No feeding the public with petty “disclosures”
On February 1, US Ambassador to Armenia, Richard Mills, in his extensive speech at the event organized by the Armenian-American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), again stressed the idea that corruption can impact and threaten national security, noting, “When I mentioned the intersection between corruption and national security in my speech to the AmCham 15 months ago, many people were surprised, many were dismissive. I don’t claim credit at all, but I think this issue is now more frankly addressed in Armenian political debates, and with proposals for serious action from the government than it has been in the past. Certainly, the public discourse during and after the Four-Day War in April highlighted the corrosive effect corruption can have on national security and brought the issue into the public spotlight.”
Encouraged by the Prime Minister’s public commitment to tackle corruption, the US Ambassador offered two specific suggestions for the government to consider, “One fix would be for the Government to make clear that the launching of an investigation into possible corrupt activities by a government official does not require specific evidence of an actual bribe paid or a favor given, but could be triggered by a prosecutor’s assessment that the assets declared by a government official are so great as to trigger reasonable grounds of suspicion. Armenian media has done a very good job of analyzing ethics declarations and identifying instances where officials declare assets that are 40, 50 or one hundred times greater than their government salaries, but there was no indication of follow-up by the Government.”
The US ambassador, no more no less, has accused the RA government of inefficient operation, in other words, throwing dust into people’s eyes. He reminded about the destructive impact of the country corruption in the discourse emerged specifically after the four-day war in April.
Over the years, we are talking about the abuse by unscrupulous officials, embezzlements, astronomical possessions, and enormous damages caused to the country, however, no mechanism of accountability functions. After resigning from the offices, some time later, these officials either appear in a new position or continue to live a prosperous life abroad, or at worst, declare themselves as an “opposition” saving the “nation from traitorous power”. Mr. Mills’ remarks are particularly relevant for Karen Karapetyan’s management because what is announced differs from reality.
Let us give an example. It appeared that the name of economic entities who had allowed millions of violations have become known, of which SRC have complained to the Prime Minister. In the end of the year, a few tens of economic entities have concealed millions of taxes from the state, says the documents issued by the tax inspection. And what do you think, what concealed taxes we are talking about, what damages are caused to the state, what sizes of damages we have managed to reveal…? It turns out that it is only about a maximum of AMD 1-2 million. The sizes of concealed taxes causing damage to the state are indeed from the genre of mockery, for example, such data about the sizes of caused damage were identified: 68 thousand 100 drams, 54 thousand 160 drams, 40 thousand drams, 37 thousand 800 drams. On January 13, at the press conference when the reporter asked Karen Karapetyan whether he finds common ground with the oligarchs, and whether, for example, he can say not to increase the prices of sugar or flour, he replied, “Do you consider that it is my function …?”, “I feel myself very comfortable and secure with the oligarchs.”
And whose function is it …? In any country where the truly reforms-seeking leader of the government really wants and is striving to change a situation and atmosphere he at least should have stated that unfortunately, there are oligarchs, and his government has failed to eradicate this system for now and to identify the damage caused to the country. But what does our Prime Minister say? He not only consider his function to take measurements against those who have created monopolies, moreover, he states that he feels “very comfortable” with the “oligarchs”.
This is a “nonsense”, and this underlies in the speech of US Ambassador. Karen Karapetyan has indeed assumed the management of the government in a very difficult situation, and everybody realizes this without exaggeration, however, he took the office 5 months ago and surely, he does not have much time. It makes no sense to feed the public with petty “disclosures” instead of real actions. It is worth mentioning here a paragraph from Serzh Sargsyan’s speech on February 2 at the meeting with “Andranik Margaryan” political school students, “Populism may probably be good at certain moments – three days, or five, seven, fifteen, ok – six months, but thank God, our society is able to realize very soon who is capable of what.”