The Ministry of Justice has presented a bill on Making Amendments and Addenda to the Constitutional Laws on the Judicial Code and the Constitutional Court in the unified platform for the publication of legal acts (E-draft.am). A topic of hot debate in the Armenian media is Article 7 of the Draft Law on the Constitutional Court which stipulates that “the salary of a Constitutional Court judge who resigns from August 1 to October 31, 2019, regardless of age, shall be retained in the amount equal to that at the time of his/her resignation, as well as bonus payments and social guarantees thereto, until the end of his/her tenure, except when he/she starts public service. A judge of the Constitutional Court shall receive a pension prescribed by law after the expiry of the term of tenure.”
Channel 5 TV also covered this issue during its August 10 and 12 “Haylur” news broadcasts. The media outlet has even calculated how much additional burden there will be on the state budget due to the draft law. The author argued that according to these “least conservative” calculations, without calculating social security and bonus payments, about 1 billion AMD worth “legal bribe” would have to be taken from the budget collected from the taxpayers” (Ed. a concrete calculation has been presented and a number given, namely, 995 472 000 AMD).
They got the aforementioned number by multiplying the arithmetic mean (93/8) of the years of service left for the president (16 years) and other members of the Constitutional Court (Gyulumyan Alvina 7 years, Dilanyan Arman – 20, Tunyan Arayik – 12, Nazaryan Hrant – 5, Tokhyan Felix – 7, Khachatryan Ashot – 8 and Petrosyan Arevik – 18) with their annual salaries (85 632 000 AMD).
The Fact Investigation Platform checked the accuracy of the figures presented by Channel 5 TV to reveal how much the adoption of the Draft Law on the Constitutional Court can really cost the RA state budget if we are guided by the idea that all members of the Constitutional Court except for Vahe Grigoryan resign (Ed. as presented by the TV channel).
Years in office
Let us start with “Haylur”’s calculation of the terms left for members of the Constitutional Court. Channel 5 TV’s calculation is given below:
Whereas, first of all, it shall be made clear that the President of the Constitutional Court and the members of the Constitutional Court shall serve in accordance with the terms laid down in the Constitution which was operational when they became members of the Constitutional Court.
Thus, Felix Tokhyan and Hrant Nazaryan were appointed as CC members before the 2005 constitutional amendments came into force. According to Article 96 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, a member of the Constitutional Court shall hold office until the age of 70 years. Thus,
- Felix Tokhyan will be in office until June 20, 2026 (about 7 years)
- Hrant Nazaryan will be in office until January 26, 2026 (about 7 years)
Alvina Gyulumyan, Arayik Tunyan, Ashot Khachatryan, Arevik Petrosyan and Hrayr Tovmasyan assumed the post of RA Constitutional Court Member before the constitutional amendments entered into force in 2015, and according to Article 96 of the 2005 Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, a member of the Constitutional Court shall hold office until the age of 65. Thus,
- Alvina Gyulumyan will hold office until January 20, 2021 (about 2 years)
- Arayik Tunyan will hold office until January 6, 2031 (about 12 years)
- Ashot Khachatryan will hold office until September 10, 2027 (more than 8 years)
- Arevik Petrosyan will hold office until December 6, 2037 (more than 18 years)
- President of the RA Constitutional Court Hrayr Tovmasyan will hold office until July 8, 2035 (about 16 years).
Constitutional Court judge Arman Dilanyan joined the Constitutional Court in accordance with Article 166 of the 2015 Constitution and will serve for another 11 years since he was elected judge of the Constitutional Court in 2018 for the term of 12 years.
As mentioned, Channel 5 TV did not consider the judge of the Constitutional Court Vahe Grigoryan as a potential beneficiary of the draft law submitted for public discussion.
Annual salaries of members of the Constitutional Court
The Fact Investigation Platform also decided to check whether the presented sum of the overall annual salaries of the CC president and other members was correct.
According to the current RA Law on Remuneration of Public Officials, the official rate is calculated by the product of the base salary (the base salary of the public officials is 66,140 AMD according to the RA Law on the 2019 State Budget) and the coefficient stipulated by law (the rate coefficient for the CC Chairman is 16.00, and 12.00 for the members of the Constitutional Court). Thus, the President of the Constitutional Court receives 1 058 240 AMD per month, and each member of the Constitutional Court receives 793 680 AMD.
To calculate the annual salary of judges of the Constitutional Court, it was necessary to multiply the salaries of the CC president and 7 judges (not counting Vahe Grigoryan, as the TV company did) by the 12 months of the year.
The simple mathematical calculation results in:
12 x (7×793 680 + 1 058 240) = 79 368 000
This figure is about 16 million less than the one presented by Channel 5. It can be clearly seen that in the calculations of the TV company there is not only an incorrect calculation of years, but also an exaggeration of net salary figures.
By the way, even if the media outlet included Vahe Grigoryan’s annual salary, the total would be 88 892 160 AMD.
Thus, how much money will be spent if the bill is adopted and operated in the way that the Channel 5 does? If we use the method applied by Channel 5 TV, that is, multiply the arithmetic mean of the years of service of the CC members by their net annual salary, we will get:
81/8 x 79 368 000 = 803 601 000
Thus, Channel 5 TV not only inflated the annual salary of the members of the Constitutional Court by about 16 million AMD, but also distorted the terms of their tenure and exaggerated the final number presented to the public by about 192 million AMD.
If we make the calculation individually, but move according to the logic of Channel 5 TV, namely that all the CC members except Vahe Grigoryan will resign before the retirement age, they should be paid the following amounts (if the bill is adopted):
- Felix Tokhyan (7 years): 66 669 120 AMD
- Hrant Nazaryan (7 years): 66 669 120 AMD
- Alvina Gyulumyan (2 years): 19 048 320 AMD
- Arayik Tunyan (12 years): 114 289 920 AMD
- Ashot Khachatryan (8 years): 76 193 280 AMD
- Arevik Petrosyan (18 years): 171 434 880 AMD
- Arman Dilanyan (11 years): 104 765 760 AMD
- Hrayr Tovmasyan (16 years): 203 182 080 AMD
In this case, the total amount will make up 822 252 480 AMD.