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Press Review


“Our palace television periodically shows the head of state receiving tax collectors, customs officials, bankers and the like in his office and giving them appropriate instructions,” writes “Aravot.” “Recently, for example, he met with banking sector officials with whom he discussed the issue of currency [exchange rate] fluctuations and, so to speak, negative phenomena stemming from that.” Robert Kocharian told them that some banks have engaged in illegal currency trading. He warned that the practice, if it continues, will lead to “serious consequences” for those banks.

But “Aravot” believes that such televised meetings are just a gimmick. The paper says small and medium-sized enterprises have remained the main cash cow of the Armenian tax authorities ever since the start of their stated crackdown on tax evasion last January. “Let them show how a rich man working in the shadow [sector of the economy] is forced to pay taxes from his real revenues or customs duties from his imported goods.”

“Hardly a day goes by without one or another official complaining about the size of the shadow economy,” writes “Hayots Ashkhar,” adding that the authorities themselves promote the informal sector of the economy by applying “double standards” to businesses. “The application of double standards enables the authorities to control senior bureaucrats, regional governors and oligarchs.” The paper says this means that no person against whom the authorities have no “discrediting material” has a chance to hold a senior government position. This situation in turn “enhances the criminal mentality of the society.”

Commenting on the recent publication of the list of Armenia’s 300 largest corporate taxpayers, “Yerkir” says it is naïve to think that public embarrassment will force lucrative Armenian companies to stop posting false losses or underreporting their profits. What they care about the most is their “super-profits,” says the paper.

“Do not create unnecessary problems for yourself,” Prime Minister Andranik Markarian is quoted as telling a “Haykakan Zhamanak” reporter who asked him tough questions about his son’s income declaration on Thursday. “We believe that that property will create problems for Markarian. In the future,” hits back “Haykakan Zhamanak.”

Markarian’s son Taron, meanwhile, assures “Hayots Ashkhar” that he is not as rich as his financial statement might suggest. He also claims that he finds it even more difficult to context a local election in Yerevan’s Avan district without any challengers.

In an interview with “Iravunk,” opposition leader Aram Sarkisian alleges that Armenia’s criminal underworld has grown “intertwined” with the government. “Robert Kocharian is certainly to blame for that,” he says. Sarkisian also claims that two or “perhaps three” unspecified pro-government parties will take part in his promised “revolution.”

(Vache Sarkisian)
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