Government Plan Goes to Armenian Parliament

YEREVAN (Armenpress–RFE/RL)–The government of Armenia formally presented a four-year plan of action to the parliament on Thursday to go up for a vote of confidence on Friday.

Armenia’s Prime Minister Andranik Markarian expressed hope that the government would enjoy the support of political forces in the National Assembly in the coming four years–as only joint efforts and hard work would allow the country to strengthen and develop. "The government reaffirms its readiness for joint constructive work with political factions of the parliament."

The program–which promises a sweeping reduction in widespread poverty–was jointly authored by the three coalition partners: Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK)–the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and the Orinats Yerkir Party led by the current parliament speaker–Artur Baghdasarian. It calls for increased government spending on education–health care and social programs which would in turn lead to a major increase in public sector salaries.

The coalition also promises a tough government crackdown on endemic corruption–which is seen as a serious hurdle to the impoverished country’s democratization and economic development. Markarian admitted that it will not be an easy task.

"The roots of the problem are so deep that it existed even before [the birth] of Christ," he said. "We must create such an environment and a legal framework that will help us uproot it."

ARF leaders–highlighting their frustration with the authorities’ failure to scale down on corruption–have suggested the creation of a special anti-corruption body. It is still not clear whether Kocharian and the two other coalition parties back the idea–however.

Officials say the success of the program hinges on continued robust economic growth and the resulting increase in the government’s tax revenues. Its implementation is "risky" but realistic–according to Markarian. "We commit ourselves to achieving the promised indicators," he said.

Baghdasarian–for his part–said: "If the program is put into practice–many social problems will be resolved."

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