At its extraordinary session on April 13, the government approved the eleventh measure to neutralize the economic consequences brought about by the coronavirus, according to which the state will pay half the amount of the utility bills to residents whose natural gas consumption in February did not exceed AMD 10,000 and electricity consumption did not exceed AMD 5,000.
The Fact Investigation Platform decided to compare the similarities and differences between the measures taken by the Armenian and neighboring Georgian governments aimed at social protection of the population.
As mentioned above, by the decree adopted by the Government of Armenia, the resident subscribers who consumed no more than AMD 10,000 of natural gas and/or AMD 5,000 of electricity in February will receive support, respectively, 50 percent of the payment for natural gas and electricity. Moreover, if the resident subscriber has not yet paid the utility bill, the amount will be used to repay the debt, and in the absence of debt, it will be paid as an advance payment.
Now let’s see what solution the Georgian government has offered to this problem.
The Georgian government addressed the issue of utility bills two weeks ago. On April 1, the Georgian government decided to fully reimburse the natural gas and electricity bills of those subscribers, whose consumption does not exceed 200 cubic meters and 200 kilowatts, respectively, as well as to reimburse garbage and water bills. This decision of the government refers to March, April and May.
Aliq Media, an Armenian-language news outlet operating in Georgia, commented on similar decisions by the two governments. According to the decision of the Georgian government, each resident-subscriber will be reimbursed 37 GEL per month (about AMD 6,000) for electricity, and about 93 GEL (about 15,000 AMD) for natural gas.
This means that the Georgian authorities will reimburse AMD 63,000 for electricity and natural gas consumed by their residents in March, April and May.
This decision of the Armenian government became the subject of heated discussions in the Armenian media as well. One of the Facebook users tried to show that the support of the Georgian government does not differ significantly from the decision adopted by our government. “The Georgian government will only reimburse costs for less than 200 kWh of electricity consumption. In Georgia, for 101-301 kWh consumers, 1 kWh of electricity costs 18-55 tetri (0.1855 GEL) or 27.825 AMD. In other words, the Georgian government will only reimburse the cost of electricity less than 5,565 AMD, and the Armenian government will reimburse the cost of electricity less than 5,000 AMD” the user wrote. Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, a member of the “My Step” faction of the National Assembly, shared this post on his page, and later removed it.
The logic of this calculation is understandable, but it is not clear why the 5,065 AMD compensated by the Georgian government is compared to the 5,000 AMD set by the Armenian government’s decision, as the Armenian government compensates only half of it. The user “forgot” to mention that in the case of Georgia it is about 3 months of support, in the case of Armenia – about 1 month. The user “forgot” to compare the support provided by the governments of the two countries in terms of consumption of natural gas.
Now let’s try to calculate what would have happened if the Armenian government had been guided by the standards of the Georgian government.
According to rough calculations, the Armenian government would pay up to 139 * 200 = 27,800 AMD for the consumption of natural gas per month (where 139 is the price of 1m3 of gas in Armenia) and 40 * 200 = 8000 AMD for electricity consumption (where 40 AMD is the average price for 1 kWh electricity). In other words, it would pay 35,800 AMD each month, and 107,400 AMD for three months.
To sum up, we can say that in the case of Armenia the government can compensate each resident-subscriber a maximum of 7500 AMD, while the Georgian government will compensate maximum of 63,000 AMD to its residents.
In other words, the assistance provided by the Georgian government exceeds the support provided to our residents and subscribers by about 8.5 times within the framework of the eleventh measure to neutralize the economic consequences of the coronavirus approved by our government.