently entering the recovery stage owing to the Government’s anti-crisis measures. In particular, Arsen Ghazaryan stressed the importance of the programs for preserving jobs and supporting small businesses. “As a result, economic entities are now trying to maintain production volumes and move forward,” said the chairman of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Armenia, stressing the importance of the Government’s decision to provide interest-free loans to processing companies.
Then the entrepreneurs presented to the Prime Minister their concerns and questions, to which comprehensive answers were given. The businessmen stressed that over the past two years following the Velvet Revolution many positive changes have taken place in business and a number of important issues have been resolved. The meeting went on to discuss the problems faced in construction, industry, information technologies, agricultural processing, winemaking, market diversification, opportunities and options for their solution. The issues of tax administration, equal territorial development, land reform were also touched upon.
Prime Minister Pashinyan stressed the importance of holding such meetings on a regular basis. He noted that he considers the business community one of the government’s key partners. “Our task is to stand by business in generating revenues according to the formula “get richer and enrich others. The state along with our people’ security is a priority for all of us,” the Prime Minister said, adding that each of us should contribute to the development and progress of our state.