Statements and messages of the Prime Minister of RA

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's speech in the National Assembly when presenting the report on the implementation process and results of the Government Action Plan 2021-2026 for the year of 2022


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Honorable President of the National Assembly,

Dear Vice Presidents,

Dear members of the National Assembly,

Dear members of the Government,

Dear journalists,

Dear children,

Dear people,

Today I am here to present the report on the implementation process and results of the Government Action Plan 2021-2026 for the year of 2022.

The printed version of the report is on your desks, it is published on the Internet, and especially taking this into account, I think we should address not only the results and problems of 2022, but also the vision of the future that the Government of the Republic of Armenia offers to the people of the Republic of Armenia.

But before that, I want to talk about optimism, because it is not possible to implement any future-oriented project without sufficient optimism.

So the key question is the following. In these stormy times, is there the necessary amount of optimism in the Republic of Armenia, not only to talk about the future, not only to design it, but also to build and bring to life that future? My answer is unequivocal. against all the difficulties and complications, there is the necessary optimism to talk about the future in the Republic of Armenia, to plan the future and to build that future, and I am sure of it. The daily news, of course, does not give such confidence, public discussions do not give such confidence, the international situation does not give such confidence.

But today, at this very moment, the process of construction of around 55 thousand apartments is taking place in the Republic of Armenia. Construction process of around 55,000 apartments.

This is about 6 percent of the ever-created housing fund of the Republic of Armenia, 12.2 percent of the housing fund in multi-apartment buildings.

In the history of the Third Republic, housing construction has never had such volumes, and today, not only the traditionally rich, but also the middle class, who have the opportunity to work, create and see the results of their work thanks to the economic policy of the Government, are buying apartments.

At the same time, according to the results of 2022, the number of beneficiaries of the program for the refund of mortgage loan interest from income tax for individuals in the case of purchasing an apartment was 29 thousand 197 people, that is, according to the results of 2022, we have this number, which exceeded the indicator of 2021 by 8277 people or 39.5 percent, and the indicator of 2018 - 25 thousand 176 people or 626 percent. I think about these numbers a lot, trying to understand what these numbers mean.

In the conditions of border instability, security vulnerability of the Republic of Armenia, and the collapse of the world order, tens of thousands of citizens of the Republic of Armenia are buying apartments, thousands of investors are building apartments. Why do they do this, what does this behavior of citizens mean? I think this means and can mean only one thing. people believed in the Government's peace agenda, people believe that there will be peace and they will have the opportunity to live happily and create in their homeland, otherwise it would make no sense to buy an apartment, let alone build an apartment. People believe in the motto of the ruling majority "There is a future!"

Dear attendees.

I am not saying all this to record the pleasant fact, but I am saying it once again to emphasize our, I mean the exclusive responsibility of the Government and the parliamentary majority towards all those people who believe in the future of the Republic of Armenia. I should also emphasize our exclusive responsibility towards all those people who are suspicious of that future. And this responsibility has and can have only one expression in this historical period. It is peace, which means oregulated relations with all four of our neighbors. And since we don’t have the task of normalization of relations with Georgia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, but rather of further deepening them, then peace means regulated relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey.

The key questions is, of course, the following. and how realistic is it, how feasible? Moreover, this question has two layers. The first, since peace cannpt be built by one side, to what extent Azerbaijan's actions and policies will be oriented towards peace, and secondly, especially after the 44-day war, if compromises are reached at the political-diplomatic level, how acceptable these compromises will be for the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, and to what extent the citizens will allow the practical implementation of these compromises, sometimes painful solutions.

But this is also our responsibility, dear colleagues, and we must make the course of our thoughts and actions understandable to the citizens of Armenia, and when they understand it, they will also accept it. And if you have paid attention, the main goal of many forces known to you and us is to make us lose the thread of our dialogue with the citizens, close ourselves in our cabinets, government buildings and lose the emotional, visual and political connection with the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, or make the dialogue lost in the noise.

We must stand against this and when we explain to the people from house to house, village to village, district to district, city to city what happened and what is happening around our country, they will understand us. They understand us, otherwise we wouldn't be here. They understand us because, as I said in several of our gatherings, our biggest disadvantage and biggest advantage is that we are not at all, so to speak, a "ruling, governing elite", we are average citizens of the Republic of Armenia who received a mandate from the people to rule.

