Sargsyan to Follow Brother’s Policies


YEREVAN (Reuters)–The new prime minister of Armenia promised Wednesday to keep to the policies planned by his brother–the former premier who was shot down by gunmen in parliament two weeks ago.

Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan–38–the brother of slain premier Vazgen Sargsyan–said he would stick to an economic policy of reform and promised not to raise taxes for four years.

"I recognize the enormous responsibility I am taking on and I am ready to continue and guarantee the policy of the government of Vazgen Sargsyan," he told the heads of the parliament of the ex-Soviet nation of 3.8 million.

The parliament building was the scene two weeks ago of a raid by gunmen who shot and killed Vazgen Sargsyan–parliament speaker Karen Demirchian and six other officials.

Aram was appointed the following week by President Robert Kocharian with the support of the ruling Unity bloc in parliament–although he is politically inexperienced.

"It is no secret that the wide-scale structural reforms carried out in the last few years have not brought the expected result," Sargsyan said.

"The population lives below the poverty level. Many state bodies have smeared themselves in the dirt of bribery–citizens do not feel protected by their own state," he said.

Sargsyan–the head of a large cement factory before becoming prime minister–said his government would boost economic growth and that the budget would be built on the collection of realistic revenues–which should not hamper producers.

"I officially declare that in the next four years the government will not raises taxes and the size of other obligatory paymen’s," he said.

"The question of covering the budget deficit remains the most serious," he said.

"Cooperation with international financial organizations is very important. We must stick to all the agreemen’s reached with the International Monetary Fund by Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan," he said.

The IMF recently approved a loan of $29 million to Armenia but criticized the country’s policy setbacks in fiscal and monetary reforms.

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