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“Zhamanak” reports and comments on a major fall in common customs revenues which Armenia is due to receive from the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) this year. Officials in Yerevan have said that the shortfall will likely total roughly 2 billion drams ($4.2 million). “The reason is very clear: the economic situation within the EEU is not good and imports [to EEU member states] are weak,” writes the paper. “The imports are weak because sanctions have been imposed on Russia, leading the latter to retaliate by banning some Western countries from exporting goods to Russia.” It notes that the Armenian authorities promised that the customs revenues will rise when they defended their decision to join the EEU in 2013.

“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” is unimpressed by a government announcement that imports of bananas to Armenia are no longer controlled by a single company controlled by a man who headed a powerful law-enforcement agency until recently. “If the health minister says, for his part, that no importer has been injured as a result, we will be able to conclude that Armenia’s economy has been rescued,” the pro-opposition paper says sarcastically.

“Haykakan Zhamanak” dismisses as not credible a further slight reduction in poverty in Armenia which was reported by the National Statistical Service (NSS) on Monday. “The way in which the NSS did such arithmetical miracles requires separate research,” comments the paper. “We can only remind that the purchasing power of our population fell so much in 2015 that the volume of retail trade shrunk by more than 10 percent. Only the agency headed by Stepan Mnatsakanian can register a drop in poverty amid declining consumer spending.”

“Aravot” wonders why skilled professionals having well-paid jobs would agree to work for the Armenian government even if they are offered high-ranking positions. Some of the recently appointed members of Prime Minister Karen Karapetian’s cabinet are such individuals. The paper suggests that they may be “people who have gotten rich in an honest, dishonest or quasi-honest way and can afford to spend their accumulated savings for a few years.” “But that is not a solution,” it says. “Let’s assume that such people will not take bribes, acquire new businesses or launch fictitious project implementation offices and will sincerely serve the state. But what about deputy ministers, heads of ministry departments and other senior officials? Unlike the ministers, many of them are not millionaires and cannot live off their savings.” The paper believes that the only workable solution is to raise their salaries considerably.

(Tigran Avetisian)

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