The Armenian government’s tax revenues soared by about 25 percent in the first half of this year, the head of the State Revenue Committee (SRC), Davit Ananian, said on Tuesday.
Figures released by Ananian show that the sharp rise was made possible by about 63 billion drams ($132 million) in additional taxes and other duties collected by the SRC in this period.
Armenia’s 2019 state budget calls for a total of almost 651 billion drams in first-half tax revenues, up from 572 billion drams in the year-earlier period. The SRC surpassed that target, collecting over 713 billion drams ($1.5 billion), according to Ananian.
Ananian cautioned that his agency’s performance will not necessarily be just as strong in the second half of this year.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian promised an additional budgetary revenue of at least 62 billion drams at a May 8 news conference in Yerevan. Meeting with foreign diplomats in Yerevan two weeks later, Pashinian said his government has already raised that sum thanks to “a little trick.” He did not elaborate.
Ananian likewise did not specify factors behind the surplus when he met with the press. The SRC chief reported only a 21 percent rise in the monetary value of cash receipts issued by Armenian shops, restaurants and other businesses in January-June 2019.
Pashinian regularly urges Armenians to demand such receipts when buying goods and services in order to prevent businesses from evading taxes. He has said that this is essential for the success of an “economic revolution” promised by him.
Pashinian’s government pledged to crack down on widespread tax fraud when it took office following the April-May 2018 “Velvet Revolution.” Armenia’s tax revenues rose by over 14 percent, to 1.3 trillion drams ($2.7 billion), last year. They were projected to reach 1.4 trillion drams in 2019.
Pashinian said in May that most of the extra taxes collected by the authorities will be spent on road construction. They have also allowed 10 percent increases in the salaries of schoolteachers and military personnel.
In Ananian’s words, the improved fiscal performance is also enabling the government to finance its recent decision to make healthcare free for all citizens aged under 18.