The Armenian government plans to simplify thousands of laws and regulations in the next two years as part of its ongoing efforts to improve the country’s business environment and combat corruption, a senior official announced on Wednesday.
Armen Yeghiazarian, acting director of the government’s recently established Center for Legislative Regulation, said the body will look into as many as 26,000 laws, executive orders and other government decisions regulating economic activity in Armenia and its citizens’ dealings with the state. He said he expects the national legal framework to shrink by almost half as a result.
“We have a so-called regulatory guillotine aimed at the following: to look into all legislative acts of this country containing regulations and relating to businesses and citizens in order to see how reasonable and necessary they are and which of them can be curtailed or abolished altogether,” Yeghiazarian told a news conference.
Yeghizarian’s center is subordinate to a special state council that was set up by President Serzh Sarkisian last September to make government regulation of the economy more efficient and coordinate government efforts to improve the domestic business climate. The council headed by Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian was specifically tasked with proposing ways to eliminate “factors hampering the development of a market-based economy.”
The presidential decree coincided with Tigran Sarkisian’s visit to Brussels during which he presented the European Union with a new plan of economic and political reforms. The Armenian premier told senior EU officials that his government intends to “substantially step up its reform efforts.”
The EU and international lending institutions have long been pressing Armenia to carry out such reforms. Sarkisian’s government has already taken a range of measures in recent years aimed at improving tax administration and strengthening competition.
In an annual global report released in October 2011, the World Bank found a number of improvements in the Armenian business environment. In particular, it said the authorities have reduced the average number of tax payments made by businesses each year.
Yeghiazarian, who served as minister of economy in the 1990s, stressed that the success of the government’s latest reform drive will be primarily measured by Armenia’s future position in this and other international surveys. “Armenia’s current position there is not good,” he said. “There are bad and medium indicators. In terms of tax administration we still fare poorly.”
Vahagn Khachatrian, an economist representing the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), dismissed the planned legal revision, saying that laws and regulations are often irrelevant to doing business in the country. “What the country lacks is not laws but their enforcement, and that has nothing to do with the number of laws,” Khachatrian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).