The extra-parliamentary Armenian National Congress (HAK) party led by ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosian has called on the government to abandon changes that it claims contradict the principles of the declared economic policy.
In a statement disseminated on Wednesday the HAK, which had earlier voiced political support for the government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, referred to a number of protests by representatives of small and medium-sized businesses, who it said raise legitimate demands to the authorities.
The HAK also cited the package of amendments to the tax legislation that was approved by the government on March 7 in which “separate bills hit the activities of small and medium-sized enterprises and affect the policy of promoting free enterprise.”
The party also addressed controversial amendments planned in the law on state duty, which envisage a significant increase in the rates of payments for licenses in the financial and credit sphere and which has caused discontent and protests among representatives of the sector.
In this connection, the HAK expressed concerns over risks to market liberalization, promotion of free economic competition and improvement of the business environment.
It said that the implementation of changes in the amount of annual payments for the organization of foreign currency trading and pawnshops by 60 times and the increase of 6 times for lending organizations will inevitably result in closures of most of over 220 individual foreign exchange buying and selling companies and reduction of jobs, as well as the elimination of the already weakened competition in the currency market. On the other hand, the party said, it will result in the closures of most pawnshops and serious obstacles to the activities of lending organizations that will eventually lead to more costly services and concentration of the lending market.
Dozens of workers of exchange offices and pawnshops have held protests in front of the government offices in recent weeks demanding revision of the policies.
In its statement the HAK also raised concerns over policies in relation to small and medium-sized enterprises, saying that “it is perplexing that principles of economic policies are subordinated to fiscal goals.”
The HAK suggests that before carrying out amendments in relevant laws the government should start discussions with all associations representing the financial and credit sector and other stakeholders.