By Atom Markarian
Senior tax officials from the Commonwealth of Independent States held a one-day meeting in Yerevan on Thursday to discuss ways of coordinating their measures against the widespread tax evasion across the former Soviet Union.
The heads of tax collecting agencies of the twelve ex-Soviet states signed several agreements which they said will complicate cross-border economic crimes. The agreements provide for joint inquiries, exchange of information about tax evaders and training of personnel.
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian said in his address to the participants of the meeting that the tax evasion has become a serious hindrance to the economic development of the CIS member-countries. He said cooperation among their tax authorities should also encompass other related crimes such as money laundering.
Officials at the Armenian ministry for state revenues are particularly interested in cooperating with their Russian colleagues because of the large number of Armenians living in Russia. The head of the ministry’s department of investigations, Sarkis Grigorian, said the authorities would like to “obtain information about their revenues” as many of them are doing business in Armenia. “That really interests us,” he said.
In all CIS countries the informal or “shadow” sectors of the economy are far bigger than in the more developed economies of the world not least because of rampant corruption among tax collectors. The chief of Russian tax police, Mikhail Fradkov, acknowledged that the shadow economy equals more than 40 of his country’s Gross Domestic Product. The situation is very similar in Armenia.