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Tobacco Firm Remains Armenia’s Top Taxpayer


Armenia -- Workers at a tobacco fermentation factory in the town of Masis.

An Armenian tobacco company remained the country’s number one corporate taxpayer in the first half of this year, the State Revenue Committee (SRC) said on Monday.

The government agency comprising the national tax and customs services reported that the company, Grand Tobacco, paid 26.3 billion drams ($54 million) in various taxes in January-June.

The national gas distribution company owned by Russia’s Gazprom giant was the second most important contributor to Armenia’s state budget, followed by the country’s largest mining company, the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Combine (ZCMC). The SRC collected 26 billion drams and 21.6 billion drams respectively from these companies.

Armenia’s 20 leading businesses also include other tobacco and mining firms, fuel importers, telecommunication operators, a supermarket chain, two banks and the Metsamor nuclear plant. The SRC detailed their fiscal payments in a quarterly report listing the country’s 1,000 largest corporate taxpayers. The latter paid a combined 492.7 billion drams (just over $1 billion) in taxes in the six-month period, according to the report.

The figure accounted for more than 72 percent of all taxes and other duties collected by the SRC. The Armenian government’s first-half tax revenue was down by 4.6 percent year on year, reflecting the coronavirus-driven recession in the country.

Armenia - A tobacco field.
Armenia - A tobacco field.

Grand Tobacco and two other local tobacco firms are part of the Grand Holding group founded by Hrant Vartanian, a prominent businessman who died in 2014.The conglomerate, which also comprises the country’s largest chocolate and confectionery manufacturer, is now owned and run by Vartanian’s two sons. Much of the tobacco used by it is grown in Armenia.

The Armenian cigarette manufacturers have rapidly expanded since 2013 on the back of their soaring cigarette exports to the Middle East and Iraq in particular. According to government data, Armenian exports to Iraq stood at about $58 million in the first five months of this year. Cigarettes accounted for most of those exports.

Grand Tobacco became Armenia’ second largest taxpayer in 2018 and topped the tax rankings last year with 57 billion drams ($118 million) in total payments.

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