Chop Talk: Residents meet to discuss which laws impede their progress

The National Center for Legislative Regulation project implementation office, a state institution founded in October, 2011, to operate under the government staff of the Republic of Armenia, has been and will be holding public discussion titled "Regulatory Guillotine Project in Armenia”, with the support of the United Nations Development Program. The project launched last Friday (May 31) in Ijevan, in the north of Armenia and will continue in other parts of the country. 

The project is targeted for beneficiaries outside Yerevan and is aimed at presenting the guillotine project to common people, business communities, NGO and local government representatives, get their feedback on the challenges of today’s legislative field as well as hear out their suggestions on possible improvements through interactive discussions. 

Varsha Redkar-Palepu, Assistant Resident Representative at UNDP, says successful implementation of this project in other countries has yielded 3-4 percent increase of GDP. 

"This project stands out by the fact that some 20,000 legislative acts will be reviewed and guillotined, and besides, it is designed to help businesses to operate saving time and money,” he says. 

In the first part of the discussion Tavush-based NGO, business community, and local government representatives were presented a glossary of legislative acts regulating business processes, with their respective definitions, drafted by the National Center for Legislative Regulation and e-Guillotine, then the more than 50 participants were divided into teams to discuss taxes and customs duties, entrepreneurship, socials and community development issues. The teams later presented their conclusions to the Center, which will consider them during the overall review and amendment processes of Armenia’s legislative field.

Geghetsik Gulakyan, heading Progress NGO dealing with community issues in Ijevan, says during the public discussions many spoke about the service charge for gas and suggested that it should be paid on per-visit bases, instead of the current fixed compulsory payment. 

An employee of Gandzakar village administration, in Tavush, says agricultural reports are way too lengthy, with too much unnecessary information, hence the suggestion is to simplify those as well as the order of provision of construction licenses for private apartments in the territory of the community. 

Suggestions were also made during the discussion that frequent changes to the tax legislation should be ruled out, because they hinder business planning, development and management, and besides, the turnover tax threshold for small and medium businesses should be reconsidered, based on the fact that the existing tax rate does not allow proper profitability; the other suggestion was that tax burden be alleviated during the first six months of establishment, so that businesses have a chance to become viable. 

Among the issues voiced were also the lack of regular village-city transport communication (no applications were made for participation in tenders for passenger transportation routes, hence no tenders were held), and the social benefits to socially vulnerable families. 

Deputy governor of Tavush Levon Sargsyan believes such meetings are important, because valuable suggestions are commonly made during them. "I hope in the future these meetings will be decentralized and will move to remote villages, so that more people participate in the discussions. I believe there will be more issues raised,” says Sargsyan. 

Hasmik Manukyan, expert at the National Center for Legislative Regulation, says, in fact, during the preliminary research they, too, came across the issues later voiced by the residents of Tavush. 

"It was important to hear firsthand about the shortcomings and complications they face in their daily life. The issues raised were all relevant and real, hence will be reflected in our work,” said the expert. 

More discussion-conferences will be held within the next ten days in Gyumri, Kapan and Vanadzor.

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