Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan visited Kotayk marz to get acquainted with the results of regional and community development programs in 2017, as well as the activities planned for 2018.
“Today, we are starting our regional visits. Last year, we took some steps to understand the management and reporting formats, the indicators to compare and the tasks to be set each year. In 2018, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development has formed the final structure of Marz governance – an architecture that will comprise all the spheres,” Karen Karapetyan said, adding that the Marz administrations have already drafted their development programs for 2017-2025.
“The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development described them as very serious documents that emphasize the horizons of marzes. So, we are in for a quite an exciting year, and I am confident that productive work will be done,” the Premier said, underlining that “we have good prospects to secure economic growth in the coming years, which will give us grounds for serious reforms at all levels of governance.”
Presenting the works aimed at improving the socio-economic situation and macroeconomic indicators in the region, Kotayk Marz Governor Karapet Guloyan noted that during the last year significant positive indicators were recorded. In total, 60 billion drams of private investment projects were implemented in the region, of which 25.5 billion – in industry, 5 – in agriculture, 10.9 – in tourism, 0.5 – in energy, 6.2 – in trade and service, 9.9% – in information technologies. In general, about 2000 new jobs have been created in the region. In 2018, 66 billion drams will be spent on private investment projects in industry, agriculture, tourism and other areas, which will result in 2100 new jobs.
Speaking about business promotion, Karen Karapetyan noted that it is necessary to consider the possibility of handing over to the private sector, even for free, any such idle public or community property as may help implement specific investment programs and create jobs.
Agriculture is one of the promising directions for development of the region. It was reported that the number of greenhouses increased by 20 hectares in 2017. the existing greenhouses reached 81 hectares. It is envisaged to increase the number of greenhouses to 115.4 hectares in 2018. In 2017, the number of intensive orchards has increased by 200 hectares, reaching the mark of 912 hectares. They are expected to rise to 1137 hectares this year.
The responsible officers reported that they are planning to increase the number of intensive orchards by 200-250 hectares in the coming years. Irrigated land increased by 5 thousand hectares in the period under review. It is planned to increase it by another 12 thousand hectares in 2018, as a result of which irrigated land will cover 116 thousand hectares.
In this regard, the Prime Minister emphasized that the State is consistently increasing the amount of irrigated land, and it is deemed necessary to take steps to promote private water reservoirs. One more cattle-breeding farm is due to be built in the province in 2017 in addition to the existing two farms, which will take the number of livestock up to 2070 from 1810.
Karen Karapetyan noted that this year the Government will pay special attention to cattle-breeding, implementing subsidizing programs, as “our country does not face a market-related problem, given the special trade regimes we have with EAEU, EU, USA and Iran.” In this regard, the Prime Minister urged the provincial governorships to increase the development of breeding farms and raise the bar for the 2018 quota.
In general, the State and private investors implemented an investment program of 5.8 billion drams last year in the agricultural sector, creating 400 new jobs. In the current year, it is expected to implement as many investment projects and create 450 new jobs.
The activities aimed at setting up slaughterhouses, agricultural machinery and pedigree farms were also reported. In the sphere of industrial production, AMD 162 billion was registered in 2017 against AMD 136 billion in 2016. Construction works worth 43 billion drams were implemented in Kotayk last year. Compared to 2016, this figure has increased by 350%.
The Prime Minister attached importance to the development of the construction sector and instructed to take concrete steps to simplify the provision of construction permits. Tourism is a priority area in the Marz: there are 80 hotels and recreation complexes; 420,000 tourists visited the region in 2016. This figure increased by 70,000 to 490,000 in 2017.
Referring to community indicators, Governor Guloyan informed that the communities’ own revenues increased by 30% in average in 2017. Per capita income amounted to 12.5 thousand drams in 2017 against 9.5 thousand in 2016. It is expected that in 2018 the index of own revenues will reach 14.7 thousand drams per capita. In the communities, the share of own revenues in total revenues was 42.3 percent in 2017 versus 35.5 in 2016. It is expected that this figure will reach 46.7% this year. Under the Clean Armenia program, 165 garbage dumps have been closed during nationwide and local cleanup campaigns. It is envisaged to close another nine dumps in the current year.
According to the Governor, 10 other dumps will be shut down as a result of the construction of a waste processing plant in Hrazdan. Last year, the natural persons contributed more than 57 million drams for garbage collection as compared with 2016, and this figure reached 297.1 million drams. It is envisaged to increase the receipts from individuals by AMD 100 million in 2018. Garbage collection fees collected from legal entities have also grown. It is expected to increase the figure to 160 million drams this year against 110 million drams collected. According to Karapet Guloyan, the total cost of garbage collection in the region will make 579mln drams in 2018, and the collected sum will reach the mark of 558mln drams.
Prime Minister Karapetyan expressed satisfaction with the collection rates, noting hat in this case Kotayk marz comes to self-sufficiency. “We will not call off the State subsidy for waste management, and it is up to you to decide which way these funds will be spent,” the Head of Government said.
AMD 550 million was allocated from the State budget in 2017 within the framework of urgent programs calling for priority solutions in communities. These funds were funneled toward the solution of the most urgent problems in 18 communities and, at the moment, construction activities are being carried out. It was noted that AMD 168 million was saved up and returned to the State budget.
As regards education, it was reported that one school was optimized last year. It is envisaged to optimize another one in the current year. It was reported that the teacher-pupil ratio in the region is 11.8%, and the number of pupils increased by 600 in 2017.
In response to the question raised by the Prime Minister, it was noted that 21 out of 90 schools in Kotayk Marz have three mandatory foreign languages on the academic curriculum, with video lessons organized periodically in collaboration with foreign educational institutions.
The share of paid services in the basket of healthcare services was 40 percent in 2017 versus 31 percent in 2016. This figure is expected to reach 49.2% this year. The total amount of paid services has reached 376.1 million drams, against 331 million in 2016. It is envisaged to increase this index by 2018 to about 450 million drams.
Summing up the meeting, Karen Karapetyan pointed out, “We have a lot to do in 2018. I expect the community heads and other partners to work very efficiently this year. We must take stock of all problems and solutions, understand our capabilities, collect resources and move forward gradually. Whoever shoulders a burden will always have our support so that we can push ahead by helping each other.”