Mandatory assistance to the army
Armenian Defense Minister, Vigen Sargsyan, suggests steep increase of financial assistance to the military, wounded when defending their country, as well as the families of those, killed during the hostilities.
Vigen Sargsyan reported on the aforesaid to the country’s President, Serzh Sargsyan, noting that a mechanism for raising necessary funds had been also elaborated. It is suggested that it should be introduced since January 28, 2017, i.e. on the 25th anniversary of the Army of the Republic of Armenia.
The mechanism is as follows: a non-budget fund will be set up, where each employed citizen of Armenia will transfer AMD1,000 (a little bit more than US$2) per month. The fund will be also replenished at the expense of private transfers, donations (that will be presumably more substantial).
In the Defense Minister’s words, this will allow the families of killed servicemen, as well as the 1st degree disabled military men, to receive one-off insurance payouts amounting to AMD10million (approximately US$21,000) and AMD5million – to the military with 2nd degree of disability.
The idea of inclusive participation, which turned out to be quite efficient during the 2016 Karabakh-Azerbaijan conflict, from now on will actually acquire a status of a new tax.
President Sargsyan approved the bill: “I believe the time has come when we are able through the assistance of our citizens to sharply improve the situation.
In fact, the given situation very much resembles a subtle psychological play. Young people defending their motherland are unconditionally warmly perceived by each and every citizen, who have always assisted the army. They do it voluntarily, driven solely by their hearts, because the young guys who are on the border on guard, risking their lives every moment, are, in no way, associated with the discredited officials in power.
And now, many citizens of Armenia have nothing against making financial assistance to the army a regular and even mandatory thing. The problem lies more in the transparent and reasonable collection and spending of taxes ( by the way, it concerns all types of taxes). Public agencies are placing their stake on citizens’ emotions and kindheartedness, while serious class differences in Armenia are in no way smoothed down.
Accumulation of wealth with the officials and businessmen, close to the country’s leadership, is what actually led to this impasse. The community is ready to assist the army, but it doesn’t view the public agencies as a go-between.
Defence Minister Vigen Sargsyan, who has no military background, has put forward an idea of nation-army, under which, the army should be not only ‘a mirror of the society’, but also kind of a ‘smithy.’
It is assumed that the army will thus become a pattern model and will strengthen the relationship between the state and the citizens. Ultimately, Vigen Sargsyan is well-aware that reference ‘a citizen’ is more modern than a ‘nation’ concept. By choosing the word ‘nation’, he thus tries to bypass a reminder of the state, confining himself to the historically and instinctively better receptived vocabulary.
And here comes the question: if the army and the nation are uniform, what is the role of the state in this process?
The state assures, there will be a ‘board of individuals, enjoying public trust and respect’ in the fund, who will monitor this absolutely transparent and public process.”
In fact, the state assumes a function of executing control over the situation. Let’s say, it will oversee the appointment of individuals, ‘enjoying public trust and respect’. It will first appoint them and then supervise.
The reports on setting up a new fund caused mixed reactions on social media. Here are some opinions, expressed by the Facebook users:
“Dear sirs, we are already paying enough taxes, so be kind to spend the state funds, raised through the already high taxes, purposefully and effectively, allocating them to the army and the military men, rather than providing yourselves with luxury business trips, cars, furniture and office curtains.
“This fund should have been set up years ago. Though, better late than never. It’s we, who are sending our children to serve in the army and defend our homeland. We can and should assist them whenever necessary, shouldn’t we?!
“The need for such a structure resides in the fact that when the military servicemen and their families face the problems, they shouldn’t wait for some charity giver to lend a helping hand to them. At the same time, it will be the right thing if the benefactors, the people with high earnings, could make more substantial contributions to the common cause. In this case, people with minimal salaries will not transfer money to this fund. Let the oligarchs pay out larger sums to the fund in their stead.
“The government saw, what people were doing voluntarily, and it decided: you are doing a good job. So, from now on, you will be doing it on mandatory basis. And don’t say that AMD1,000 per month isn’t that big money and that you can spare it. I’m already paying a lot of taxes, so let the government do some work to spend it more effectively.
Those, who have power in Armenia, have got accustomed to use the word ‘motherland’ instead of ‘Republic of Armenia’. They say ‘the Armenians’, avoiding the word ‘citizens’, while the ‘citizen’ is a higher legal status than a status of a mere representative of the nation.
The motherland and nation could be the ‘mirror and smithy’ to each other, since they are abstract and emotional notions (similarly as in the case of ‘mirror’ and ‘smithy’, that are used metaphorically), whereas the ‘Republic of Armenia’ and ‘а citizen of the Republic of Armenia’, are absolutely different, quite specific notions, with the rights and duties embodied in the Constitution.
It’s preferable that it should be remembered, even when the public agencies are trying to limit their functions to creating some abstract ‘smithies’.