Kristine Aghalaryan

Tax Break for Company Founded by Syunik Governor Khachatryan: 3rd Hydro Plant Threatens River

A bill that will let Khachatryan Brothers Ltd.  postpone paying VAT tax for three years as financial compensation for its planned investment of 1.9 billion AMD (US$3.9 million) to build a small hydro-power plant in Armenia’s Syunik Province, has been submitted for government approval.

Of note is the fact that the company was founded by Syunik Provincial Governor Sourik Khachatryan and his cousin Sasoun Khachatryan. In 2010, they transferred their shares to close friends.

One of the current shareholders is Davit Tolounts, son of Sourik Khachatryan’s former deputy Ara Tolounts.

If approved, the company would get the payment postponement on 489 million AMD worth of Chinese equipment it would import to Armenia to construct the power plant.

The company has already received a license to build the plant that will, once completed, provide fourteen jobs at an average salary of 120,000 AMD ($252) per month.

This would be the third hydro plant on the River Dal, a 26 kilometer tributary of the Vorotan.

The Khachatryan Brothers Ltd. plans to build a 6 kilometer pipe to divert water to its plant.

A company called Loraget Hek Ltd. already operates two plants on the river. They are fed water via a 4.5 kilometer pipe.

Combined, these three plants will divert 40% of the river for electricity production.

Can the river survive? Probably not.

Ecolur, an environmental NGO based in Armenia, assessed the river’s situation as critical at 31% water diversion; that’s to say just based on the damage caused by the two Loraget plants.

Top photo: Sourik Khachatryan and Ara Tolounts