The disadvantage of this situation is that moral barriers and brakes do not allow us to make deals with other elites behind the backs of the people, which increases the tension around us. The advantage is that we continue to be in a strong emotional, socio-psychological connection, to be connected by an umbilical cord with our people, which makes it possible to tacitly understand many things, speaking loudly about which could even lead to international scandals and geopolitical problems.

Hence, returning to the possibility of peace and the problem of creating such a possibility, I have to record the following. peace is possible if we clearly record in all our international relations, not only today, but also for the future, that we recognize the territory of 29 thousand 800 square kilometers as the Republic of Armenia, more specifically, the territory of the Armenian SSR, in which we gained independence in 1991, and we not only have no territorial claims from other countries, but we will never have any.

If we do not record this idea, if we do not make it the socio-psychology of our society, no one will allow us to develop, because no one will agree with the idea that we are developing, getting stronger, aiming to direct this development and strength against others, to expand the territory of our country.

Moreover, in this case, not only not allowing our development will be a matter of others’ agenda, but not allowing the existence of at least our statehood will become a matter of other's agenda. And nobody will help us in this situation. No one will help. And now I'm not talking about theory, but reality, which has been constantly standing before us in recent years and is still standing today. In recent years, we have seen the manifestation of this situation on a large or small scale several times.

Therefore, the strategic goal of our development agenda should be to live harmoniously and peacefully with the regional environment, with the security and well-being of our country as the goal. Of course, this is possible if others adopt the same strategy. But we can do it first. this is the reason why I raise this issue from this high rostrum and record this approach.

Moreover, this does not in any way mean to forget our history, but it means to change the perspective of the perception of history, the socio-psychological perception. In this context, I must emphasize an extremely important nuance, which has been talked about, is being talked about on different platforms, but mostly in a low voice. We do not have much success in creating a school of historiography of a sovereign state, and a significant part of our historiographical content is limited in the mold of Soviet historiography, which in some sense is consistent with the non-existence of an independent Armenian state and is even contrary to the concept of sovereignty.

It's not about historical facts being wrong at all, it's about the viewpoints of looking at the facts, the conclusions and conclusions derived from them, the architectural style and preferences of using those facts as building materials for building the future. And our biggest delusion has been that we can create an independent state idealogy on the pillars of Soviet-Armenian historiography.

For example, the problem with our model of patriotism. I have spoken on this topic several times both publicly and at the working level, and I want to record a serious problem once again. The Republic of Armenia and/or Armenian statehood has never been the primary object of our traditional model of patriotism, and at the socio-psychological level this situation is preserved even today. And the reason is one. We are not the author of that model of patriotism, and it is time to admit this. We are at least co-authors, and consumers at most.

And so, what I said actually refers to the agenda of the need to create our own, or rather, our state model of patriotism. And I record that there is such an issue on the agenda, and the solution of that issue is a vital necessity, a matter of national security.

Returning to Armenia-Turkey relations, I must record that, yes, there is a great opportunity to establish normal relations between our countries. And that opportunity, I have to admit, has increased due to supra-political, supra-diplomatic factors, or rather, human values, after we decided to respond to the catastrophic earthquake that occurred in Turkey at the beginning of this year with a logic based on human, neighborly values, and the Turkish government and public perceived and accepted our actions exactly as such.

We would not have made the decision to send a rescue team and humanitarian aid to Turkey if we had not changed our standpoint of perceiving history and the problems arising from it during this period, if we had remained in the above-mentioned model of patriotism, Turkey would not have opened the Margara Bridge for our cargo and rescue team if it did not believe in our sincerity.

And the dozen flags of the Republic of Armenia flying in front of the Turkish Foreign Ministry during the visit of Foreign Minister Mirzoyan to Ankara are not only a ceremonial component, but an amazing record that hope can arise where despair prevails. The flags of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey were raised over the ruins of our relations and the catastrophic earthquake, and I hope that in the near future the Armenia-Turkey border will really open, creating basis for the development of normal neighborly relations.

