The Armenian government has approved changes proposed in its structure, with two ministries expected to be merged and a new one to be created.
Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian, who chaired Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, suggested that the ministries of emergency situations and local government be reorganized into one ministry.
The change follows the resignation of Local Government Minister Armen Gevorkian on October 16. Since then the ministerial post as well as the post of deputy prime minister that Gevorkian combined have remained vacant.
It is yet unclear whether Armen Yeritsian, the current minister of emergency situations, will be asked to head the unified ministry.
Meanwhile, Abrahamian also suggested establishing a new ministry that will be in charge of “economic integration and reforms”. According to some media reports, former finance minister Vache Gabrielian, who currently serves as senior advisor to the prime minister, could be appointed to head this new ministry.
Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotian, who is also deputy chairman of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), said that the new ministry will be in charge of issues connected with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) that Armenia expects to become a member of beginning next year. “I think that it will also deal with Armenia-European Union cooperation, the development of a new agenda, relations of new type and quality with the EU especially in the economic sphere,” he said.
Vahram Baghdasarian, the leader of the HHK parliamentary faction, said it was important to set up the new ministry to facilitate interaction with the EEU, which opens up a market of 170 million people for Armenia. But members of the main opposition groups in Armenia have already challenged the wisdom of the move, describing it as potentially another waste of taxpayer money. Some of them stressed that the draft budget for 2015 submitted to the parliament last week did not envisage any funding for new ministries.
Chief of government staff David Harutiunian was instructed to submit the proposals to the National Assembly as a bill for priority consideration so that relevant amendments are made in the law on the government’s structure.