By Rashid Shirinov
The new year began quite unsuccessfully for ordinary population of Armenia. As expected, a wave of price hike has hit the country right from the beginning of 2018.
Following the amendments to the Tax Code and increase of the excise taxes, the prices for gasoline, gas and diesel fuel have already risen. However, the coordinator of the Armenian NGO “Union of Informed Citizens” Daniel Ioannisyan believes that the rise in price is caused not only by changes in excise rates. For example, excise taxes on diesel fuel have decreased, but its price has risen sharply.
“We are dealing with an unhealthy economy. According to our calculations, the price of gasoline should have risen by 10 drams, but it has increased even more,” Ioannisyan has recently told Lragir.am.
In addition, given that new customs rates of the Customs Code of the Eurasian Economic Union have come into force, goods imported from third countries will also rise in price.
Chairman of the Union of Employers of Armenia Gagik Makaryan predicts a total rise in prices already in 2018.
“The rise in price of gasoline and gas will affect all sectors of the economy. Taking the opportunity, they increased the prices by more than it was expected,” he noted.
Of course, all this causes discontent of the country’s population, which has already suffered much right from Armenia’s independence in 1990s. Vast majority of the people have long wished to see a reliable and prudent politician as the leader of the country.
Next presidential elections in Armenia are scheduled for March 2018. However, unfortunately for the population, there is a strong possibility that the current president Serzh Sargsyan will continue to lead the country as a prime minister, since Armenia transitioned to the parliamentary form of government according to the changes in the Constitution in 2015. Rights activist and head of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor office Artur Sakunts is sure of this development.
“Serzh Sargsyan will move from the presidency to the position of the prime minister or to any other post, where he will be the sole leader. I do not find that the composition of the government will change with such a modification,” he told 1in.am.
The rights activist noted the essential truth – for all the years of Sargsyan’s presidency, his efforts were not aimed at the implementation of changes in the country. The changes, the purpose of which would be the implementation of constitutional principles are creation of a legal, democratic and sovereign state.
“His only goal has always been the strengthening of his personal power,” Sakunts noted.
Indeed, for almost 10 years of ruling the country, Sargsyan was unable to improve the life of the country’s citizens. The economic and social situation is still doleful – inflation, weak economy, low foreign investment, falling exports, corruption, unemployment, poverty and many other problems remain unresolved.
The National Statistical Service of Armenia says that approximately 30 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty. This is only the official figure – the real situation is most likely even more terrible.
This is, of course, the fault of the Armenian government, which has not been able to change the situation in the poor country during almost three decades. Seeing this, more and more people in Armenia decide to leave the country for good. The statistics say that over the past 20 years, 1,200,000 people left the country – this accounts for more than a third of modern Armenia’s population.
The ongoing rise in prices will obviously cause further resentment of the population. In this regard, there are two scenarios – thousands of people will either continue their exodus from the country or they will rise up against the incapable authorities.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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