Nikol Pashinyan: “The business community is the government’s number one ally”
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In the run-up to the Holiday Season, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan today hosted the representatives of Armenia’s business community. Nikol Pashinyan congratulated the businessmen on the upcoming holidays. In his congratulatory remarks, the Premier referred to the results of FY2019 and the expectations from 2020.
Addressing those present, the Premier stated, in part:
“Dear business community representatives,
Dear Government Members,
On New Year’s Eve, I would like to begin my speech with a so-called opposition attack by answering the question whether the economic revolution I used to talk about started this year after all. In the past 11 months, Armenia has seen 7.5% economic activity and we will have more than 7% economic growth under the most conservative scenario. This is the number one indicator in our region: I mean not only the South Caucasus but also the wider region. This is the number one indicator in the Eurasian Economic Union, and this is the number one indicator in the CIS.
We were the first in Europe in terms of growth in the first quarter of this year, and we are likely to be one of the first in Europe in terms of annual growth in 2019, if not in the top ten, at least we will be among the top 15 countries in the world.
But why am I saying this? I say all this to thank you all for recording these results, because governments are usually the ones to boast high growth rates, but the truth is that growth is brought about and promoted by business communities. And I want to thank you for setting such a high benchmark for our country, and I hope that the success you have achieved this year will be followed up in 2020 with new economic indicators.
Question: Does the government have any role in generating these indicators at all? Yes, quite a modest but important role. The first is to ensure legality in the country, the second is to ensure equal opportunities, and the third is to provide for equal relationship between government agencies and business people.
Unfortunately, I cannot say that we have fulfilled these conditions 100%, but our economic indicators show that we have taken some steps in this regard. And I want to reiterate before you the political will of the Government of the Republic of Armenia to proceed along that path with confident steps. What I can state for sure is that by the end of 2019 there is no business in Armenia to claim that the Government has discriminated against it. Should any company turn out to have been discriminated in Armenia, we will inflict a bitter punishment on those officials responsible for such discriminatory treatment.
I have repeatedly stated that the business community should be the locomotive of economic revolution, and that the business community is the Government’s number one ally in our drive for ensuring the country’s economic, political development and security.
This year we are boasting of unprecedented volume of road construction activities in Armenia. And I want to state that we have had this opportunity because of the taxes you paid. We have set a higher benchmark for next year in terms of capital investment, although we have a problem with underperformance in that area, and we set that benchmark with confidence in you, convinced that the business community is talented in Armenia, and they will surely boast higher achievements in 2020.
The target of tax receipts will be overrun by about 100 billion drams this year owing to your contributions. And as a token of gratitude, we made an unprecedented decision to settle the value added tax arrears, the debt that the state has contracted, and let us admit that no one hoped that they would ever get it. But as of now we have repaid AMD 40 billion of old debt. In the meantime, we repaid 150 billion drams in VAT this year. This is an unprecedented figure in the history of the Republic of Armenia. And it is a great honor and a pleasure for me to meet you today in such a good mood, and to be honest, I came here solely to thank you and note that as the people’s elected representatives, the Government of the Republic of Armenia and I myself have great hopes on you. We hope to be in much higher mood this day next year. And I want to assure you that the Armenian government will do its utmost to maintain that mood. I do not want to talk about problems today, but I want you to know for sure that the biggest task of the Armenian government is to ensure that our “Get rich and enrich others” motto is actually implemented in Armenia.
And I hope that more and more people will join the business community in response to the changes in the Tax Code in 2020, because the next slogan we propose is as follows: “Labor is the only way to solving the problems faced in our country.”
And I am convinced that 2020 will be a year of work for us, and we will prove that it is possible to earn not only bread, not only prosperity, but also just wealth with fair sweat. Business should meet the following criteria in Armenia: fair, legitimate, hard-working earnings based on one specific goal, namely to get rich and enrich the homeland.
I wish a happy New Year and Merry Christmas to your families, colleagues, friends and employees. Thank you.”