For the first three weeks of 2018, prices of gasoline, gas and diesel fuel increased twice in Armenia.
The Armenian media report an unprecedented rise in prices for gasoline both in euros and Armenian drams. Before the last rise in prices, the price of gasoline in Armenia grew 100 drams or 30.3 percent for the year and by 0.09 euros (a 14 percent growth for the year).
The first rise in prices was conditioned by the changes in Armenia’s tax legislation, and to be more precise, the increase in excise tax and the introduction of VAT on liquefied gas and diesel fuel, respectively. The second rise in prices has no objective reasons, but experts agree that the growth was triggered by the desire of sellers to ensure their profits. The experts also predict another increase in prices after the upcoming election in Armenia.
The rise in fuel prices inevitably affected the prices of consumer products. Moreover, experts express concern that the current situation will lead to an increase in transport tariffs.
Considering that five years earlier the attempt to change the fare for public transport in Yerevan led to mass protests, which forced the mayor of the Armenian capital to cancel own decision, the authorities didn’t dare play with fire once again and immediately made a refutation.
“About 80 percent of the motor transport operating in Armenia and implementing passenger transportation uses liquefied gas, the price of which has risen from 190 drams to 210 drams (about 43 cents) since the beginning of the year, just like it was in 2015,” said Arman Khachatryan, deputy minister of transport, communication and information technologies of Armenia. “This means that economic entities already worked under similar conditions and didn’t raise tariffs. That is, one shouldn’t expect an increase in prices now as well.”
However, the price hike made it impossible to avoid mass unrest in Armenia.
Yelq (Exit) opposition political faction on Feb. 5 held the second protest rally for the year and initiated an extraordinary session of the parliament. Tsarukyan bloc also joined the movement against the rise in prices.
Edmon Marukyan, MP from the Yelq faction, said in an interview with Armenian journalists that an extraordinary meeting will be convened. Touching upon the parliamentary discussions on the price increase, the MP noted that the hearings were allegedly organized to mitigate the situation, but became a mockery.
Indeed, the comments by the head of the Central Bank of Armenia, who justified the rise in prices for butter by its nutritional qualities, can only be called a mockery.
Patience of the Armenian people will sooner or later near its limit and another protest will start. After all, the situation in the country has become unbearable. Experts have been long talking about the population decline in Armenia.
From 1998 to 2007, 129,300 people left Armenia, whereas from 2008 to 2015, during the reign of incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan, 307,600 people left the country, which is more than 10 percent of Armenia's total population.
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