They are concerned over how the social-economic problems will be prioritized and resolved. The program suggests a centralized, budget variant.
On May 17 people in 22 communities in Syunik, Tavush and Lori regions will vote at the referendum.
At the Media Center initiated panel discussion in Shinuhayr village, Syunik, Ashot Galoyan, Head of Local Self-Government Department at the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Emergency Situations, said the consolidation does not imply relocation since it concerns only the change of the governance model of local authorities and centralization of financial resources. There will be a consolidation of community administrations.
“Eventually, we’ll have a single community head, council and budget. There will be appointed village heads in all communities. The array of services will be the same and people will not be affected. Moreover, services will increase. There will be terminals providing services to locals,” Galoyan commented.
From a perspective of rational spending and governing efficiency, Syunik Regional Council representative Seyran Avetisyan (Head of Department of Local Authorities and Executive Boards at regional council) believes the consolidation to be important.
“In terms of economy and administration, the regional council is directly related to the activities of local government. The funding villages now have is not sufficient to address issues,” Avetisyan said.
“The consolidation is important for staff policy as well as there is a lack of staff in villages right now. By a unified administration the staff policy will become more efficient,” Avetisyan believes.
An EU-funded needs assessment will be conducted in communities, the council and ministry representatives told the Media Center. The overall funding allocated to addressing issues in the villages to be consolidated makes three million Euros.
Smbat Yeremyan, Shinuhayr village head, said the process will lead to the consolidation of administrations and not villages.
“The territorial administration will be unified, with Shinuhayr as a center. Though some positions will be cut, new job openings for more required professions will be available. At first locals feared they might have to go to the center every time they need a reference, but then it turned out nothing of the kind will be. I also welcome the program and investments by the EU,” Yeremyan said.
Marat Gerasimyan, Head of Halidzor Village, believes the program is a jump to a more efficient administration system. “It will bring about investments and new services.”
Martiros Grigoryan, Head of Khot Village, hopes better new tools will be developed to distribute financial resources equally between villages.
“New services, new kindergartens. Problems must be solved, the birth rate must increase, the young must stay in villages, jobs must be created, and people must cultivate the ground. It will enhance the development of villages, at least we hope,” Grigoryan said.
Lilit Arakelyan, Editor-Coordinator
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