In this regard, it is extremely important that the agreement to open the border for citizens of third countries and holders of diplomatic passports be implemented in the coming months.

Of course, this may not happen if the new perceptions and impressions brought by humanitarian and neighborly values freeze and fade over time, and their influence on political and diplomatic decisions becomes null and void. I hope this will not happen.

As for relations with Azerbaijan, everything is much more complicated here. Following the 44-day war, Azerbaijan is in a state of euphoria and is thinking of taking as much as possible, and if possible, taking everything. And this perception of it is further fueled by the international situation. Basically, Azerbaijan directly or indirectly becomes or has become an energy and logistics crossroads, and its importance for both Russia and some Western countries has increased. But this situation contains both risks and opportunities.

We see the risks almost every day, and the opportunity is perhaps that the South Caucasus itself is a big crossroads, and the role of Armenia and Georgia is no less important in it. In this context, the stability and peace of the region can become a consensus between the West and Russia, because if our region explodes again, at least in terms of energy, it can become a problem for both Russia and the West, with other consequences arising from energy.

But, of course, peace also depends on us and our positions, and my sincere desire is to do everything possible to conclude a peace treaty with Azerbaijan as soon as possible. Is such a development possible? I think it is really possible, but for that it is necessary to face a number of problems, some of which I mentioned above, but, of course, in the context of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, they need to be further clarified.

The peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan will become realistic if the two countries clearly, without ambiguities and pitfalls, recognize each other's territorial integrity and undertake not to raise territorial claims to each other today and ever.

In fact, we agreed on this with the president of Azerbaijan on October 6, 2022 in Prague and on October 31 in Sochi, which was recorded in relevant public statements. Nevertheless, official statements are made from both Yerevan and Baku, accusing the other party of not keeping to the agreements.

I now want to reaffirm that the Republic of Armenia fully recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and we expect that Azerbaijan will do the same by recognizing the entire territory of the Armenian SSR as the Republic of Armenia.

I should also say that Azerbaijan's claims that during the peace treaty negotiations Armenia refused or refuses to fully recognize Azerbaijan's territorial integrity are untrue, and we can prove it. It was we who proposed that the maps of the Armenian and Azerbaijani SSRs, comfirmed by the USSR, be attached to the treaty as a basis for the territorial integrity of the two countries.

But this is where we come to the biggest and most complex problem, Nagorno Karabakh. And there is a nuance which, in fact, has been very urgent during the last 16 years, but we have never addressed it. And the problem is that we usually reflect and have reflected on the future of Nagorno Karabakh, but it was and is important to also address the issue of the situation in Nagorno Karabakh at any time during the existence of the conflict.

In fact, in the last five years, I have tried to do this several times, but unfortunately, every time the topic turns into an opposition-government debate, which is also normal. But in reality, there is a practical problem - the need to objectively find the answer to the question, and I will now try to do it in such a way that what I say does not look like an accusation directed at anyone, so that we focus on the content of the question and not on the form.

Throughout the entire period of Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the principle of territorial integrity and the principle of self-determination have been placed side by side. This actually records realities that we have not acknowledged, but which, regardless of our acknowledgment, exist. In this context, the right to self-determination means that you are asking to review the conditionally A status of the beneficiary of the right to self-determination. It could theoretically mean: revise status A, make status B, or revise and not change, or revise, make status A plus 1 or A minus 1 - I say conditionally not to stir up additional political passions, but focus on the content - that is, the future change of the status to anything else, and everything is clear here. But without recording status A, which you want to develop, change and turn into status B, you cannot talk with this logic about any future status, that is, self-determination, because if you raise the issue of self-determination, it means that you are part of something, if you're not part of something, then you've either already self-determined or you don't need self-determination.

Now, we ourselves, with our own hands (at a time known to you) - I won't say when, so as not to inflame additional passions - have created this negotiation, political, geopolitical reality, not only have we created it, but we have cemented it, but after that we said, that we want B status for Nagorno Karabakh, but we have never publicly accepted A status. And with this we have deceived ourselves, the people of Armenia and the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. But I want to pay attention to the following. at least now, I am not saying this to blame anyone, but to record that unless we face this obvious fact and reality, we will never have peace. Never.

