YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–On February 9–the National Assembly of Armenia took into account the program of the Energy Commission for 2000. It is said in the annual program that the Energy Commission will make a final decision on tariffs for 2000 at the end of November. Tariffs on natural gas will remain unchanged in 2000. At the same time–the possible actual rise in tariffs will be 50% taking into account the tentative volume of investmen’s in the coming decade–which is expected to amount to about $700 million–according to Commission Chairman Vardan Movsissian.
The members of parliament believe the current electricity and gas tariffs to be unreasonable. They base their opinion on relevant calculations showing that the currently applied electricity tariff may be lowered by 3-5 drams and the gas tariff by 10%-20%. Some deputies and factions tabled a motion to introduce changed into the current law. In particular–it is proposed that the National Assembly should not only take into consideration the Energy Commission’s programs but also approve it. It was also suggested that the energy development concept be revised–a clear-cut tariff policy be developed and the National Assembly be empowered to supervise it. Some of the speakers said the Energy Commission should be dissolved and the funds used to maintain the Commission be directed at reforms in the energy system so as to achieve lower tariffs.
Most of the speakers were of opinion that the coming privatization of electricity distributing networks was not only a matter of economic but also that of national security.
On behalf of the "Unity" faction–Chairman of the National Assembly Standing Commission for Finance-Credit–Budgetary and Economic Affairs Vardan Khachatrian urged the deputies not to sidetrack the program proper and to establish the degree the Energy Commission is keeping within the law in its activities. He invited National Assembly deputies to an enlarged meeting of the commission scheduled for February 15 that would discuss issues of developing infrastructure (energy–drinking water–irrigation) and tariff policy and their relation to the expenditure pattern of the 2000 state budget.
In his concluding speech Energy Commission Chairman Vardan Movsissian expressed readiness to discuss concrete proposals joint with the deputies and agreed with the necessity of eliminating some omissions existing in the legislative and sub-legislative fields.