The $20 million was returned as a result of anti-corruption measures and dealing with the country’s shadow economy
The State Revenue Committee of Armenia has managed to return about 10 billion drams ($20 million) to the state treasury in the past eight months.
Where did the money come from?
Immediately after the peaceful transfer of power in Armenia back in April 2018, the State Revenue Committee began inspections in areas where the shadow economy and corruption were the most prominent. In particular, the activities of Yerevan supermarkets, which, as it turned out, were not paying VAT for agricultural products, were audited.
The state customs service was also inspected and found lacking – Norfolk Consulting, which offered customs clearance services, was heavily fined and later ceased operations entirely.
The State Revenue Committee itself was not let off the hook either – a number of corrupt and bribe-taking employees were uncovered as well.
$20 million – a lot or not enough?
The $20 million that has come in from fighting corruption and the shadow economy is a small amount, says economist Hrant Mikaelyan.
“The expectations of society were higher – [it was expected that] as a result of the revolution, much larger sums would be returned to the terasury. It must be said that there is still much unfinished business. Also, many companies have been fined, although not all of these amounts reached the treasury. But the sum of 10 billion drams itself is not very significant.”
Mikaelyan also notes that the fight against the shadow economy has yielded some results, but in the sphere of small and medium business, the situation has not changed significantly.
“Some aspects of large business that were formerly part of the shadow economy have been brought out. This is evidenced by increased tax payments, and by the number of registered employees. As for small and medium businesses, it is not so simple here. The situation in this area has not changed very much. In particular, in the field of trade and services, we see that small companies have not increased the payment of taxes. And this means that, most likely, they are as much ‘in the shadow’ as before, or even more.”
When did the fight against corruption and the shadow economy begin?
The fight against corruption and the shadow economy in Armenia began immediately after the revolution of April 2018. The leader of the revolution who came to power, Nikol Pashinyan, said that there would be no ‘redistribution’ of business, but all companies must legalize their income.
Criminal cases for corruption were also launched against former high-ranking officials and their relatives. Under investigation, in particular, is former Minister of Nature Protection of Armenia Aram Harutyunyan, who is suspected of taking a $14 million bribe.