Customs clearance fee hikes in Armenia cause protest of discontent
New customs rules which came into force in Armenia on September 1 have given rise to discontent: on September 9, business owners in Yerevan held a protest against new regulations which will oblige them to go through more intensive customs clearance standards.
Earlier, importers paid customs clearance fees according to weight. Now, all products must be declared separately, imported items have to be declared separately and the total customs fee will depend on the value of the product itself.
In addition, on September 9, Yerevan also established new rules and restrictions for street trading.
Importers are dissatisfied with the new changes that must be observed in the customs clearance process.
While earlier importers imported clothes and paid 4 dollars per kilogram, now they will have to deal with customs clearance of each product separately. The total amount will depend on the cost of the product itself.
During the protest, business owners noted that due to the new rules, at customs they will have to pay many more times the earlier fees, and this, in turn, will lead to an increase in prices on the market.
One of the demonstrators said that he brought his goods to Armenia and left them right at the customs:
“On August 31 customs clearance would have cost 54,000 drams (about 110 dollars), now everything will cost six times more – 316,000 drams (about 700 dollars). Many of us purposefully did not clear the goods, as we are waiting for the cancellation of the current rules”, said the business owner.
Members of the government did not address the crowds, who went to the building of the State Revenue Committee.
While the entrepreneurs were holding a protest action, the State Revenue Committee issued a statement, which notes that representatives of both sides met the day before:
“An agreement was reached that the next day we will discuss all issues at a working meeting with the leadership of the Ararat customs.
“However, after some time, the citizens noted that they refuse to have a working meeting and prefer to organize a protest in front of the government building,” the CGD said in a statement.
What are the restrictions imposed on the work of street vendors
From January 1, 2021, street trading in Yerevan will be implemented in accordance with certain requirements and restrictions. This decision was made at the meeting of the Council of Elders of Yerevan on September 9.
Now street trade must be carried out exclusively from hand to hand – goods cannot be laid out on the ground. The use of stands, strollers and other items to demonstrate the goods is prohibited.
Instead, sellers will be required to carry a cash register and all required paperwork.
Hovik Safaryan, the head of the trade and service department of the mayor’s office, explained the introduction of the new rules by the fact that this is just a way to organize street trading in a civilized way, creating a legal framework.
However, this explanation did not very much convince the Luys opposition faction in the Council of Elders.
“How should a person work in such conditions? That is, he will have 10-15 balloons in his hands, a cash register, documents, a wallet, and at the same time he has no right to put goods on the ground. I want to understand how you imagine this will work?!” said one Council fo Elder member.
Street vendors themselves perceived the new rules ambiguously. Some agree to buy cash registers, “so long as they are not driven by the mayor’s office”, while others complain that “everything will have to be dragged around.”
Social media reaction
Armenian Facebook users were divided in their reaction to the news.
Some support the business owners and sellers, while others, on the contrary, believe that the government has made the right decision.
Here are some comments:
“I’ll tell you from my experience: I went to the customs office in Charbakh, handed over the documents, and from there I went to the Ararat customs office. From there I was again sent to Charbakh. They checked almost every rag one by one, determining the price. It took over four hours. Spent a lot of nerves and gasoline.”
“A man took out a loan, delivered a product, and now he has to sell it for a high price – of course he will not sell it. And how to close the loan now?”
“When you go to these stores and ask for at least some kind of discount, they will die sooner than give you a dime. And here, you see, the state must meet them halfway!”
“Raising the prices for customs clearance three times is a robbery!”