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Armenian Parliament Minority Groups Defy Government On 2013 Budget


Armenia -- The parliament building in Yerevan, undated

Armenia -- The parliament building in Yerevan, undated


The four political factions constituting the minority in the Armenian parliament have stepped up their criticism of the government over the 2013 draft budget, pledging to vote against what they described as a flawed document.

During a debate on the nation’s main financial document on Thursday the opposition factions of the Armenian National Congress (HAK), the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and the Heritage Party as well as the largest minority group, Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), which considers itself to be an “alternative” to the current government, said the proposed budget failed to properly address the social and economic problems facing Armenia.

With next year’s Gross Domestic Product projected to increase by 6.2 percent and public spending by roughly 10 percent to 1.15 trillion drams (some $2.85 billion), the government still has indicated that this growth would not entail any further rises in public sector salaries.

In her remarks during the debate the BHK parliamentary faction secretary, Naira Zohrabian, described the 2013 state budget as a “crawling” document.

“With this budget a citizen of Armenia can crawl at best. We value the dignity of Armenian citizens high and cannot vote in favor of a budget that will make them crawl, something that will encourage further outmigration,” stressed Zohrabian.

HAK lawmaker Hrant Bagratian also harshly criticized the government for the submitted draft. He, in particular, said that the document envisaging subsidies to some private companies will contribute to rather than curb corruption.

“Are we here to approve your subsidies to diesel fuel supplying companies? How can the government be talking about reducing corruption by subsidizing suppliers? Give the money to the farmers, they will know what to buy and where to buy it from,” said Bagratian.

Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian brushed aside the criticism, saying that the primary objective for the government is preventing unnecessary shocks in Armenia.

“There is a great temptation before the elections to submit a budget that would envisage a sharp rise in salaries, pensions and social benefits. But we’ve managed to resist this temptation as we are a responsible government,” Sarkisian underscored.

The budget debate in the Armenian parliament will continue, with the vote on the bill likely to be held the next time the lawmakers are in session in about two weeks’ time.
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