The Armenian government plans to spend by over $2 million less in 2017 for state administration needs, according to a draft budget presented in parliament committees this week.
The bulk of the cuts in the total amount of over 1 billion drams will not affect senior officials as the salaries, bonuses and allowances for trips will remain at almost the same level.
More than half of the costs, 550 million drams (about $1.2 million), will be cut by the presidential administration. Chief of presidential staff Armen Gevorkian told lawmakers on Tuesday that the money will mainly be saved at the expense of job cuts at the National Security Council.
Lawmakers, however, were more interested in the efficiency of spending of sizable allocations made from the presidential administration to different nongovernmental and non-profit organizations.
Opposition lawmaker Tigran Urikhanian, in particular, inquired about the efficiency of one such organization dealing with analysis and public relations.
Gevorkian replied: “Perhaps for a considerable part of the public at large it is something invisible, but at least I am convinced that very important work is being done, especially in the direction of responding to external information challenges.”
Asked by media why no costs are cut for the president proper, considering that Armenia has switched to a parliamentary form of government due to last year’s constitutional reform, Gevorkian said: “Put up with the idea that the institution of the Republic’s President will fully function in accordance with the powers vested in it by the current Constitution till April 2018.”
The National Assembly, meanwhile, is due to spend about 390 million drams (about $820,000) less. Hrair Tovmasian, the chief of National Assembly staff, said that the saving is due to the fact that the number of members of parliament after 2017 elections may be reduced from 131 to 101 under the reformed Constitution.
The executive will cut 176 million drams (about $370,000). Minister David Harutiunian, the chief of government staff, said that this saving is due mainly to the transfer of the 3rd government building to the state property registry.