Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan presented “100 Facts About New Armenia 2” at a September 16 press conference touching upon almost all areas and listing the achievements of the new authorities.
Fact Investigation Platform has already checked most of the facts introduced by the Prime Minister. They contained both true and untrue assertions as well as statements that either could not be verified or were yet incomplete. Some of the facts presented are currently being checked. In this article we will address the points mentioned by the Prime Minister that are true or have slight deviations.
Fact 24 ․ Small and medium enterprises
Speaking about the steps for development of small and medium business, the Prime Minister stated: “In May-August 2019, 141 beginning entrepreneurs participated in entrepreneurship courses organized by the Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development National Center (SME DNC), 104 business programs were presented, 74 of which will be provided with up to 5 million AMD loan guarantee.
SME DNC of Armenia has provided loan guarantees of AMD 138.6 million to 35 start-up entrepreneurs within the framework of financial support programs, and financing of another 40 start-up entrepreneurs is currently underway.”
According to data provided by the Ministry of Economy to Fip.am, 171 participants developed individual business plans and submitted them to the Business Programs Evaluation Working Group as a result of the SME DNC training course of 2019.
120 business plans out of 171 were evaluated as realistic and were included in the “Financial Support to Start-up Businesses” program. Thus, 48 start-ups have received financial support. This means that the data released by the Prime Minister are quite close to reality and are not substantially different from the data of the Ministry of Economy, which provides basis for concluding that Pashinyan is right.
Fact 5 ․ Number of cash register receipts
Speaking about the achievements of tax authorities, the Prime Minister stated that the number of cash register receipts issued by economic entities in the first 8 months of this year was substantially higher than the number of receipts issued in the same period last year. “During the first 8 months of 2019, the number of cash register receipts exceeded that of the same period last year by 76.4 million pieces, which is 38.5% higher compared to the same period of last year,” the Prime Minister said.
According to information provided by the State Revenue Committee, 170.2 million cash register receipts were issued by economic entities in the first 8 months of last year, and 274.9 million cash register receipts this year. In fact, this year more cash register receipts (104 million) were issued than announced by the Prime Minister.
Fact 72. Environmental Inspections
Speaking about the achievements in nature protection, the Prime Minister stated: “As a result of inspections (spec. environmental inspections) carried out by relevant authorities during 2019, 882 violations were recorded, 432 administrative decisions were made, 585 records of indemnification were drafted, 227 cases were sent to law enforcement agencies. As a result of inspections environmental damage of AMD 1,661,206,720 was calculated and administrative monetary penalties of AMD 38,800,000 were imposed. AMD 429,094,016 has already been transferred to the state budget this year.”
However, according to the Inspectorate for Nature Protection and Mineral Resources, the Inspectorate recorded 24 violations and not 882 in the first half of this year.
24 decisions to impose administrative fines were made instead of 432 and 14 indemnification records were drafted instead of 585.
Damage to the environment this year was estimated at AMD 1,038,687,613 and not AMD 1,661,206,720 as the Prime Minister announced.
AMD 385,182,225 was transferred to the state budget instead of AMD 429,094,016 announced by the Prime Minister.
As for the number of cases sent to law enforcement agencies, there is a significant difference too. According to the Prime Minister, 227 cases have been forwarded to law enforcement agencies, while according to information obtained from the inspection body, only 2 cases have been filed and 4 decisions have been suspended based on judicial appeals.
As we can see, the figures announced by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan substantially contradict the data provided by the inspection body. To clarify the matter, we contacted the Inspectorate for Nature Protection and Mineral Resources, from where they reaffirmed the authenticity of their figures.
It turned out that the figures presented by the Prime Minister included not only the violations recorded by the inspection body, but also those recorded by human rights organizations and institutions. It is unclear, though, why the Prime Minister attributed these figures to only environmental inspection body.
Fact 87. Cadastre Committee
Speaking about the achievements of the Cadastre Committee, the Prime Minister stated:
“In 2019, the Cadastre Committee will return about AMD 1 billion to the state budget, which exceeds the total amount of the previous five years put together and makes up about 25% of the system’s annual budget. In 2019, the number of vehicles in the Cadastre system was reduced by 60% from 74 to 30. In 2018-2019 gasoline savings totaled 140 thousand liters, which makes up about AMD 50 million. That is to say, the costs are 66% lower than planned.”
It is probably too early to talk about the amount of money being returned to the budget by the Cadastre Committee as the reporting year is not yet over. But if it does return AMD 1 billion to the state budget, it will really make up about 25% of the committee’s annual budget. The budget allocated to the Cadastre Committee for 2019 is about AMD 4 billion.
As for the number of vehicles under the control of the Cadastre Committee, there were 46 vehicles in the beginning of 2018 as informed by the Committee to Fip.am which was reduced by 13 during the same year. In the beginning of 2019 the Committee acquired two new cars increasing the number of cars to 35.
During the 9 months of this year 3 additional cars were alienated making up 32 cars in the balance of the Committee as of the end of September.
It turns out that the numbers announced by the Prime Minister are untrue, since the Cadastre Committee had 46 vehicles instead on 74, and 32 vehicles as of September 27 instead of 30 announced by the Prime Minister.
Fact Investigation Platform received information from Cadastre Committee on cars in their balance sheets for the past five years. According to the information, the Committee had the most number of cars in 2014 making up 60 cars.
As for the Prime Minister’s statement on gasoline savings, it should be noted that along with the reduction in the number of cars the reduction in gasoline consumption is also logical.
Fact 12 ․ Exports
Speaking about the products having the highest increase in foreign trade and export, Nikol Pashinyan stated: “In the first seven months, average exports of medium–high-tech goods grew by 40.9%, while exports of high-tech goods grew by 34.4 percent. Exports of golden jewelry increased by 58 percent, fruit wines by 41 percent, chocolate exports by 35.1 percent, exports of fresh fish by 23.6 percent, exports of locally produced clothing by 17 percent, exports of whole vegetable products by 15.6 percent. Exports under the description line of brandy, rum, vodka and liquor increased by 12.3 percent and exports of water by 10 percent. Overall, exports have increased by $ 42.5 million over the past seven months.”
Which products are considered to be medium-high-tech and high-tech remained unknown to Fip.am. Ministry of Economy which is the addressee of the question, responded that no classification for “medium-high-tech products” and “high-tech products” is indicated in the Order N 875-N of September 19, 2013 of the Minister of Economy (stipulating the classification of products based on type of activity).
The increase in exports of certain products is given in the table below.
The table does not include data on the export of clothing of local production, as the data published by the Statistics Committee do not differentiate between the products of local and foreign production.
As for total exports, they have increased not by $ 42.5 million, but by $ 41 million in the first seven months of this year.