Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan traveled to Syunik Marz on March 7 to get acquainted with the activities and priorities completed in 2017, as well as the tasks set for 2018.
Reporting on the 2017 macroeconomic indicators, Syunik Marz Governor Vahe Hakobyan noted that the volume of industrial production made 275.04 billion drams, agriculture – 62.1 billion drams, construction – 18.08 billion drams, retail turnover – 19.4 billion drams, paid services – 35.5 billion drams.
Within the framework of investment and credit-supported development programs, AMD 40.2 billion was invested, 573 permanent jobs were created in the period under review. 52.2 billion drams will be invested and 1077 non-agricultural jobs shall be created in 2018.
As part of private sector investment projects, an Italian pizza enterprise has been set up in Kapan by Italian Food Corporation Ltd, with 10 jobs. In 2018, it is envisaged to provide some 70 jobs. USD 500 thousand was invested; all equipment was imported from Italy.
The enterprise has received Halal’s certificate, which allows it to export products to Iran. A multi-brand outlet store has opened in Kapan. 20 million drams have been invested, 10 jobs have been created.
The Governor noted that they have already applied to the Ministry of Transport, Communication and Technology to announce a tender for Kapan-Julfa bus route aimed at developing cooperation with the Iranian Free Trade Zone Representation.
The construction of the Kapan airport passenger terminal is underway. About 4.5 billion drams will be invested to create 15-25 jobs.
A movie theater, furnished with German equipment, will be inaugurated in Kapan on March 15. The investment volume is 140 million drams. 10-15 jobs will be created. In 2018, a USD 500,000-worth knitting factory (100 jobs, export market – Ukraine) will be commissioned in Lernadzor village of Kajaran community.
Within the framework of the tourism programs, ArmHydroEnergyProject CJSC submitted and the Government approved the Old Khndzoresk investment program with a total cost of USD 25-26 million to be implemented in 2018-2025. The volume of investment is projected at USD 4.3 million in 2018, with 100 jobs to be created under the program.
An extreme sports center featuring a zip-line compound will be built in Tatev community. The cost of the project is USD 1.7 million. It will be implemented in 3 stages, each of which will last 1 year, 130 jobs will be created. USD 1 million will be invested in 2018; the number of jobs is 40.
As a result of the implementation of private investment programs, 15% growth in business sector is expected in 2018.
The 2017 community-specific indicators are as follows: the actual collection of own revenues in 8 communities made 1,685.7 million drams, 21.2% more than in 2016. 1,902.9 million drams will be levied this year.
The Prime Minister instructed to conduct a comparative analysis based on other Marzes’ indicators in order to adjust the bases and ensure higher performance in terms of own revenues.
Garbage collection fees amounted to 229.4 million drams in 2017; expenditures – 310.4 million drams, expenditure-collection ratio – 74%. About 284.6 million drams will be levied and 357.2 million spent in 2018; the expenditure-collection ratio is 80%.
In 2017, garbage removal services were provided in 15 settlements for a total of 104,300 inhabitants. It is envisaged to service 33 settlements this year, with a population of 117,200 (84.5% of the population of Syunik Marz). 1862 garbage collection contracts have been signed with economic entities: it is envisaged complete the process by the end of March by signing relevant contracts with 2000 entities.
Pleased with the results of the work done so far and the accurate formulation of outstanding issues, Karen Karapetyan urged the Governor to continue at the same rate.
Coming to agriculture, it was reported that the region has 1113 hectares of orchards, of which 25 hectares are intensive orchards and the remaining 1028 hectares being traditional ones, about 60% of which are subject to refurbishment. It is planned to increase the area of intensive orchards by 45 hectares up to a total of 70 hectares in 2018.
There are 5 slaughterhouses operational in the Marz, It is envisaged to build 3 new slaughterhouses during this year. 48 units of agricultural machinery were acquired under different projects. Three tractors and six farm implements were purchased under the government-subsidized leasing program; 9 units of equipment will be leased this year; 7 applications have already been submitted to that effect. 1.2 billion drams will be invested in 2018 to provide 500 jobs amid the expected 5 percent growth.
