By Emil Danielyan
President Robert Kocharian has given Armenia’s top energy officials until next Sunday to ensure payment of the energy sector’s debts to the tax authorities which have resulted in a major shortfall in the government’s third-quarter budget revenues.
Meeting with representatives of the energy ministry and several other government agencies on Tuesday, Kocharian was quoted by his press service as ordering “very tough measures” against senior government officials who he said are among those “evading payments” for supplied electricity. But there was no word on who those officials are.
Minister for State Revenues Yervand Zakharian told RFE/RL over the weekend that the failure of Armenia’s energy generation and distribution companies to meet their tax obligations was the main cause of the shortfall. He said the energy sector must pay 12.5 billion drams ($22.3 million) to the state treasury before January in order for the government to meet the fourth-quarter revenue target of 53 billion drams set by the International Monetary Fund.
It is the main precondition for the release of the second $15 million tranche of the World Bank’s Structural Adjustment Credit (SAC-4). The $50 million loan is designed to cover nearly half of Armenia’s budget deficit.
Kocharian, reiterating his harsh criticism of the energy officials, said they must clear the debt within the next five days and make sure that “nobody gets privileged treatment.” Energy Minister Karen Galustian is to report on the results of the crackdown, according to the presidential press service.