Armenian road constructors refuse to work without salary
By Abdul Kerimkhanov
The public environment in Armenia is heating up. Several dozen employees of the companies involved in the construction of the North-South Transport Corridor blocked the Ashtarak-Talin road section with the demand to pay their salaries.
Corsan Corviam Construccion S.A. company, which is a contractor in the implementation of the first and second tranche of the North-South Transport Corridor construction in Armenia, owed 19 subcontracting companies 2.2 billion drams (about $4.5 million). This equals the salaries of about 800 employees.
Gurgen Hovhannisyan, an employee of one of the companies, said that the road constructors did not receive a salary from August to November 2018 inclusive. He mentioned that the employees addressed Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan and Transport Minister Hakob Arshakyan, but the issue has not been resolved.
Hovhannisyan and the employees of the affected companies have been suffering this situation for almost half a year and now they decided to block the road, since they see no other way out at the moment.
Commenting on this problem for the press, Avinyan noted that it is impossible to pay salaries to employees, as it is not possible to use public funds to resolve issues of several companies.
Earlier, employees of the companies for the first time blocked the Yerevan-Talin road in December 2018.
Problems with the construction of the North-South Transport Corridor have occurred before. As part of the preliminary investigation of the criminal case involving the North-South Transport Corridor program, non-commodity transactions, cases of tax evasion and many other crimes were disclosed.
Preliminary investigation of the criminal case on implementation of the North-South Transport Corridor continues in the Prosecutor’s Office of Armenia. The Prosecutor's Office announced that there were facts of forgery, theft and malicious tax evasion.
The investigation established that during construction work at the Talin-Lanjik and Lanjik-Gyumri sites, two companies concluded an agreement on clearly unreasonable consulting services in June 2016. Based on these agreements in 2016-2018, tax invoices totaling about 1.2 billion drams ($2.5 million) were issued to one of these companies.
During the preliminary investigation it was found that the contracts were concluded in order to reduce tax liabilities. For this, bulk transactions were made, and false business activities were carried out. As for the tax accounts, no consulting services were provided within the framework of the mentioned agreements.
It was also proved that via the forged documents, the company's employees cashed about 600 million drams ($1.25 million) from the bank account in 2016-2017. These funds were transferred to the actual head of the company, and the amount was indicated in the cash register of the company as dividends issued to the company’s founder.
Thus, despite the fact that the problem takes its sources from the pre-revolutionary period, the current Armenian authorities are also unable to settle the issue of paying salaries to road constructors.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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