“Solutions to Social Problems in Pre-Election Programs: Realistic Solutions or Improbable Promises?”
A discussion entitled “Solutions to Social Problems in Pre-Election Programs: Realistic Solutions or Improbable Promises?” was held at Media Center on March 15.

The speakers of the discussion were Vahagn Khachatryan (ANC-PP Alliance), Vilen Khachatryan (“Armenian Renaissance” Party), Tigran Avinyan (Yelq Alliance),Smbat Saiyan (“Armenian Revolutionary Federation” Party), Samvel Harutyunyan (Free Democrats) and Vazgen Safaryan (Armenian Communist Party).   

Smbat Saiyan said that Armenian Revolutionary Federation tried to introduce systematic solutions to social problems.  

“We see the solution to problems in the following mechanisms: providing appropriate economic growth and revising the distribution system of results created by economic growth, ensuring more fair and effective redistribution of that result between different members of society. It is no secret that the wages are very low in our country and in this respect we think it is necessary to use the appropriate toolkit to ensure that the wages are provided and settle the problem. An employed person should not be considered a poor one, a working person should be able to solve his own problems,” Saiyan said.    

He added that in this regard the government has very limited toolkits to influence the wage growth.

“The first is the minimum wage institution, which should often be increased, the next toolkit is the wage defined for public employees, which directly or indirectly affects the salaries of the private sector,” Saiyan said.  

Vilen Khachatryan said that they intend to provide 500 thousand AMD for married couples.

“If 18 thousand families are made up annually in Armenia, it comprises 9-10 billion AMD, and if we consider it only for socially weak groups, then we can count on 30 percent of it which comprises 3 billion AMD. We suggest the idea of indexing subsidies and pensions, as Armenia is a social state as well, it is necessary that each person does not get poor in the case of the growth in consumer prices. This means that we need to implement indexing. Our fund of subsidies and pensions comprises 415-420 billion AMD in total and in the case of 2% inflation, it is a burden of 8-9 billion AMD on the budget. If the budget cannot be increased, it does not mean that if indexing is not conducted, it should be reduced each year. This means that in the case of any inflation, people feel impoverished,” Khachatryan said.

Vahagn Khachatryan presented remarkable facts that since 2004, people with 16 times more welfare get more income than the poorest people of the country.

“Costs have increased by 9 times. The current system created a situation when an atmosphere of social intolerance instead of social solidarity is established and we need to manage this change, the sense of our upcoming program is the above-mentioned issue,” Vahagn Khachatryan said.

He said that a transition period is necessary to recover the system.

“I think that the current system exists after the elections of 2003 when they realized that people go to streets to struggle and the struggling people should be poor,” Khachatryan said and added that the goal of their program is that the gross income distribution mechanism, the system is completely changed.

Tigran Avinyan introduced the position of “Yelq” Alliance about the social problems.

“The most important fact for the country's development and stability is that it becomes beneficial for people to live, work, conduct business in Armenia, and the closed borders and the war do not hinder it. If we come to power, we will increase salaries and pensions by 20 percent. Currently, the pension fund is approximately 600 million dollars. Over five years, it comprises about $ 120 million for that 20%,” Avinyan said.

He adds that their approach is aimed at further optimization of all state institutions and intends to raise salaries, automation, using the latest technologies.

Vazgen Safaryan says that the provisions of the program of Communist Party of Armenia intend increasing pensions in the next 5 years and increasing the minimum wage twice.

“The current economic policy created such a situation when about 40 percent of our budget goes to social problems, it is the result of a wrong economic policy, and we want the economic policy to change. We are talking about the regulatory role of the state and it is necessary to introduce a model of state planning,” Safaryan said.

Samvel Harutyunyan said that for increasing welfare of people, the Free Democrats Party made a program on a high scientific level.

“Fortunately, the program is not only what to do but how to do. We believe that there are actually no salaries, no pensions, it is just a shame what we have today,” he said.

To watch the video, follow the link.  

Lilit Arakelyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to lilitarakelyan@pjc.am.

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