Darbinian Cabinet Under Fire From Parliament Oversight Body

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Less than two weeks after lambasting the Central Bank–the Armenian parliament’s budgetary office delivered Wednesday a blistering criticism of the previous cabinet for its failure to honor spending proportions set by last year’s budget despite a successful revenue collection.

The current government’s report on its predecessor’s compliance with the 1998 budget showed that it allocated to the social sector less funds than it was supposed to. Paymen’s to the state pension fund were 84 percent of their planned level and only 55 percent of other projected social benefits were made available. Most of the refugee allowances were not paid at all–it emerged from the report. Funding for government agencies like the finance ministry–tax and customs directorates was above budget allocations.

The report needs the parliament’s approval to become a law. It was harshly criticized by the National Assembly’s Oversight Chamber in a written conclusion submitted to lawmakers. The Chamber also blamed the former cabinet headed by Armen Darbinain–currently the economics minister–for a 1.3 percent consumer price deflation registered last year. The parliament body concluded that the government’s and Central Bank’s fiscal-monetary policies were excessively tight and the resulting deflation damaging for the Armenian economy.

Ara Aslikian–a deputy finance minister–argued that the authorities could not foresee the eruption of the Russian economic crisis and its continuing effects on Armenia.

The budgetary report is expected to be endorsed by the pro-government majority in parliament even though many deputies were enraged by its percentage figures. Leaders of the majority Unity faction favor the report’s approval on the grounds that the current cabinet should not be penalized for failures of its predecessor.

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