The chief of President Serzh Sarkisian’s staff revealed on Wednesday that it will shrink by half after Armenia switches to a parliamentary system of government in April.
Armen Gevorgian said that staff cuts in the presidential administration are already in progress.
“We began the year with 410 employees, reduced [their number] to 385 by June 1 and to 330 by October 1,” Gevorgian told a standing committee of the Armenian parliament. It is expected that the next president of the republic will have only 180 to 200 staffers, he said.
Government funding for the presidential staff will be cut accordingly. In Gevorgian’s words, the government’s draft budget for next year sets aside 2.4 billion drams ($5 billion) for that purpose, down from 4.9 billion drams budgeted for this year.
Sarkisian’s second and final presidential term ends in April. His successor will be elected by the parliament, rather than popular vote, and have largely ceremonial powers.
In line with a controversial constitutional reform enacted by Sarkisian in 2015, most of the currently sweeping presidential powers will be transferred to the prime minister and his cabinet that must enjoy the backing of the parliamentary majority.
Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) controls the majority of seats in the National Assembly elected in April 2017. Neither the outgoing president nor his party has indicated so far who could become Armenia’s next head of state. It also remains unclear whether Sarkisian is planning to become prime minister or take up another state post after the end of his decade-long presidency.