By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Parliament rubber-stamped on Wednesday largely symbolic changes in Armenia’s new social security system that were suggested by the government at the behest of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The changes took the form of amendments to a package of relevant laws that introduced earlier this year lifetime “individual codes” which will contain information about incomes and social security contributions of every Armenian citizen. The government decided to rename them into “social security cards” last month after the church said that attaching a particular number to a human being runs counter to the basic tenets of Christianity.
Some passionate adherents of the church conducted this summer a high-profile campaign against the new scheme which the government says is need for curbing the informal sector of the Armenian economy.
“The code numbers will be given to personal cards, not individuals,” Social Security Minister Aghvan Vartanian reiterated in the National Assembly on Wednesday. He said social workers across the country, who report to his ministry, will make corresponding documentary adjustments before the new system formally enters into force on July 1, 2004.