Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian made clear on Wednesday that the Armenian government will not initiate a criminal investigation into what he considers a serious waste of scarce public funds allotted to unemployed people.
Sarkisian told the parliament earlier this week that as much as 94 percent of the modest unemployment benefits have been paid in recent years to individuals not eligible for such assistance. He said this is why his government is right to seek a complete abolition of the benefits worth 18,000 drams ($45) per month.
The proposed measure has been strongly criticized by opposition politicians and some sections of the Armenian media. Some opposition lawmakers have described Sarkisian’s claim as a “crime report” that must be investigated by the police or other law-enforcement bodies.
Sarkisian ruled out the prosecution of any government officials or social workers, however, saying that an “inefficient mechanism,” rather than concrete individuals, is responsible for the alleged misuse of unemployment benefit funds.
“We should not focus on looking for the guilty. We should discuss a strategy of replacing an inefficient system with an efficient one,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“We are talking not about individuals but replacing inefficient mechanisms by efficient mechanisms,” added the premier.
Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General confirmed later in the day that it will not open a criminal case on the matter without a formal complaint from the government.