But, as I have said, I consider peace to be my political commitment, especially now, especially after the reconfirmation of the people's vote of confidence in the 2021 parliamentary elections. And in this context, of course, it is extremely important that an international mechanism of negotiations and dialogue between Baku and Stepanakert be formed, and that mechanism should ensure the realization of the agenda of ensuring the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.

In the context of the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty, the next important issue that I would like to talk about is the following.

It is extremely important that international mechanisms guaranteeing the implementation of the possible peace treaty are formed, otherwise, a war may break out or a new escalation may occur the day after the treaty is signed. It is also important to have mechanisms for resolving disputes between the parties, so that if the parties are unable to resolve the issues related to the interpretation of the text of the treaty through direct negotiations, there should be a court that will do it and whose decision will be binding for the parties.

Of course, the opening of economic and transport communications is also extremely important for peace. But I have touched on this issue many times, noting that the roads defined by point 9 of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020 should be reopened based on the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the parties. Of course, the practical side of applying jurisdiction should and can meet modern technological requirements, but the important thing here is not so much the technical details but the legal content.

Honorable President of the National Assembly,

Dear Vice Presidents,

Dear members of the National Assembly,

Dear members of the Government,

Dear journalists,

Dear children,

Dear people,

Here, in general terms, I presented the framework in which the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan are taking place during this period. I also presented the factors, starting from the socio-psychological and ending with the geopolitical, which have a direct or indirect impact on the negotiation process. And I did this for two reasons. first, with a view to sharing the available information with the public, including the parliamentary opposition, and second, to reaffirm the loyalty and commitment of our political team and myself to the peace agenda.

I will not address the events that took place on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, in Nagorno-Karabakh, in the Lachin Corridor in this speech, because I have talked about these issues practically every week at the Cabinet meetings. I have referred to the September 2022 aggression and subsequent events on various Armenian and international platforms, in the press conferences I convened. There is also a detailed reference to the problem in the Government's report, which is on your desks, and probably I will have the opportunity to address all those questions in the question-and-answer phase.

In this part of the speech, I want to refer to the economic indicators recorded in 2022 and the first quarter of 2023.

In 2022, the economic growth of Armenia was 12.6 percent, which is unprecedented for the last 15 years. This is a significant increase, and according to the data of the International Monetary Fund, Armenia ranks fourth among all the countries in the world in economic growth indicator. I want to emphasize that the GDP per capita in 2021 was 4,679 US dollars, in 2022 it became 6,569 US dollars. This is a significant increase. Of course, the exchange rate also plays a certain role here, but the exchange rate is not the only factor. On the other hand, the exchange rate, the increase in the purchasing power and the increase in value of the Armenian dram are also important economic factors, the effects of which we will certainly have occasion to talk about.

The economic success of 2022 motivates us to accelerate the reforms that are on our agenda so that we can serve a higher growth trajectory and strengthen our economic achievements today, creating a solid foundation for 7 percent annual economic growth in the coming years.

It should be emphasized that the economic growth of 2022 took place in an environment where many investors, in spite of external challenges, chose to create in Armenia or move their companies to our country. Local investors, also availing of the Government's support programs, ensured a fairly high level of investment. In 2022, more than 12,000 companies and 25,000 individual enterprises were established in our country, the initial estimate of the total investment volume is 1 trillion 688 billion AMD or about 20 percent of the GDP. The volume of foreign direct investments has almost tripled, reaching to almost 1 billion US dollars, significantly increasing compared to 2021 and all previous years. This indicator is an absolute record for Armenia. It is important to emphasize that a number of global companies entered Armenia in the reporting year, which is extremely important for the economic image of our country.

In this sense, the public debt-GDP ratio is also important. According to the 2022-2026 government debt reduction program, it was planned to increase this figure to 60.5 percent in 2022, and to 53.8 percent in 2026, while according to the results of 2022, the public debt/GDP ratio has already decreased from 50 percent to 46. 7 percent. Of course, the exchange rate plays a big role here as well, but the exchange rate also enables us to manage the foreign debt more effectively. And this creates an additional "reserve of stability" to withstand possible future risks.

I will specifically refer to the 2022 budget indicators.

