Since 2017 every working Armenian has been required to pay 1,000 drams (about $2) per month to a special fund set up for compensations paid to the families of soldiers killed or seriously wounded in action.
Under the compensation schemes, in addition to one-off payouts of between 5 million and 10 million drams ($10,000 and $20,000), the families of killed or maimed army officers, contract soldiers and conscripts receive monthly pensions ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 drams ($200-$600) for 20 years.
The ministry suggests that compulsory payments to the Army Insurance Fund be tripped – from 1,000 to 3,000 drams ($6) beginning in January 2021.
The amendment is yet to be submitted to parliament for approval. Before that it was put to public discussion in Armenia earlier this week.
Since the outbreak of ongoing hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians in Armenia and around the world have also been urged to increase their contributions to the Army Insurance Fund on a voluntary basis or make donations to it to help the families of soldiers killed or wounded in action.
So far, Armenian authorities have confirmed the deaths of 1,177 servicemen in battles against Azerbaijan. The death toll is only expected to rise as hostilities continue. Authorities have not provided statistics for the number of wounded soldiers, but it is believed there may be several thousands of them.
Artak Manukian, a member of the pro-government My Step faction in parliament, said on Friday that raising compulsory payments to the Army Insurance Fund is needed “to mitigate the [compensation] problem and fix it in the future.”
The opposition Prosperous Armenia and Bright Armenia factions have not yet presented their final positions on the bill, but representatives of both factions said they consider it unfair that all workers should be taxed evenly regardless of their incomes.
“It would be unfair if I, as a member of parliament with a high salary, contributed the same amount as those who receive a minimum or average salary,” Prosperous Armenia’s Naira Zohrabian said.
Bright Armenia faction leader Edmon Marukian also spoke in favor of gradating the payments for workers with different incomes.
But director of the Army Insurance Fund Varuzhan Avetikian explained that the proposal of opposition lawmakers cannot be implemented in a situation where many citizens do not fully declare their real incomes.
Avetikian said that the fund has already started paying compensations to the families of those killed or wounded in the current fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.