Levon Barseghyan, Member of “Gala” Faction of Gyumri Council of Elders, Susanna Asoyan, Member of “Prosperous Armenia” Faction of Gyumri Council of Elders, Seyran Martirosyan, Head of Shirak branch of The A. D. Sakharov Armenian Human Rights Centre, Human Rights Defender, Arthur Hambardzumyan, Former Mayor Candidate of “Civil Contract” Party, Arthur Grigoryan, Deputy Head ofDepartment of Local Self-Government and Republican Executive Bodies of Shirak Regional Administration and Vahan Martirosyan, Chief Expert of Development Programs and Analyses of Shirak Regional Administration.
Referring to the development programs of the region, Vahan Martirosyan said that Gyumri is involved in the Development Strategy of RA Shirak Region 2017-2025.
“During the strategy development, the strengths and weaknesses and opportunities are revealed, they are fully presented, and the priorities and goals are to be based on them,” the speaker said, adding, “Based on the statistics and study, the vision is developed to which extent the region will have been developed in 2025,” Martirosyan said.
Susanna Astoyan said that the potential of Gyumri is not totally used.
“Gyumri was a large industrial center during the USSR, especially in light industry. At the same time, Gyumri is considered a city of crafts and art. Our task is to fully utilize the potential. Guarantor of Gyumri development is Gyumri citizen,” Astoyan said.
She considers the number one issue in Gyumri the lack of jobs. All the speakers, including the representatives of the Shirak regional administration, agreed with the latter's assessment.
Arthur Grigoryan said that the community budget was allocated in such a way that priority community issues were solved, and the government's support was needed to address the development issue.
Levon Barseghyan agreeing with the above-mentioned opinion noted that the 6-million-budget is not enough even to renovate the roads in the city. In his opinion, communities have very weak financial capacities in Armenia.
“The share of all communities in Armenia is only 9.5-10% of the gross national budget, of which 6.5% falls to the capital Yerevan and 3.5% to all the other communities. This indicator speaks of having very weak communities. For comparison, in developed countries the share of these communities in the gross budget is more than 20 percent,” Barseghyan said.
The latter also noted that the state has established discrimination between Yerevan and other communities and provided an example of the volume of per capita budget, according to which one per capita in Yerevan costs 80,000AMD and 25-30,000AMD in Gyumri.
“Today it is profitable for Gyumri people to live in Yerevan, not in Gyumri. Why? When the Prime Minister was Mayor of Yerevan, by the council's decision, the kindergartens in the capital became free, whereas in all the communities of the country there is no such a thing. In Gyumri, 30-40 percent of children do not go to kindergartens because their parents are insolvent,” Barseghyan said.
The council member hesitates that the Mayor of Gyumri and the majority of the Council of Elders can have enough will and goal to solve the problems.
Seyran Martirosyan is convinced that in the case the council is elected via democratic principles the problems can be raised and solutions can be required.
“If you really have the Council of Elders with potential, a council members of which are elected on a different principle than on the principle of personal loyalty, faith, silence and vote for all issuess, it is possible. Everyone there should be critical of his approaches, putting his own questions on the agenda.”
Arthur Hambardzumyan considered the issue of legitimacy of power as the main reason for the unsolved problems. In his opinion, only legitimate authorities can solve problems. He also pointed out the problem of independence of the local self-government bodies, expressing an opinion that even the local self-government bodies do not realize that they are independent bodies and have no superiority.
“It is not realized or perceived that the local self-government body is an independent body. It is not important for me that the local self-governing body is governed by the representative of authorities or the opposition. In both cases, if the local self-government bodies are unable to act independently, this is a big problem already,” he said.
Arthur Grigoryan disagreed saying that the regional administration supported the local self-government bodies, not limited their independence.
“For example, the Shirak regional administration is actively cooperating with local self-government bodies, providing methodological support, starting with community service, staffing issues and ending with the support of local self-government bodies in fulfilling their powers,” Grigoryan said.
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