The Head of Government noted that the bar should be set higher in 2018, taking into account the possibilities available in Syunik Marz, and instructed those responsible to work more actively with the local farmers.
The Prime Minister advised that a program similar to the ones implemented in the fields of intensive gardening, drip irrigation and financial leasing has been developed for cattle breeding. It will be presented on March 15, and farmers should be notified thereof.
“Sheep breeding in Syunik Marz boasts great potential because the Iranian market is too large. We have had effective talks with Iranian partners. Our exports to Iran stand at USD 25 million, less energy, while Iran imports USD 41.5 billion-worth commodities. We have agreed to set up an export-import company and endeavor toward increasing the volume of trade turnover. I do believe that one of Syunik Marz’s blue chips is its proximity to the Iranian market,” Karen Karapetyan pointed out.
Irrigated land in Syunik marz covers 8.2 thousand square meters. Actually irrigated are 4700 hectares. The main reason behind the shortfall is the lack of internal networks.
The Governor said that the issue of building a reservoir in Meghri region had been discussed with the State Water Management Committee. Currently, project documentation is being studied; the estimated project cost is about USD 2.5 million.
In this connection, Prime Minister Karapetyan said: “Irrigation water supply is our number one problem, that is to say, the bulk of our savings and revenues should be funneled toward ensuring adequate water supply. Part of our water strategy is as follows: from large reservoirs to small and medium reservoir construction involving private businesses. The program features 11 reservoirs, selected according to the business logic.
We will subsidize the reservoir’s project either at the stage of buying or construction. If, for example, the project cost is USD 10 million, and the private sector can provide 7 million dollars, then the State will cover the balance of 3 million. As a result, we will have a 10 million-strong reservoir formula with fairly low costs. I trust in the reservoir project and I consider it one of the fastest return-yielding programs in the public-private sector partnership format,” the Head of Government said and suggested discussing the matter with the business community in order to submit a business plan to the Government.
The Head of Syunik Marz Healthcare Department reported that paid services amounted to 151.2 million drams in 2016, 402.4 million drams – in 2017; the growth was 2.6 times. The proceeds of paid services are estimated at 482.0 million drams in 2018,, with a planned growth of 19.7 percent. The medical center in Goris will get an angiograph, and the invasive cardiology department will be functional by this yearend.
Concerning education, it was reported that there are 118 schools operational in Syunik Marz, all of them teach physical education; the level of foreign language teaching is also good.
In some schools, 3 foreign languages are being taught. The possibility of teaching Persian language in schools is being discussed at this point of time. Entrepreneurship has been introduced in 40 schools.
In those rural schools with no logistics-related problems, which make up 30-40 percent, there are different groups of extra-curricular activity.
The Prime Minister appreciated the work done in healthcare and education, and urged the stakeholders to continue working even better in these areas.
Karen Karapetyan was also presented the “Goris: CIS Cultural Capital-2018” program. Minister of Culture Armen Amiryan reported that 54 cultural events will be held in Goris, which will start on July 7-8 to continue till late autumn. About 250 artists from CIS countries together with official ministerial delegations will attend the events. Guests will come from neighboring and other countries. As Armen Amiryan noted, the program features a number of permanent events, including the symposium of CIS young sculptors, which will result in 22 sculptures to be unveiled in Goris, as well as the opening of Sero Khanzadyan’s museum, a bookstore-café, etc.
Welcoming the work done in this sphere, the Prime Minister emphasized that the events should be in harmony with the local colors and environment of Goris. “Goris has great tourism potential: it is a beautiful and well-organized city, and the main goal should be to make sure that the proposed events would not have a short-lived effect, but could add relish the tourist attraction of Goris,” Karen Karapetyan pointed out.