Two Armenian ministers openly objected on Thursday to Prime Minister Karen Karapetian’s plans to change the names of two government ministries in a way that might affect their work.
A relevant bill initiated by Karapetian would, among other things, rename the Ministry of Economy the Ministry for Investments and Business Support.
“We want to make it clear to entrepreneurs and investors that there is an agency to which they can present their grievances, demands, desires, objections and advice, and that structure will look after them to ensure that they face no obstacles,” Karapetian explained during a cabinet meeting in Yerevan.
Economy Minister Artsvik Minasian spoke out against the proposed name change which requires parliamentary approval. “Removing the word ‘economy’ is not desirable to me as the acting economy minister, especially given that I think the economy is not just about investments and support for entrepreneurship,” he said.
The proposed bill would also weaken Minasian’s ministry by placing its department on information technology (IT) under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. It would be called the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology.
Minasian voiced his objections one week after a tense verbal exchange with Karapetian. The latter bluntly questioned the economy minister’s request to grant a legal tax incentive to a private firm. “I don’t believe it,” Karapetian said on September 15 in response to further explanations given by Minasian.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) party, of which Minasian is a senior member, hit back the following day, criticizing the premier’s behavior as a political “show.” Dashnaktsutyun is represented in the government by three ministers in line with a power-sharing deal reached with President Serzh Sarkisian in February.
Karapetian was also challenged on Thursday by Culture Minister Hasmik Poghosian after proposing the Ministry for Urban Development’s transformation into a Committee on Architecture and Preservation of Cultural Values.
Poghosian argued that her ministry already has a division tasked with protecting historical monuments. “In my view, merging urban development with the preservation of cultural monuments would mean that we seriously jeopardize the preservation of our historical-cultural heritage,” she warned.
It is still not clear whether Minasian and Poghosian will be appointed to a new cabinet which is being formed by Karapetian. Only 6 of its 18 or 19 ministers have been named so far.