The new NGO law has made two important innovations: the introduction of the volunteer institute and the right to engage in entrepreneurship. A discussion and training course was organized in the framework of the EU-funded “Commitment to Constructive Dialogue” project in Chambarak to introduce the provisions of the new law to the stakeholders. Representatives of 12 non-governmental organizations operating in Chambarak region of Gegharkunik marz attended the seminar.
The objective of the “Commitment to Constructive Dialogue” project is to strengthen the impact of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Armenia in the process developing public policies. Project Manager, President of the Armenian Lawyer’ Association Karen Zadoyan, presented the objectives of the project and the work done during the project implementation.
Further, he presented the provisions of the new law, which should be carefully observed in the course of operation. For example, it is necessary to clearly define the circumstances in which the NGO member is to be removed. In practice, there have been cases when a member removed from the NGO has appealed and restored membership as a result of the absence of reservations on the grounds for the removal in the Charter.
Project Partner Hakob Avagyan, the Executive Director SME Cooperation Association, presented the main issues arising from the exercise of the right to be engaged in entrepreneurial activities. In particular, he noted that at present it is rather complicated to understand which income is considered as derived from entrepreneurial activities and are subject to taxation, and which is not.
According to him, there is a preliminary answer to this question that a commission has been created at the Ministry of Finance, to which the organizations can apply, present relevant documents and get advice on whether or not the specific income is subject to taxation.
For the purposes of enhancing cooperation, Areg Tadevosyan, Coordinator of the EU-funded Community Development through Social Entrepreneurship project was also invited to participate in Chambatrak event. He briefed the participants on the most important principles of doing social entrepreneurship and achieving success, answered the questions, as well as provided advice on sectoral issues.
Irina Hovhannisyan, President of the “Astghatsolk” Sustainable Development Initiatives NGO, highlighted the effectiveness of the training and noted that at present many NGOs want to re-register their statutes at the State Register of Legal Entities, but they do not know how to do it or whether there is a need to do it.
“Over the past three years, I have not seen a case where Chambarak regional NGOs were gathered in a room discussing important issues,” Irina Hovhannisyan said highlighting the visit of the project representatives to Chambarak.
Gayane Khachatryan, president of “Aregouni” Social Development NGO, greatly emphasized the organization of such event in their city, noting that very often sector news reach them rather late. And as a result of this training, it became clear that it is necessary to carry out activities to create NGO networks in order to be strong and influential.
The training was organized in the office of “Astghatsolk” Sustainable Development Initiatives NGO.
It should be noted that after the training-discussion, the representatives of the “Commitment to Constructive Dialogue” and “Community Development through Social Entrepreneurship” projects visited the social businesses operating in the region, “Clay House” Ceramic Workshop and “Areg’ Puppet Theater. Here the representatives of the project provided consultancy on legal, tax and business-related issues of entrepreneurial activities.
The “Commitment to Constructive Dialogue” Project is implemented with the financial support of the European Union by the “Armenian Lawyers’ Association” NGO in cooperation with its partners; Agora Central Europe o.p.s (an NGO from the Czech Republic), Armenian Center for Democratic Education-CIVITAS, “International Center for Human Development” Public Organization, SME Cooperation Association and Union of Communities of Armenia.