ARF Discusses 1999 Draft Budget

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Certain provisions of the 1999 draft state budget submitted by the government to the National Assembly go against the election platform of President Robert Kocharian–Armenian Revolutionary Federation Executive Council of Armenia vice-president Armen Rustamian told a news conference Thursday.

Rustamian said the implementation of Kocharian’s election program was being delayed and there were no tangible alternatives–while the people were running out of patience.

ARF member and member of parliament Rouben Hakobian estimated that the only aspect that could be hailed in the 1999 draft budget was that it stipulated an increase in the volume of investmen’s and paid attention to the earthquake zone.

"However–this is not the budget that can lead the state toward development," said Hakobian. He outlined that the main revenue pattern of the 1999 budget consisted of taxes and again the emphasis was not placed on the enhancement of national capital.

Hakobian said that the authorities managed to fully realize their rights–but their obligations were not implemented duly. There was a disproportion which–according to the Hakopian–had been "compensated" at the expense of citizens of Armenia who receive funds from their relatives living abroad–mainly Russia.

He expressed that the social situation in the country would worsen given the ongoing Russian economic crisis–an issue which the government should consider in its budgetary planning.

Hakobian added that a major struggle should also be waged against the shadow economy which currently made up a high percentage and "doesn’t yield to the potential the legal economy possesses."

The executive of the Economic Department of the ARF Executive Council of Armenia Tatul Manasarian expressed concern over the growing dependence of the state treasury on foreign resources. The deficit in the 1999 state budget is 51 billion drams–out of which 48.3 billion drams–according to Manasarian–are anticipated to be covered through financing obtained from foreign sources–instead of 42.7 billion drams in the current year.

To reduce the dependence on foreign resources–according to Rustamian–the state should promote variety of and strengthen domestic sources of budget revenue. He added that the budget should be based on social orientation and promote the restoration of industry.

The ARF announced that it would submit its recommendations regarding the draft budget to the government–since there was not a party parliamentary caucus in place.

"The adoption of the budget in this form is extremely undesirable," stressed Rustamian.

Late last week–Hakopian also expressed that a move to increase energy rates was unwise–since the population was unable to afford current rates.

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