YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The pro-government majority in the Armenian parliament thwarted on Wednesday a multi-partisan effort to raise the extremely low state pensions by 1200-1500 drams. A bill drafted by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation was backed by only 46 deputies of the 131-member National Assembly.
The government has argued against its passage–saying that it would be unable to finance even a modest increase. But ARF leaders insisted that the government can raise additional resources by streamlining the state pension system.
The initiative was defeated after a rare display of unity by members of the Miasnutyun faction and the Hayastan parliamentary group. Lawmakers from the People’s Party of Armenia–one of the two partners in the majority bloc–opposed the proposed rise in pensions despite their uneasy relations with Prime Minister Andranik Markarian.
From the representatives of the Right and Unity faction present at the meeting–only Aghasi Arshakian voted for the proposal. Among the abstainees were the representatives of the Unity faction–Armenia deputy group–and both Vice-Speakers Gagik Aslanian (PPA) and Tigran Torossian (RPA). Speaker Armen Khachatrian was also absent from the meeting.
Leader of the ARF faction Aghvan Vardanian said that the faction has already collected the necessary number of signatures to the initiative of convening a special meeting on June 13–to discuss the same issue.’