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Members of the opposition factions in parliament leveled harsh criticism at the government over the draft budget for next year, claiming that it falls short of the ruling party’s promise of increased pensions and salaries in 2018.

Lawmaker Lena Nazarian from the opposition Yelk faction said: “The public must know that the Republican Party of Armenia and the government have failed to live up to their promise of raising pensions and the minimal salary.”

The opposition lawmaker reminded that while speaking in a television show ahead of the April parliamentary elections Prime Minister Karen Karapetian said that pensions and the minimal salary will be raised in 2018 “if everything continues at the same rate.”

Naira Zohrabian representing the Tsarukian Alliance’s parliamentary faction also mentioned the failture to raise pensions and salaries among the reasons for not voting against the government-drafted budget. “Besides, this budget does not curb disgraceful inflation, it cuts more than 5,500 jobs in the public sector, reduces spending for education and health,” she said.

The oppositionist also described the country’s demographic situation as “catastrophic”. She disagreed with Prime Minister Karapetian’s statement that how people feel economic growth is an immeasurable factor. “No, Mr. prime minister, this is quite a measurable factor. If you and your team felt at least for one day what an ordinary Armenian citizen feels, then you would surely not say that economic growth is an immeasurable factor,” Zohrabian charged.

The government promises to ensure a 4.5-percent growth of the Gross Domestic Product in 2018. It expects the industrial and services sectors to provide the bulk of this growth.

Deputy Parliament Speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, who represents the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, responded to the opposition’s criticism. “Instead of giving fish to our people we should teach them how to fish. With our contribution we should enable people to create conditions for themselves to catch that fish,” he said.

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