In 2022, the tax revenues amounted to 1 trillion 926 billion AMD, which is by 768 billion AMD or 2 billion 20 million US dollars or 66.3 percent more than in 2017, and by 670 billion AMD or 1 billion 820 million USD or 53 percent more compared to 2018. Here, I specifically mention the dram, the dollar, and the percentage of growth, so that it is clear that it is not only the exchange rate effects, but the tax revenues increased by 66.3 percent in AMD, and compared to 2018, the increase is 670 billion AMD, or 1 billion 820 million US dollars, or 53 percent.

In 2022, the number of registered jobs continued to increase. In December, an absolute record of jobs in the history of Armenia was registered: 704 thousand jobs. This means that since May 2018, 156,431 jobs have been created in Armenia.

In 2022, unemployment decreased to 13 percent, compared to 19 percent in 2018. In the third quarter of 2022, moreover, the unemployment rate was 11․6 percent, which is the lowest indicator in the last 14 years.

In 2022, 36.5 billion AMD of income tax was refunded to natural persons in the sidelines of mortgage loan program, which exceeds the figure of 2017 by 34.8 billion AMD or about 1409 percent.

The average monthly nominal salary of one employee in 2022 was 235 thousand 576 AMD, which exceeds the figure of 2018 by 62 thousand 849 AMD or 36 percent, and the figure of 2021 by 31 thousand 528 AMD or by 15.5 percent. This is an important indicator that demonstrates the effectiveness of the policy to counterbalance the 8.6 percent inflation in 2022, considering that the average monthly wage increase per job is more than inflation by about 80.2 percent.

I want us to go back to February 2022 and record that one of our greatest concerns was that there would be an inflation that would cause very serious social upheaval. And the inflation really happened, in fact, we had more than twice the inflation than the maximum predicted in the budget, but as a result we recorded a much larger salary increase. I will cover other social programs in the near future.

I would like to highlight the following data related to the healthcare sector. In 2022, the number of cases of hospital and hardly affordable examinations, medical assistance and service compensated within the framework of the state order was 786 thousand 864. Compared to 2017, the number of served cases increased by 437 thousand 568 cases or 125 percent, that is, it more than doubled. This is the number of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia who benefitted from various health services at the expense of the state budget. And that number means that in 2022, compared to 2017, every day 1198 more citizens of the Republic of Armenia received medical examinations, surgeries or other medical assistance at the expense of the state budget. In this regard, I would like to remind you that according to the decision we made even before the 44-day war, family members of servicemen, including parents of conscripts, became and continue to be beneficiaries of the health care state order. And after 2020, we made the state-ordered service of this particular social group queue-free.

Another important indicator. The financing of the field of science, including the military industry, in 2022 in absolute value amounted to 29.7 billion AMD, which is more than the previous year, 2021, by about 10 billion AMD or 50.5 percent, and compared to 2017 - by 15.5 billion AMD or 108 percent. In other words, compared to 2017, the funding of science, including the military industry, has doubled. In 2022, the salary of 2,589 workers in the scientific field increased by 66 -166 percent, which is an important investment in the future of Armenia. I want to remind you that this program, the process of raising the salaries of researchers, will continue until 2025, that is, the increased salaries will increase again, from 105 to 300 percent compared to 2021, and the 2589 employees are 80 or more percent of the employees in state scientific institutions, who have passed certification, that is, certification from the beginning, then salary increase.

Dear attendees,

I want to refer to one more indicator, which I will publish today for the first time. There is no need to say how important balanced territorial development is for the development of Armenia. Summarizing the results of 2022, I would like to record that during the last five years, the Government has made unprecedented direct investments in the regions. Investments from the state budget in regions amounted to 145 billion AMD in 2022, that is, about 335 million US dollars, and in the period of 2018-2022, about 561 billion AMD or 1.2 billion US dollars. This is only for regions. Investments of this volume have not been made in our regions not only in any previous five-year period, but also in any previous decade, maybe even in the fifteen-year period. With these programs, water lines, schools, kindergartens, hospitals, dispensaries were built and repaired, lighting was installed, roads were built, repaired or overhauled.

