YEREVAN (Arka)—The Armenian government announced on Thursday that it will increase the size of benefits given to low-income families by 1000 drams (less than $2.50) to mitigate the impact of a recently announced rise in electricity prices by 10 percent, the second rare increase in 12 months.
Speaking at a government meeting, Labor and Social Affairs Minister Artem Asatryan said the measure, devised at the order of Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian, will apply to 105,000 poor families across the country. The rise was requested by President Serzh Sarkisian soon after the Public Services Regulatory Commission on Tuesday authorized the increase in the tariffs.
The minister cited the Public Services Regulatory Commission’s data that an average Armenian family consumes about 200 kW/h of electricity per month (325 kW/h in wintertime and 180 kW/h in summertime). He said this means that as a result of the rise an average family will be paying about 800 drams (about $2) more than at present.
The minister said a rise in government benefits by one thousand drams will make the average monthly welfare allowance 30,350 drams. Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian concluded: “The government is taking care of the increased financial burden of these 105,000 families.”
On July 1, Armenia’s Public Service Regulatory Commission unanimously approved a 10 percent rate hike in residential electricity bills effective August 1, despite protests that often turned violent in weeks leading up to the decision.
Tuesday’s decision will allow the Electrical Networks of Armenia to charge 41.85 drams per 1 kWh of electricity during daylight hours (from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.), up from the current 38 drams, and 31.5 drams for night hours (from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.), up from the current 28 drams.