Kocharian Opposes Per Minute Phone Charges

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s President Robert Kocharian reaffirmed the government’s intention to prevent ArmenTel from implementing its decision to raise telephone rates. Speaking to reporters on Saturday President Kocharian said he had instructed Transport and Communication Minister Andranik Manukian to invalidate ArmenTel’s decision. "We have all possibilities and levers to solve this dispute in the legal field," said Kocharian.

According to the president–the government should bear the responsibility in serious decisions.

In a related development Prime Minister Andranik Margarian said on Saturday that the government was against the per-minute charges and "is doing everything to make sure that it is not enforced. "

Margarian said that the parliament has suggested initiated legislature that would change the laws–but "the government has asked not to take up the step for the time being."

According to Margarian–the license which granted ArmenTel a 15 year monopoly in the domestic communications market prohibits the introduction of per minute charges for domestic calls.

ArmenTel–owned by the Greek state-owned OTE–decided to introduce the new payment plan in January. ArmenTel chief executive officer–Nikos Georgulas–said he will proceed with their plans regardless of the government’s objections.

The prime minister said his government had drawn up a strategic policy for cooperating with ArmenTel which covers not only per-minute charges but also hopes to create conditions to enable other companies to enter the sector as well.

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