The government agency comprising the national tax and customs services reported that the company, Grand Tobacco, paid 50.7 billion drams ($97.5 million) in various taxes. Excise tax on cigarettes generated two-thirds of the sum.
The national gas distribution company owned by Russia’s Gazprom giant was the second most important contributor to the Armenian state budget, followed by the country’s largest mining company, the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Combine (ZCMC). The SRC collected 45.5 billion drams and 41.7 billion drams respectively from these companies in 2020.
Armenia’s 20 leading businesses also include other tobacco and mining firms, fuel importers, telecommunication operators, a supermarket chain 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 987.6 billion drams ($1.9 billion) in taxes in 2020, according to the report. The figure accounted for more than 72 percent of all taxes and other duties collected by the SRC.
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 exports to the Middle East and Iraq in particular.
According to government data, Armenian exports to Iraq stood at $149 million in January-November 2020. Cigarettes accounted for most of those exports.
Grand Tobacco became Armenia’ second largest taxpayer in 2018 and topped the tax rankings in 2019 with 57 billion drams in total payments.