Armenian National Assembly endorses government-proposed ‘Development Program’
Today, the National Assembly of Armenia has endorsed a development program proposed by the government for the next 5 years. The majority of MPs (64 out of the total 105 lawmakers) voted ‘for’ the program, while 31 MPs voted ‘against’ it.
Two out of four political forces represented in the Armenian Parliament, the Tsarukyan and Yelk factions, voted against the governmental program. Another two groups – the Premier’s team, represented by the Republican faction (RPA) and its coalition partner, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Dashnaktsutyun, supported the it.
The governmental program provides for a 5% annual economic growth, reduction of poverty by almost 50%, an increase in the minimum wage and a significant growth of export rates.
According to the Armenian Premier, Karen Karapetyan, the program is based on a concept of ‘a safe, just and intellectual Armenia’, and is aimed at changing the quality of life: it should ensure people’s well-being and create a safer and more stable environment for business.
The Premier was confident that a favorable and competitive environment will be created for both local and Diaspora Armenians, so that Armenia could become ‘a pillar for creativity’, and ‘a comfortable place for business’.
PM Karapetyan also stressed the importance of anti-corruption measures. As he pointed out, the establishment of a new anti-corruption agency and elaboration of a new law which would criminalize illicit enrichment, testify to increasing ‘intolerance’ of corruption.
Meanwhile, the opposition MPs and economists expressed their discontent with the program. In their opinion, the Karapetyan-led government has ignored the most important economic issues that need to be timely addressed.
According to Vahagn Khachatryan, an economist, the government presented an ‘anti-program’, which is unlikely to change the quality of life in Armenia. Another economist, Mesrop Arakelyan, noted that Armenian citizens want to live normally and provide for their families without leaving the country, but ‘could that be achieved through the 5% economic growth announced in the program?’ According to Arakelyan, there is no answer to this question.
The opposition MPs also focused on one more issue: Will Karen Karapetyan maintain his post after 2018?
Under the recently introduced constitutional amendments, Armenia has switched to the parliamentary form of government. So, starting from 2018, the country will be ruled by the Prime Minister, rather than the President.
In this regard, the opposition MPs wondered whether the program would be implemented during the incumbent Premier’s term in office, or if the head of the government would be replaced and an absolutely different document be introduced after 2018.
This question was asked repeatedly. Karen Karapetyan finally answered it, saying that he was ‘ready to be the Prime Minister’.