The government of newly elected Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has given the economy top billing in its 29-page policy paper, presented to the parliament for final approval, but those looking for specifics may feel shortchanged.
The portion of the paper dealing with the economy is entitled “Continuous Economic Development”, but the reader will not find many quantifiable target objectives.
Instead, what we do come across is what the government describes as the “social effect of economic development” and how increased employment will help overcome poverty in Armenia.
What we don’t see is the government promising to reduce poverty rates by a certain number of percentage points.
Reviewing the policy paper, this reporter noticed a lack of clarity in many areas. However, we must note that while past governments made specific promises to tackle a host of problems facing Armenia and presented a number of detailed targeted approaches to resolve them, such promises mostly remained on paper.
Drafting a policy agenda for the future is fine, but if the political will to take the steps necessary to achieve the specified aims is lacking, then all is for naught.
Another observation I think needs to be made is that the bulk of the citizenry isn’t interested in knowing what this or that government is presenting as a plan of action, but rather measure a government’s success by the degree to which their own lives have improved; they want tangible results.
Pashinyan’s government argues that it’s vital to ensure a level playing field and deal with business monopolies in order to achieve its stated goal of “continuous economic development”, arguing that the economic stagnation of the past two decades has mostly been caused by a lack of fair market competition.
The government says it has to quickly examine the tax payment records of large businesses to ascertain what their tax arrears are, if any, then to work out a mutually acceptable resolution with each company.
It appears that the government wants to level the playing field by making certain that businesses, especially the big ones, pay their fair share of tax.
The government specifically states that while it will not “engage in political or economic harassment” regarding the tax payment infractions, it will forcefully uphold that law and the nation’s interests.
The policy paper also offers several ways to tackle the much talked about problem of “black market” business in Armenia.
In this regard, the government says it’s vital to create a stable and predictable tax environment, the continual improvement of the business climate, the introduction of the concept of paying taxes voluntarily, without coercion, and active work in the field of international tax relations.
The other section of policy paper’s economic section is entitled “The Social Effect of Economic Development; Increased Employment, Overcoming Poverty”.
In it, the government says it’s necessary to implement a model of economic development and distribution of created value that allows each citizen to personally experience the results of economic growth.
The policy paper also underlines the role of small and medium sized businesses in spurring overall economic growth and says the government will take steps to remove obstacles in this regard.
The government has reaffirmed the three main sectors it believes are vital for economic development in Armenia – cutting edge technology, agriculture and tourism.