“Aravot” casts doubt on the wisdom of plans to enact a law against corruption. A bill drafted by the parliament committee on defense and security will soon be included in the National Assembly agenda. It envisages creation of an independent public agency tasked with tackling bribery, embezzlement and favoritism among civil servants. Pledges to eradicate the practice are popular among Armenian government officials these, the paper notes. Yet the main problem with them is that corruption has plagued the entire state apparatus of the country, including the law-enforcement system. And it remains to be whether officials the anti-corruption body will keep their hands clean. There is little reason to believe that they will.
The head of the parliament committee in question, Vahan Hovannisian, comments in “Hayots Ashkhar” on the parliament’s refusal to approve a government report on the execution of last year’s state budget. “The National Assembly is sick and tired of being the government’s appendage,” Hovannisian says. This is especially true for minority factions. Hovannisian complains that there are no legal provisions for sanctioning the executive for its failure to meet its spending and revenue targets. Therefore, debates on the budgetary report are simply meaningless.
“Hayots Ashkhar,” meanwhile, does not seem to share the lawmaker’s view, criticizing those deputies who say they voted against the report in order to make the government work better. “Gentlemen, aren’t your warnings a bit too costly to the country?” the paper asks.
“Iravunk” uses soccer jargon to describe the deputies’ rejection of the report. It says that Dashnaktsutyun and the recently formed People’s Deputy group “showed the government a yellow card.” The two factions thus hinted that they want greater representation in the cabinet if Prime Minister Andranik Markarian is to count on their continued support. It is obvious to the paper that this was not done without President Kocharian’s and Defense Minister Sarkisian’s blessing. The two men are keen to further weaken Markarian.
“Iravunk” says, in another commentary, that the Kocharian-Sarkisian duo seems to getting its way on another major issue as well: the parliament’s involvement in the case of the parliamentary shootings. They may have failed to deter the parliament from setting up a commission to oversee the probe, but as its composition suggests, have “managed to prevent it from working effectively.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” agrees, saying that most members of the commission were picked with a view to “making the commission’s activities as meaningless as possible.”
Stepan Demirchian, leader of the People’s Party that was instrumental in the parliament’s decision to try to oversee the investigation, appears to realize this, according to “Iravunk.” Demirchian has also expressed doubts about the commission’s ability to accomplish its mission.