The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) stands ready to help Prime Minister Karen Karapetian combat widespread tax evasion, including among its wealthy members, an HHK spokesman said on Thursday.
Meeting with the leadership of Armenia’s largest business association on Wednesday, Karapetian said the informal sector of the domestic economy is a serious hurdle to faster economic growth and higher leaving standards. “If we don’t tackle the informal sector this country won’t become a [prosperous] country, no matter what we do,” he said.
“Yes, I agree,” HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), commenting on Karapetian’s remarks. “We have always taken steps and said that there are a number of problems in Armenia, including corruption, tax evasion, and injustice.”
The Armenian government’s tax revenue has increased considerably in absolute terms in the past several years. But it is still equivalent to only one-fifth of Gross Domestic Product, a low figure even by ex-Soviet standards.
The modest ratio results, in large measure, from widespread tax evasion, corruption and privileged treatment of entrepreneurs linked to the government. Some of the tycoons that have long been accused of underreporting their earnings are affiliated with the HHK.
Asked whether the Armenian authorities are ready to crack down on HHK members suspected of tax evasion, Sharmazanov said: “Yes, they are ready, always ready.”
The HHK spokesman, who is also a deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, blamed the authorities’ failure to do so until now on “objective and subjective” factors. “I’m not the kind of politician who looks back,” he added. “We should look ahead and help the prime minister and the government implement their ambitious programs.”