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Armenian Tax Chief Sacked


Armenia - Eduard Hovannisian attends a meeting at the State Revenue Committee headquarters in Yerevan after being dismissed as SRC head, August 4, 2021.

The head of the State Revenue Committee (SRC) was sacked late on Tuesday despite achieving a more than 10 percent increase in the Armenian government’s tax revenues in the first half of this year.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian dismissed Eduard Hovannisian in an ongoing post-election reshuffle of his cabinet. Five of his ministers have also been replaced so far.

The new head of the SRC, Rustam Badasian, has served as justice minister for the past two years. He was in turned replaced by Karen Andreasian, Armenia’s human rights ombudsman from 2011-2016.

Pashinian praised Hovannisian’s track record and the SRC’s “stable performance” on Thursday when he presented Badasian to senior officials from the government agency comprising the national tax and customs services.

“But the truth is that there is never a surplus of money,” he said. “At every stage of its development -- and especially at this stage -- our state needs to conduct a more effective fiscal policy.”

Pashinian said he expects the 30-year-old Badasian to carry out “reforms” that will further improve tax administration and minimize corrupt practices among SRC officials.

The SRC collected 750 billion drams ($1.53 billion) in various taxes and customs duties in the January-June 2021. The figure was up from 680 billion drams collected in the same period of 2020. It also exceeded a 698 billion-dram revenue target set by the government for the first half of this year.

The sizable increase resulted from a continued fight against tax evasion and Armenia’s unfolding recovery from last year’s recession primarily caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The recession led to a serious drop in tax revenues, forcing the government to resort to large-scale external borrowing.

Badasian, who worked as a deputy head of the SRC from 2018-2019, said one of his main missions will be to maintain this year’s “good indicators.” He said he will also aim to ensure that businesses “get better tax and customs services.”

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