The statement of the State Revenue Committee on the attempt of “unidentified people” to set obstacles to an economic operator importing bananas and on overcoming the obstacle has definitely brought new shades to the process of redesign inside the Armenian government. Interestingly, the statement of the State Revenue Committee followed another statement by Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan relating to the head of the State Committee for Protection of Economic Competition who had made several scandalous decisions on beer producers. Prime Minister urged Shaboyan to leave alone the beer market where there is competition and deal with other consumer goods markets which cause complaints and concerns.
A few days later the SRC spread the message on the banana market which is actually a statement on “crashing” the monopoly through operative actions. This statement causes a few questions, and the issue of monopolies remains open but after Karen Karapetyan’s appeal addressed to the State Committee for Protection of Economic Competition the SRC statement reflects some interesting “underwater” developments.
The fact that Vardan Harutiunyan, with the new head of SRC being the ex-director of Gazprom Armenia and Karen Karapetyan’s deputy for many years, the SRC would undoubtedly be Prime Minister Karapetyan’s heavy artillery. As head of SRC, Vardan Harutiunyan started forming his team, got rid of several people who used to be odious figures and had a bad reputation among entrepreneurs. Harutiunyan announced that the rules of the game have changed, and everyone will see how they act.
At the same time, the issue of monopolies, shady deals, protectionism is one of the primary issues since Karen Karapetyan took on his position. In addition, this is not only about intrigues. Simply no prime minister can expect any significant results in changing the economic situation unless results are achieved in the fight against monopolies and tax avoidance.
Of course, the situation is not unequivocal and systemic overcoming of monopolies requires steps that are deeper than what is reflected in the SRC statement. At the same time, it is clear that some both objective and subjective steps make sudden steps impossible, even if they have a strong and well-grounded public demand and stem from the needs of the economy and the nation. After all, irrespective of one segment or another, the global issue and priorities in the ruling system remain retention of power.
Nevertheless, the issue of power caused an internecine clash where now Karen Karapetyan is one the front line and is facing responsibility and the necessity to take a series of steps. In this respect, the statement of the SRC is the strike by Karen Karapetyan’s artillery the targets of which are political rather than economic. Interestingly, the SRC’s statement comes in the context of rumors about prime minister’s likelihood to become a Republican and official uncertainty over this prospect, which produces an impression that a fight of positions is underway in the Prime Minister-Serzh Sargsyan-Republican Party triangle.
In this sense, the SRC’s statement was Karen Karapetyan’s artillery fire at the posts.
Will there be a counterattack? This is an interesting question and definitely depends on Serzh Sargsyan’s attitude to it.
In this context, the situation is interesting in the sugar market. The Armenian Time reported that the price of sugar has increased in the groceries. And though the price of sugar is growing on the international market too, the sugar made in Armenia is produced by the company owned by Member of Parliament Samvel Alexanyan from raw material bought last year at low prices, so there is no economic justification to the expensive price.
As is known the sugar market is the other monopoly in Armenia, and it is interesting whether the sudden increase in price of sugar is Samvel Alexanyan’s self-defense, a threat of sabotage, intended to prevent Karapetyan’s next artillery fire?
And the fire is possible, considering the speed that the prime minister put on after his reprimand to Shaboyan. Thereby Karen Karapetyan stated that he does not control such an important tool as the State Committee for Protection of Economic Competition but he also immediately demonstrated that he has another important tool, the SRC, which was put to use.
As is known, the artillery is the “god of war” and the outcome of wars depends largely on how the artillery will work. Obviously, nothing will end with one fire. Everything has just started. It is interesting to know the next target.