By Atom Markarian
The government hopes its new proposed legislation will encourage private businessmen to invest more in innovative technologies.
Today, the cabinet approved a draft law on “State Assistance to Innovative Activities” which officials say is “the first step towards establishing a science-intense economy in the republic”.
Deputy Minister of Trade and Economic Development Gagik Vartanian, like many other experts, believes that there is no alternative to engaging intellectual capacities in Armenia, a landlocked country deprived of oil and other major energy resources and situated in a geopolitically hostile environment.
“This law can in some way contribute that economic interest is created, incentives for private sector to make investments,” Vartanian said in a press briefing on Thursday.
According to him, with this new legislation the state promises direct and indirect privileges to businessmen making investments in high-risk technological initiatives.
So far Armenia’s private entrepreneurs have been reluctant to invest in high-risk projects not only because of large expenses, but also because of the long term of expected profit.
Now officials assure that the government will make the first steps in this direction, taking into consideration the presence of certain possibilities.
“You saw the high rates of economic growth in recent years. There is a certain possibility to direct some resources also into this sphere. It is the experience of the world and we will apply it, of course, proceeding from our peculiarities. We simply have no alternative,” said Vartanian.
Another obstacle standing in the way of the development of innovation projects is the lack of adequate protection of intellectual property rights.
For this purpose the government today also approved changes in the Law on “Copyright and Associated Rights”, toughening punishments for piracy.
Giving explanations in this regard, Intellectual Property Rights Agency Director Armen Azizian said that unlike the current legislation envisaging criminal responsibility for breaking copyrights laws that results in a damage of 500,000 dram (about $1,100) and more, the planned changes will reduce the size of damage to 200,000 drams.
“This toughening is aimed at intensifying the struggle against piracy in our country,” Azizian explained.