ArmInfo. The pawnshops and currency exchange offices operating in Armenia will be able to manage the increase in the annual state duty from the current 100 thousand to 350- 370 thousand drams for pawnshops and up to 70 thousand drams for "exchangers" against the current 50 thousand drams. "We'll not draw more," said Aramais Khachatryan, chairman of the Union of Currency Dealers of Armenia, after Assistant Prime Minister of Armenia Nairi Sargsyan received the representatives of the field.
According to the representative of the interests of pawnshops Mher Gevorgian, Sargsyan listened to their proposals, promised to discuss the issue with all interested parties, and if necessary to report also on the problem to the head of government. Nairi Sargsyan promised to talk about the results of the discussions until Monday.
According to Gevorgyan, they do not exclude that the initiative of the Armenian government is aimed at reducing the number of operating pawnshops, and serves the interests of commercial banks. "We thought about it, but today we don't want to make political statements. But any sensible person understands that such decisions lead to the consolidation of the market, that is, only large players will remain," he said.
At the same time, as Khachatryan stated, today they are protesting not against the Armenian Central Bank, the mega-regulator of the financial market, but against the Armenian government represented by the Ministry of Finance, which is the author of the draft law. According to him, the representatives of the sphere were not involved in the Ministry of Finance discussions as part of the development of the draft law.
When asked whether it is possible that the government intends to regulate the market of Lombard services due to its insufficient level of transparency and a significant amount of shadow turnover, Mher Gevorgyan stated that the sphere is controlled by the Central Bank, which works "hard", but "good" and hide something from his gaze - is impossible. Referring to the fact that the Central Bank exercises financial control, but does not have the right to control the assets of the same pawnshops where stolen goods can be sold, Gevorgyan stressed that any stolen thing can be mortgaged in any financial institution that has a license to issue loans. Recall that a week the pawnbrokers and currency exchange offices are protesting against the proposed changes to the Law on State Duty, suggesting a 60-fold increase in state duty for pawnbrokers and currency exchange offices, most of them will close and about 1,300 people will remain out of work. According to the bill, instead of the current state duty for pawnshops at 100 thousand drams (about $ 205) a bar will be set at 6 million drams (about $ 12.3 thousand), and for exchange points - 3 million drams (about $ 6.1 thousand) instead of the current 50 thousand (about $ 102). As noted, the adoption of the bill threatens to close more than half of the 128 pawnshops and 200 exchange offices operating throughout the country. As a result, more than 1,300 people are waiting for reductions, and the state treasury's tax losses will reach 900 million drams (about $ 1.8 million).
Owners and employees of pawnshops and exchangers also declare unequal and unfair treatment of financial institutions - the state duty of exchange offices owned by commercial banks will increase from 3 million drams to 7 million (2.3 fold increase), for universal credit companies - to 3 million drams from the previous 500 thousand drams (6-fold growth), and for pawnshops and currency exchange offices, a 60-fold increase in the tax burden is expected. The new regulations, according to representatives of the sector, are aimed at withdrawing small players from the market - lenders and currency dealers. At the same time, they warn that this step will entail the formation of a "shadow market", which will act out of sight of the Central Bank of Armenia.
Meanwhile, according to financial analysts of ArmInfo, the measure to which the Ministry of Finance wants to resort has quite serious grounds.
First, the problem is the need to withdraw from , first of all, uncontrollable from the point of view of tax payments, pawnshops and private currency exchange points, the real turnover of which, according to some estimates, repeatedly, and hundreds of times in exchangers reporting figures.
Secondly: The current low thresholds for entering these segments of the financial market do not justify themselves at all, since, in contrast to fully accountable and tightly regulated regulations by the Central Bank of banks and credit companies, pawnshops feel much more at ease and as a "last resort" for desperate potential borrowers, use inflated lending rates and less "attentive" to the assessment of collateral.
Thirdly: the distribution of licenses by the Central Bank of Armenia to too many pawnshops (127 according to 2018) and private currency exchange points (213 for 2018) led to the fact that commercial banks and credit companies began to noticeably lose their positions in the market both in the credit and foreign exchange segments, while at the same time incurring much greater obligations to the state as costs.
Therefore, analysts say, it is possible that in fact the government, with a completely explainable silence of the mega-regulator represented by the Central Bank of the Republic of Armenia, wants to kill three birds with one stone: remove the unorganized, including the gray market, the cash currency market, increase budget revenues at the expense of state duties and other payments and to clear the market for the work of commercial banks and credit companies, forcing all players to work in a single competitive field.