By Ruzanna Khachatrian
President Robert Kocharian dismissed Energy Minister Karen Galustian on Tuesday, just one week after harshly criticizing Armenia’s top energy officials for the sector’s big tax debts.
Galustian, who held the post for less than two years, was replaced by Armen Movsisian, the deputy head of the State Committee on Water Resources. Movsisian, 39, worked as deputy minister of energy last year.
Kocharian had given the energy ministry until last Sunday to ensure better enforcement of electricity bills and ordered “very tough measures” against senior government officials “evading payments” for supplied power. Galustian, who was told to report on the results of the crackdown, has submitted a list of such officials. Their names have not been publicized yet, however.
The Armenian ministry for state revenues has blamed power plants and distribution companies for a major shortfall in tax revenues in the third-quarter of the year. But Galustian and other energy officials counter that the sector is itself owed substantial sums by various government agencies.
Officials in Kocharian’s administration would not comment on possible reasons for Galustian’s replacement. But the deputy speaker of the parliament, Tigran Torosian, said the move is part of Kocharian’s efforts to reduce financial losses incurred by the energy sector.