Government to hold consultations in Marzes to discuss priorities and problems

A Cabinet sitting was held today, chaired by Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan. Before proceeding to the agenda, the Prime Minister gave a number of instructions.

Speaking about the importance of community and regional development programs, the Prime Minister stated in part, “I have repeatedly said that our actions and measures aim to bring about practical and tangible results in every area. At the same time, we have stated the importance of community and regional development programs. It is obvious that we need to hold extra consultations in order to identify the existing problems and implement these programs.”

To this end, the Premier instructed the heads of executive agencies to report back within a 20-day period the results of those actions and measures that have had a positive impact in terms of protecting the citizens’ rights, simplifying administrative procedures, preventing or reducing corruption and improving the business environment.

Karen Karapetyan gave a week’s time to the acting Minister-Chief of Government Staff, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Development and the Marz Governors to submit a timetable along with the list of those government officials who should hold expanded consultations in the provinces according to regional priorities and subject matters.

“We expect each ministry and agency to submit quarterly progress reports to the public at large. Marz administrations should have a list and a timetable for holding meetings similar to Cabinet sittings. We do not say out-sessions, since they will be attended by the heads of those government agencies that have been notified of the problems faced in their respective areas,” Karen Karapetyan said, adding that the consultations will be held on Saturdays so that the regular work schedule is not impaired.

The Prime Minister next issued instructions concerning the cadastral value of plots of land, urging those responsible to revise the terms of limp-sum payments, streamline the activities of testing laboratories and provide amenities for the summer rest of citizens and tourists.

With reference to the Clean Armenia program, the Premier noted that the national clean-up campaigns will be continued ahead and will be organized more systematically. Karen Karapetyan told the Minister of Territorial Administration and Development and the Marz Governors to submit within a week’s time adequate information on the results of the nationwide clean-up day of May 27. The Head of Government instructed them to ensure that appropriate waste management service contracts are signed with economic entities within a month’s time. They were told to initiate administrative proceedings, if necessary.

The Premier next instructed to make an inventory of garbage cans and public toilets in tourist sites outside Yerevan and in the adjacent areas, as well as assess the capacities offered by trade outlets, restaurants, petrol and gas refueling stations and take all the necessary measures to ensure their availability for the citizens and tourists in line with the applicable regulatory standards.

The Government adopted a relevant decision to increase efficiency in the use of State budget grants, provide for broader access to information on grant provision procedures and programs, as well as to ensure greater targeting, transparency and accountability in this area.

The Government decided to exempt the citizens of Qatar from entry visa requirement. The decision will allow the citizens of the State of Qatar to visit and stay in the territory of the Republic of Armenia more than 180 days a year without having to get an entry visa.

Karen Karapetyan asked the Deputy Foreign Minister whether they had a list of those countries eligible for privileged visa regime in order to promote inbound tourism in Armenia. Shavarsh Kocharyan advised that several countries are being considered for visa regime liberalization. “The results will be presented upon completion,” he said.

The Executive approved a bill on amendments to the RA law “On offender citizens who have evaded the duty of mandatory military service.” The amendment is meant to extend the term of effectiveness of the law. It will enable such citizens aged 27 and over as may come in breach of the Law on Military Service to avoid prosecution by settling a corresponding fee within the prescribed time limits.

Speaking about the bill, Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan noted, “We have already had the opportunity to speak about this bill. It is not the best solution, since the extension of the term of its effectiveness stimulates the outflow of male citizens under 27 rather than puts a check on it. They hope that by staying abroad until the age of 27, they would be able to pay the proposed amount and legalize their failure to serve in the Army. Maybe, this is not the right time to suspend the law, but we need to decide that this policy cannot be continued, and we should give it up next year. At the same time, I am asking for your instruction so that we could work with all the stakeholders to ensure that the list of attached documents prevents those still domiciled in Armenia from evading the military service. We witnessed such instances in the past. That is we need to review the list of the documents required to make sure that an individual is definitely residing or working abroad and so on.”

Noting that the bill affects equally two groups of citizens – rank-and-file and reserve officers, RA Prosecutor-General Artur Davtyan said that this is not a justified approach.

It was decided to further review and finalize the bill, as appropriate, before submitting it to the National Assembly. In conclusion, the Government decided to ask the National Assembly Speaker to convene an extraordinary NA session on June 7, 11: 00 a.m.