On April 18, Media Center hosted a discussion-press-conference “Yerevan City Budget: Candidates’ Perspectives on Issues and Solutions”, with the invited speakers Vahe Nikoyan (RPA), Artsvik Minasyan (ARF), Poghos Plavchyan (PAP), Simon Ghonakhchyan (Barev Yerevan), Julietta Tadevosyan (OEK), Mesrop Arakelyan (Mission), leader of Alternative Research Center Tatul Manaseryan, president of Union of Community Financiers Vahan Movsisyan.
The participants touched upon the budget shortcomings, lack of transparency, inefficient allocation of money and other issues.
Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutyun’s Artsvik Minasyan stressed efficient supervision of budget implementation, which has to be done by the oppositional forces. He proposed to create an interactive budget providing daily revenue and expenditure indexes.
“In fact Yerevan budget is not 65 billion drams (around $156.2 million), if we take a closer look, 2013 budget is 80 billion drams ($192.3 million). Over the next four years it is possible to raise it up to 400 billion (over $9.615 billion), if the state dependence is lessened. Thirty percent of the income and profit taxes collected from Yerevan should go to Yerevan budget,” said Minasyan.
Poghos Plavchyan, who is for the city hall running businesses, said he does not think it feasible to implement all the projects in short term within the current Yerevan budget.
“The city hall has to be provided with necessary financial means, regardless of the fact whether the money would be taken from the government or new income taxes would be set,” said Plavchyan.
OEK representative Julietta Tadevosyan is convinced that the budget can be increased by making necessary deductions from the profit taxes collected from economic entities operating in Yerevan.
“Condominiums, too, could solve important issues, but they are poorly managed. With the collected money some residential building issues can be solved,” he said.
Artsvik Minasyan’s claim that the Yerevan budget is in fact 80 billion and, that fact is being concealed, was disputed by Vahe Nikoyan. He also disagreed with the idea of separating the Yerevan budget from the general state budget.
“It is the same as raising the budget for Yerevan by decreasing the state budget,” he said.
Barev Yerevan alliance representative believes the city council has to implement a proportionate, balanced money allotment project.
“Proportionate development is one of Yerevan’s most important issues. Cultural centers have to be created in different administrative areas, control bodies should be moved around. There are numerous projects with no mechanisms of efficiency assessment and control. We intent to apply project budgeting,” said Simon Ghonakhchyan.
It is not the community that should run businesses competing with economic entities, but projects should be carried out to boost public welfare, said Mesrop Arakelyan.
“Budget is unpredictable, for example, by the adoption of the new changes in state duties, 1,000-6,000 dram ($2.5-$15) payment has been established for food catering small businesses, which they were forced to pay within three days. In such case the changes should be applied within three years’ time,” he suggested.
President of Union of Community Financiers Vahan Movsisyan said the Yerevan city budget and laws are in need of profound improvements, and what party representatives suggest has absolutely nothing to do with the Yerevan budget.
“First of all Yerevan cannot run businesses and make money on that, hence counting on it is unrealistic. You say the budget is participatory. Well, maybe, formally such steps are taken, but it is not participatory. In late March of 2011, when the executive plan for 2010 was being discussed, there was nobody besides the city council members in the hall, so the discussion took 45 seconds and it was approved,” Movsisyan voiced his concerns.
Tatul Manaseryan leading Alternative Research Center as a solution to the proportionate development issue suggested that certain privileges be granted especially to those administrative areas where manufacturing can be developed.
Full video footage of the discussion can be found at (link)