On the other hand, I have to record that in the last five years only with subsidy programs, the Government invested about 52 billion AMD or 112 million US dollars in regions, and this number does not include the share of investments of communities in subsidy programs. In other words, in the years 2018-2022, more than 100 billion AMD or 240 million US dollars were invested in regions only through subsidy programs.

One of our important political commitments, the revival of Armenian aviation, is already a reality. In 2022, about 951 thousand passengers were transported by Armenian airlines, which exceeds the figure of 2018 by 1241 percent or 12.4 times. According to the results of 2022, the share of Armenian airlines in our air passenger transportation market is about 25 percent, and about 500 new jobs have been created in the sector. Armenian pilots, who for many years had no practical opportunity to find a professional job in our country, are returning to Armenia because, as I already mentioned, many jobs have been opened in Armenian airlines.

Honorable President of the National Assembly,

Dear Vice Presidents,

Dear members of the National Assembly,

Dear members of the Government,

Dear journalists,

Dear children,

Dear people,

I should happily report that the initial indicators for 2023 are also optimistic from an economic point of view. According to the results of January-February, we continue to have a double-digit growth of the economic activity index - 10.9 percent. The budget revenues of the first quarter were overperformed by about 14 billion AMD. It is also important to note that the tax revenues of the first quarter of this year exceed the figure of the first quarter of 2018 by 221.5 billion AMD or 92.3 percent. And if we do not count the income tax refunds, this number exceeds the corresponding indicator of the first quarter of 2018 by about 234 billion AMD or 97.2 percent. In other words, we have almost doubled the tax revenues for the first quarter of 2023 compared to 2018.

In the first quarter of 2023, compared to 2018, the amount of income tax refunds to citizens exceeds by about 12.5 billion AMD or 1417 percent, and the figure of the first quarter of 2017 by about 12.9 billion AMD or 2573 percent.

I voice about this issue to record that we not only collect more taxes, but also return a lot to the citizens. And if our indicators of tax collection are more than before by two-digit percentages, even approaching three-digit ones, the indicators of returning taxes differ by three-digit and four-digit percentages.

Pensions are one of the important directions for returning the collected taxes to citizens, and you are aware that we implemented the increase of pensions that had been planned for January 1, 2023 from September 2022, i.e. 4 months earlier than planned, considering the favorable budgetary conditions. Thanks to that increase and the increases that took place in 2022, the minimum pension in our country increased by 19 percent, from 26 thousand 500 AMD to 31 thousand 600 AMD. Of course, the absolute numbers are not large, but we are adding to the existing amount. Also, the ratio of the minimum pension to the price of the food basket increased, making 76 percent instead of 66 percent in 2018. You know that pensions will be again increased from July 1 of this year.

But in the field of pension, we have introduced not only formal but also informal mechanisms of increases, and this happened due to certain institutional reforms. As a result of the changes that took place in 2022-2023, around 498,000 pensioners in all cities of the republic and settlements with a population of over a thousand receive their pensions in a non-cash way, this is 85 percent of all pensioners. At the same time, we took the next step, and from July 1, 2022, the "Public-private social partnership measure to provide refunds to pensioners from non-cash payments" was put into effect, the meaning of which is as follows: 10 percent of non-cash transactions carried out by pensioners and beneficiaries are refunded, that is, 10 percent of non-cash transactions made from pensions or benefits are returned to citizens by the Government and banks.

And in order to create a real opportunity for cashless trade for all pensioners and beneficiaries of the republic, the Central Bank and the State Revenue Committee significantly activated the work of expanding the network of POS terminals from July last year. You know, these are the devices that enable cashless transactions in stores. As a result, we had a very important institutional development. if on July 1, 2022, the active POS terminals of the republic were 22 thousand 293, in February 2023 it became 70 thousand 267. In other words, as of this February, the number of operating POS terminals has increased by 215 percent compared to July 2022. Interestingly, compared to 2017, the increase was 816 percent.

