Interview with Republican Member of Parliament Hakob Hakobyan, chair of the Social Committee of the National Assembly Mr. Hakobyan, last week the government presented the sectoral allocations for the 2017 budget. The head of the SRC said he will struggle the shaded economy. How realistic can this statement be considering that Vardan Harutiunyan used to have a position in the past and saw the corrupt practices in gas supply?
There is a lifestyle that is as follows: there is no need to waste time on the past, it is necessary to evaluate the present to build the future. I don’t think today the criterion should be someone’s past status, actions, I don’t think it is real because the summary picture of all actions by a person or wisdom gained over time are a person’s present. Consequently, at any moment, before any action, a person must think about what they want. I believe that Vardan Harutiunyan wants that today because this is the purpose of the entire political team to reduce tax avoidance. This is the order of the political team, and is a life necessity. But didn’t the political team see the shadow for 8 years and lack a person who would head the sector and fight shadow?
I started with this long prelude for you not to ask questions from the past but you again continue to ask questions from the past. I would like to repeat that this is the order of the political team because the political team sees that this can’t go on. We achieved this through all our actions of the past, whether good or bad. Now will Vardan Harutiunyan be able to achieve these goals? I believe he will succeed because he is not alone in this fight, there are a lot of journalists, real demand of the political team and the society’s real demand. This requires actions, such as reducing tax avoidance. The prime minister is speaking about the plight of the economy. Does the government have a chance to succeed in six months or should the society wait longer to see change?
There are no short-term successes, there are steps that secure tomorrow’s success. I think in six months the prime minister will manage only structural, principal, HR issues to be able to secure tomorrow’s success. Administration is a mechanism that may change governance shortly. I would like to give an example about the success of these 6 months. I mean the speed cameras and parking fee. When you ask me why we did not think about it 3 years ago, 5 years ago, I will say we are now thinking about changing it not to go back. In other words, nobody could tell that something would change one day, everyone said it is necessary to reduce the price but now they are speaking about changing the system. We’ll see how it all will end. In other words, there are demands of the day and it is necessary to find the place of the people who will satisfy those demands. This is about sectors. What are the guarantees that this time the public will not be cheated, they will not give promises and will not keep them? We have seen the promises of the previous governments which remained promises. Is it possible that the promises of the new government will also remain on paper?
I understand that there is fear in people, I understand that the demands, the problems that people have were not resolved in the way they wanted them to. I understand that over time the changes made in the government system to achieve that purpose did not succeed either. However, the guarantee is in the hands of the same people, the same prime minister, the same journalist, the same member of parliament, the same voter. The guarantee is to live in the country as a citizen, the citizen must demand from the government, the journalist must cover all changes in public, social relations or positions, and the government must take actions to improve the life of citizens. In his interview with Al Jazeera Serzh Sargsyan did not rule out that he will be the prime minister if his political team wins whereas earlier he had announced that he will not be prime minister or speaker of National Assembly. Has something changed since his previous promises?
If you follow my speeches on this topic, I have always said that as leader of a political team Serzh Sargsyan can make a decision only after elections. The stance of the party and the leader of the party will depend on whether the Republicans win the parliamentary elections in 2017 or they form a coalition. Now it’s too early. What changes then are possible in the party, considering the statements that serious changes are expected in the upcoming congress of the Republican Party? Do you see the need of these changes?
I also heard about it, I’m not informed about changes in the party leadership. I would like to comment on this question with a Christian logic: of course, if there is a need for changes because if we have been speaking about changes in the demands of the society, the mutual responsibilities of the citizens and the state have changed, and claims underlie development, as always the building must change in the fundament-building logic. Will this government be able to relieve the social burden? The new cabinet did not promise to raise pensions and benefits. Will this deepen the lack of public confidence?
Raising pensions and benefits is a consequence, not a purpose. The purpose is to develop the economy. Pensions, benefits may come up in the prospect of economic development. The real purpose of the state is to help people socially, to help people earn their daily bread with their work, sustain their family in welfare. This is the first purpose of the state. And the situation that we failed, and we are giving out family benefits etc, trying to relieve the burden. In other words, when we are unable to provide jobs to people, give people relevant education which they can use to work, to create jobs, it is our fault, that we say the pensions or benefits did not rise. And if the Law on Funded Pension says the government contributes this much, and the citizens contribute that much to secure tomorrow’s pension, people are against this. How can we secure high pensions in a country where of three million people 620,000 work and 535,000 are pensioners?
And the norm that we refer to saying that about 30% shadow in our country, if they take this norm as an entry and pro rate the taken amounts in the public budget, the average size of pensions will rise from 41,000 to 50-53,000. Is this the amount that the citizens expect? No, therefore we must stop deviating from the goal. First, citizens must get education, second, citizens must have an opportunity created by the state to resolve the problems of their families, to take care of their pension. This is a complicated issue but we will not succeed unless we take that path. Do you think the failures of the past 25 years was not moving in that direction?