National Assembly monitoring: monitoring results of the 1st and 2nd sessions of the 6th convocation parliament
“An unprecedented number of laws were adopted at the 2nd session of the 6th convocation NA,” stated Lusine Vasilyan, NA Monitoring Program Manager at the press conference hosted by the Media Center on February 15, summing up the findings of the NA monitoring of the 1st and 2nd sessions of the 6th convocation parliament.

"As compared to the 90 laws passed at the 2nd session of the parliament of the previous convocation, at its 2nd session the 6th convocation parliament passed 254 laws, which is 3 times more. This means that the intensity of passing laws increased. This was also promoted by the new regulation under which discussions are conducted under an expedient procedure and particularly, less time is given to speeches, main and related reporters and questions," Lusine Vasilyan mentioned.

She emphasized that RPA (Republican Party of Armenia) voted for most of the drafts, Tsarukyan Bloc abstained from voting and Yelk Bloc voted against most of the drafts.

“40 out of the 105 deputies asked no questions and gave no speeches; they just voted. 14 of them are from Tsarukyan Bloc and 26 are from the RPA," she said adding that the deputy voting against most of drafts was Lena Nazaryan from Yelk Bloc and the deputy abstaining from most drafts was Vardan Karapetyan from Tsarukyan faction.

According to the monitoring results, the most active faction is Yelk, despite the scarcity of its deputies. The 9-member faction has voiced more than 300 speeches and questions; this means that each member had 10 speeches on average. The same indicator was 1 for the ARF (Armenian Revolutionary Federation).

Vasilyan noted that like the previous session, during this session the deputy missing the sessions most often was again Gagik Tsarukyan, head of Tsarukyan Bloc faction, and the most active deputy during the both sessions of the 6th convocation parliament was Artak Zeynalyan from Yelk faction.

Program expert Mariam Barseghyan, who also took part in the discussion, noted in her turn that no ethics commission was set up during the 1st and 2nd sessions of the 6th convocation parliament. The reason is not the absence of scandalous deputies but rather the NA Regulation Law.

"In fact, it can be stated that no ethics commission will be set up at the NA, unless RPA wants so. Whereas, in the parliament of the previous convocation, the ethics commission was set up by the requirement of law. The amendments to the Regulation removed this provision. An ethics commission may be set up if there is a specific issue to be considered. During these 2 sessions, only one such issue took form of a draft. It concerned the notorious Pashinyan-Geghamyan incident," she said.

Discussion participant Artak Zeynalyan, deputy from Yelk NA opposition faction, believes that given the parliamentary governance, the real role of the National Assembly of becoming a real policy-making force in the country is in some sense a matter of culture. At the same time, according to him, a number of powers of the parliament, e.g. the possibilities granted to the opposition factions, will remain solely theoretical as they are now.

According to the monitoring results, the lion share, i.e. 90% of the legislative initiatives during the first 2 sessions of this parliament were put forth by the government.

Another discussion participant NA Republican faction deputy Rustam Makhmudyan considers such state of affairs quite normal as it is the government that is much better aware of the need for amending laws in any field.

Opposition deputy Artak Zeynalyan does not highlight the fact that most draft laws are put forth by the government. According to him, the passed laws are put forth by the majority and the legislative initiatives of the political minority are not accepted.

The opposition deputy also noted that at the sessions of the parliament of this convocation, less time is allocated to the preliminary discussions of drafts and as a result, the parliament has to handle poor draft laws.

The NA monitoring also considered the amounts declared by the deputies; accordingly, as of May 18 of the previous year, i.e. on the day of taking the office, all the NA deputies declared 7 billion 431 million AMD, 35.9 million AMD, 10.5 million rubles and 7.5 thousand Swiss francs.

Discussion participant expert Babken Tunyan notes that if the funds are converted into dollars, it turns out that all the deputies together own a sum of about 61 million USD.

"I want to note one important thing: as we compare this sum with that declared by the deputies of the parliament of the previous convocation, it turns out that the sum of such funds dropped. Instead, the amount of loans increased. That is to say, more and more people declare their funds not as cash but rather word them as loans," Tunyan said.

According to Tunyan, the analysis reveals that the Armenian deputies prefer to keep their funds mostly in dollars. 60% of the deputies have their funds in dollars.

According to the expert, most funds are owned by the RPA faction, namely the amount in all the currencies equals 15.4 billion AMD.  The RPA faction is followed by Tsarukyan Bloc: 13.9 billion AMD, ARF - 189 million AMD and Yelk Bloc - 35.5 million AMD. However, in terms of average cash income per deputy, Tsarukyan Bloc ranks first. As compared to the average amount per RPA faction deputy making 285.3 million AMD, that per deputy in Tsarukyan Bloc reaches 450 million AMD. This is conditioned by the funds declared by one person, namely Gagik Tsarukyan.

Among the deputies who declared most considerable funds, Gagik Tsarukyan ranks first with 9 billion 90 million AMD or 18.8 million USD and Samvel Alexanyan from the RPA ranks second with 4 billion 249.8 million AMD or 8.8 million USD.

In total, according to Tunyan, there are 11 dollar millionaires in the National Assembly.

6 of them are from the RPA and 5 are from Tsarukyan faction. Of the 101 deputies who filled in a declaration, 26 have declared zero funds.

The deputies mentioned various sources of income, including received loans, donations, salaries, etc.

These 5 deputies declared the highest income: Gagik Tsarukyan, Ashot Arsenyan, Arkady Hambardzumyan, Hermine Naghdalyan and Aram Harutyunyan.

Lilit Arakelyan, Media Center Project Editor/Coordinator

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