ArmInfo. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan held a meeting in his residence on the issue of raising prices for a number of goods in the country, with a view to discussing steps to mitigate the consequences of price increases.
As the presidential press service told ArmInfo, the meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister for International Economic Integration and Reforms Vache Gabrielyan, Head of the Presidential Administration Armen Gevorgyan, Chairman of the Central Bank Arthur Javadyan, Minister of Economic Development and Investments Suren Karayan, Minister Ignaty Arakelyan, Chief Adviser to the President Aram Gabrielyan, Head of the Presidential Control Service Hovhannes Hovsepyan, Chairman of the State Revenue Committee Vardan Harutyunyan, Chairman of the State Commission for Protection of Economic Competition Artak Shaboyan.
Stressing that the heads of some departments present at the meeting are responsible for ensuring free and fair competition among economic entities, Sargsyan noted that responsibility implies, by preserving the conditions of competition, strict monitoring of the growth of prices for individual goods, for which the state has all the necessary tools. The Armenian President demanded to talk not only about objective reasons and grounds for price increases, but also to present solutions aimed at mitigating their consequences, to constantly inform the public about the processes in consumer markets.
At the same time, the president focused the attention of the meeting participants on three important circumstances: "Firstly, it is obvious that market relations operate in Armenia, and the state does not interfere in the pricing processes, but we have commitments on the formation of the environment - a competitive environment that is second, we have a full set of tools for studying the activities of economic entities with dominant market positions, and thirdly, we have many in the tools to determine whether fluctuations in price growth are objective, or whether it is the result of the greed of the business entity," the Armenian leader said.
Sargsyan believes that the state is obliged to constantly inform the public about processes in consumer markets without taking into account a lot of circumstances. In addition, he said, one should not be satisfied only by the fact that one deputy minister once said about the reasons for the rise in price. "I am sure that people see the objectivity or bias of what we have said, in parallel, it is necessary to make forecasts, each of us should be responsible for our own forecasts." Those who are responsible for the rise in prices in Armenia, yes, they must constantly make predictions and assure everyone, that indicators provided by the state budget will be ensured that if the price for one product has increased, then one service has become cheaper. When we do not do it, this omission replenishes the others. And many, in some cases due to professional capabilities, others because of the lack of information, thirdly, proceeding from the circumstances, try to somehow aggravate the situation. I repeat, every citizen of Armenia has the right to have full and accurate information on the reasons for the rise in price," Sargsyan said.
He stressed that even if some goods for objective reasons increased in price, then you need to think about how to mitigate the consequences of this. The Armenian president did not want to write out a prescription for solving the problem, instead gave an example of the fact that the state subsidizes prices for the acquisition of diesel fuel by agricultural entities for many years. According to him, this is a good tool that can be used in the future, but not to impose. "Of course, assurances are needed, but not verbal, but practical, that all the budgeted funds will be collected, and in the second half of the year we will be able to understand how to solve additional problems - social significance, so that the price increase does not affect the socially unsecured strata, I see these opportunities, and you are more perspicacious in this matter," Sargsyan said.
At the end of the meeting, the President gave a number of instructions, in particular, instructed the government to compile a list of goods of great social importance. In addition, to constantly study the dynamics of prices for these products, to provide objective and subjective reasons for the price fluctuation factor, to evaluate the risks of price hikes and propose measures to mitigate their consequences, and the results are periodically presented to society.
Sargsyan also proposed options to mitigate the effects of rising prices on products of social importance, which rose in price because of tax or other legislative changes. First of all, for the socially important agricultural products, a comprehensive program for the development of local production and import substitution will be developed and presented, which will provide the lowest possible price for these products, and at the same time will encourage local production. By initiating legislative changes that result in a significant change in the prices of products of socially important importance, the government must simultaneously develop measures that will mitigate the consequences of price increases. The government is also instructed to monitor the markets for compressed gas, gasoline and diesel fuel and transfer the identified problems to the State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition for taking decisive action.
The State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition was asked to take decisive measures in case of an unjustified price increase in markets with highly concentrated goods, moreover, to study the prices in the grain and flour markets, and, if there are problems, to submit relevant proposals. Since January 1, 2018 in Armenia there has been a significant increase in prices for a number of products, including poultry, oil, gasoline, liquefied gas, spirits, eggs, sugar, etc. In addition, in the near future, also expected to increase the price of tobacco products. Earlier it was reported that the rise in price was due to the increase in customs duties for more than 800 types of goods. The rise in prices is mainly due to the fact that from January 1, 2018, the new Customs Code of the EAEU came into force. This implies an increase in customs duties on goods from countries that are not members of the EAEU.
In connection with this circumstance, the opposition bloc "Elk" on January 19 will organize a protest.