By Anush Dashtents
Editors of Armenia’s leading publications criticized on Wednesday the government strategy of privatizing the main newspaper distribution agency, saying that it could hurt their already low sales.
Under the plan approved by ministers on November 15, the privatization of the Haymamul agency is to start shortly with the sale of more than 300 newspaper kiosks scattered across the country. Haymamul employees running the kiosks will be offered to buy them in the first instance. The rest of Haymamul will be auctioned off afterwards.
The leading editors voiced strong objections to the idea of insider buyouts at a meeting with Minister for State Property David Vartanian. They claimed that the kiosks’ separation from the agency would make newspaper distribution in Armenian even less efficient and want the government to sell Haymamul in a single package.
But Vartanian argued that Haymamul, which is mired in debts, will not be able to attract buyers if it is put up for sale as a whole. Still, he promised to ask the government to consider alternative ways of the privatization.
The plan defended by Vartanian envisages that proceeds from the kiosk sales will be directed to the payment of Haymamul’s debt to dozens of newspapers which have long complained about the agency’s inefficient work.