Millions of State Aid to Armenia's IT Sector: Still No Government Review of Spending
Last December, the Armenian government adopted a decision to provide 10 billion drams of state support to organizations operating in the IT sector.
The need for support was explained by the losses suffered by the companies, which were caused primarily by the devaluation of the Armenian dram against the dollar. (AMD 10 billion=US$25.9 million at current rate).
Seven months later, the government confesses it doesn’t know whether the cash has been effectively spent by these companies.
Narek Melkumyan, who heads the office of the Ministry of High-Tech Industry that distributed the money, told Hetq that such an evaluation will be made once the program is completed.
Minister of High-Tech Industry Robert Khachatryan, in December, argued that the program was designed to preserve jobs in the sector, while not reducing the salaries of employees.
Nevertheless, some of the state aid recipient companies have reduced their staff.
Hetq wrote to Khachatryan about this development and asked for clarification.
In response, Melkumyan now claims the December 1, 2022 decision contained no conditions obligating companies to maintain or increase the number of employees.
"In addition, job cuts by business entities may depend not only on dram devaluation, but also on the losses suffered by them as a result of other circumstances related to their activities," Melkumyan writes.
Despite Hetq’s many requests, the ministry initially failed to provide the names of companies receiving state assistance and the amounts.
Hetq then found such information on the Ministry of Finance’s Armeps website.
Photo: Minister of High-Tech Industry Robert Khachatryan