I would like to remind you that in July 2022, the volume of non-cash trade carried out by pensioners or beneficiaries were near 0, that is, pensioners did not, in fact, do non-cash trade. But during the previous 8 months, we recorded an increase of several hundred million AMD per month, and already in March 2023, the volume of non-cash trade carried out by pensioners and beneficiaries amounted to about 4 billion AMD, more specifically, 3 billion 993 million AMD. And here, as a result of this trade, pensioners and beneficiaries received 336 million AMD refund in March, that's how much money was paid back to them. From the start of the program until March inclusive, pensioners and beneficiaries have made non-cash transactions in the amount of19 billion 754 million AMD, and more than 1.6 billion AMD were paid back. This is also an increase in pensions and benefits, this time thanks to the cooperation between the Government, banks, pensioners and beneficiaries. I want to emphasize that in March the number of beneficiaries of the program exceeded 100 thousand, i.e. more than 100 thousand pensioners and beneficiaries, while in July-August 2017 this number was 10-15 thousand.

I consider this program to be one of the clearest expressions of our approach, that the decisions we make should be aimed at solving not one, but several parallel problems. With this decision, we strengthen the social protection system, strengthen the fight against the shadow, develop the cashless trade network and get other related effects. For example, the rate of growth of not only pensioners, but also cashless trade in general is impressive.

In 2022, the volume of non-cash transactions reached 1.3 trillion AMD, increasing by 58 percent in one year compared to 2021, and the non-cash transaction increased almost tenfold compared to 2017. This is important because if the trade is cashless, it is most likely out of the shadows, that is, state revenues are increasing, economic indicators are increasing. The volumes of trade in general have also increased. for example, in the first quarter of 2023, invoices of 2.4 trillion AMD were issued, which is by 591 billion AMD or 1.4 billion USD or 31.3 percent more than in the first quarter of 2022. Why is this indicator important? This much money not only was visible to the state, but also entered the economy, because these are specific businesses, cafes, restaurants, small and medium businesses, which had a turnover of 1.4 billion more in just 3 months of last year. Cash register receipts printed in the first quarter of 2023 amounted to 564 billion AMD, which is 48.7 billion AMD or 9.4 percent more than the same period of last year.

This is the most important result of not only economic growth, but also our consistent struggle against the shadow.

And I want to emphasize that the importance of economic policy, especially in the current situation, cannot be underestimated, because, in the end, we need to politically clarify, formulate what we mean by economy. After all, the economy is the environment, the mechanism that generates or will generate the money that we need to have an independent, sovereign, competitive state.

Why do we talk so much about taxes, why do we talk so much about paying taxes, why are we so grateful to all law-abiding, working and tax-paying citizens? Because, dear colleagues, having a state is an expensive pleasure. And those who have the political and civil will pay for the pleasure and privilege of having a state, to keep that state, to preserve and develop that state. And we have to record: when we say reduction of shadow, when we say free economic environment, that means that until this moment we still do not have such an economy that generates enough money we need for having a full, independent, sovereign and competitive state.

This is the reason why we put so much emphasis on economic growth and tax and not only tax revenues of the state budget. And I want to emphasize again that our strategic perception is as follows. our response to all kinds of challenges must be both symmetrical and asymmetrical. Asymmetric means to understand the purpose of escalating these challenges and those standing behind the escalation. Their goal is to disrupt the normal development of the Republic of Armenia and not leave time for all of us to deal with the development agenda of the Republic of Armenia. But we record that we should not deviate from the development agenda of Armenia for a single minute, because we are talking about our today, our tomorrow and the future of our beloved children.

Dear colleagues,

I want to thank our opposition colleagues for participating in today's discussion and being present. And it has a very specific reason. And the reason is that their participation gave me a greater opportunity to focus on achievements and a number of important successes, which I considered really important to raise. And that opportunity was created as a result of the fact that, I am sure that during the question-and-answer session, we will be able to focus more on the problems within the framework of the issues raised by our opposition and non-opposition colleagues. Because the purpose of my speech was not at all to show or to convince that we do not have problems, that the problems do not exist, that the problems have been forgotten. On the contrary, there are problems, the problems are unfortunately here, they are deepening, but my speech was about what tools we should adopt and what tools we adopt to withstand these problems.

Of course, I have only touched on a small part of the content of this report, according to the “Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly”, there can be three more reports from the National Assembly, the three reporters will present their fields and policies and will be happy to answer all of your questions. At this stage, I want to thank you for your attention and I am ready to answer all your questions.

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