Government Mulls Economic Incentives for Border Villagers

Schoolchildren in the Tavush region's border town of Ditavan

YEREVAN—Rafik Grigoryan, the governor of the eastern region of Gegharkunik, Armenia, says he strongly supports legal measures proposed by the Armenian government to offer citizens living in the dangerous borderlands near Azerbaijan economic privileges, such as subsidized or free-of-charge electricity.

Grigoryan says towns near the border need residents to populate them as much as they need soldiers to defend them.

Asked whether he thinks that a villager today is capable of launching a private business, the regional governor admitted that the population in villages is not often skilled enough to be confident about business. “But a villager does not have to … Why don’t people come to make investments in the border villages? Then the villagers will work with that business,” Grigoryan said.

The Gegharkunik governor pointed out particularly the increasing birth rate in the region, noting that the trend shows positive signs for the future.

Commenting on the issue, the governor of Vayots Dzor, Edgar Ghazaryan, said he doesn’t think legislative solutions are necessary.

“We had internal debates in government, so our opinion was asked. I don’t think that we need a new law to be adopted, for example” he said.

Ghazaryan particularly highlighted the situation in Khachik, a border community where he said apartment-building problems always receive due attention by the government.

As for business investments, the regional governor said any job creation project not related to agricultural manufacturing has been a private initiative not linked to government policies.

Introducing the key concepts of the legal initiative, Vahram Baghdasaryan of the ruling Republican faction in parliament said the preliminary amount of assistance is within the range of $1 and $2 million.

“It is still under discussion. The proposals we have sent contain two options: tax exemption or exemption from bills in general, free supply of textbooks and increased lump sum payments,” he explained.

As for the possibility of creating free economic zones, Baghdasaryan said he thinks that the budgetary resources need to be considered properly before deciding on such a plan.

The bill, signed by the four parliamentary factions, has been already submitted to the Government.

Baghdasaryan said he hopes that the measure will take effect until the debates for next year’s budgetary allocations.


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