Parliament Adjourns `97 Budget Talks

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The National Assembly of Armenia ended the main phase of discussions of 1997 draft budget on Thursday. Parliament Speaker Babken Ararktsian–Deputy Speaker Karapet Roubinian–over 40 members of parliament–members of the cabinet–the National Assembly’s permanent committees and factions presented their positions.

Remarks mainly concerned budget revenues–tax collection–reforms in the relevant legislation and the necessity of seeking for new reserves for the budget through reduction of shadow economy. Opponents–who believed the budget’s revenues section to be too risky–voiced hope that the government will take all remarks and proposals into account to speed up adoption in parliament.

The Communist Party faction suggested the government pay serious attention to restoration of industry–which–according to them–is not reflected in the draft budget. They believe that "if they accept the budget in such a form–it will be a disservice to the government."

The Shamiram faction expressed readiness to vote for the government’s position. The group said that part of revenues projected in the 1997 draft budget were more realistic than the 1996 draft budget. With regard to the existence of a shadow economy–Shamiram blamed it on the "shadow" laws adopted by the National Assembly.

The Republic bloc members said it was wrong to view the draft budget as being risky–despite certain risk factors. They noted the importance of ensuring relevant legislation–particularly the adoption of a law on the budget.

The Reforms group members of parliament approved of the draft budget–viewing it as a realistic one–despite some risk involved. According to the group–the government could not possibly submit a "better" budget and said it was ready to assist the government.

The National Self-Determination Union and National Democratic Union members of parliament–which after the September 25-26 events have not attended National Assembly sessions–were absent at the discussions.

Members of parliament may submit their proposals and remarks to the government in writing for subsequent discussion at a three-day government session. After this–the government will submit a finalized version of the draft budget to the National Assembly.

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