Alessandro Zanotta, Economic Governance and Public Administration Reforms Adviser at the EU Delegation to Armenia, noted at the anti-corruption event organized in Vanadzor on 29 July that the current anti-corruption platform of cooperation between civil society organisations and the government is the best format to achieve results in Armenia and if successful other countries will learn from this experience.
“You must find solutions together, Armenian institutions and civil society, being inspired by innovative and IT-intensive models that are available in Europe such as in Estonia. This is the right format. And I am sure that Armenia can serve as an example for other countries if the fight against corruption is led efficiently here and shows concrete results”, said Mr. Zanotta.
Coordinator of the CSO Anti-Corruption Coalition of Armenia, President of the Armenian Lawyers’ Association Karen Zadoyan presented to the participants their most important accomplishments. In particular, he said that based on the recommendations of the Coalition and the Armenian Lawyers’ Association, two bills on creating a universal independent anti-corruption body and on the criminalization of illicit enrichment are currently being developed by the Prime Minister’s recommendation.
Mr. Zadoyan noted that it is expected to discuss the corruption problems in the business sector, including those in the customs and tax sectors, at the upcoming session of the Anti-Corruption Council. At the session they will also present the top-priority recommendations voiced during discussions in the Government-Business-CSO format, aiming at the implementation of reforms in these sectors.
Today, the results of the “Identification of Corruption Risks in Customs Clearance of Imported Cars to Armenia” project were summarized. The project was implemented in the scope of a small sub-grant allocated in the framework of the “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” project.
According to the findings of the sociological research conducted in the scope of the project, 75% of the citizens believes that reforms in the customs sector should be aimed at reduction of corruption risks. Aharon Adibekyan, the sociologist who conducted the sociological research, informed the participants that the primary problems connected with the import of cars are: customs clearance dues, difficulties related to the completion of customs clearance declarations, and the bureaucratic fuss.
According to the findings of the sociological research, only 5-15% fill out the declarations required for customs clearance by themselves, while the rest prefer to use specialized customs brokers’ services.
Gevorg Manukyan, the President of the “Armenian Constitutional Right-Protective Centre” (ACRPC) NGO that implemented the project, presented the results of the journalistic observations, the survey and the online discussions carried out in the scope of the project. Among the main problems he mentioned the difficulties that arise during self-declaration of cars using the transaction value method, the existing corruption risks, as well as citizens’ poor awareness of customs procedures. He also noted that the Customs Code is sold for AMD 20,000 which is quite expensive. In his words, it is also known that not all citizens are able to use the electronic version of the Code. Another problem is linked to the ambiguous definitions in the legislation. Those should be so clear that no room is left for the possibility of corruption deals.
Mher Martirosyan, the Deputy Head of the Customs Control Department of the State Revenue Committee, presented the reforms currently implemented in the field and attached importance to the SRC-CSO constructive cooperation aimed at voicing the corruption risks in the sector and solving them in the scope of joint working groups.
During the active discussion recommendations were proposed and questions on key issues were raised. In particular, one of the participants asked a question on customs clearance dues. It was suggested that electronic calculators be introduced for the citizens to be able to calculate the customs clearance cost for each given car on their own.
In the end, Alessandro Zanotta once again emphasized the importance of this multi-dimensional platform of fight against corruption and thanked the participants for the open and lively discussion.
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