On 9 December, the Annual Anti-Corruption Award Ceremony was held on the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day. The event was organized on the initiative of the CSO Anti-Corruption Coalition of Armenia and the Armenian Lawyers’ Association within the framework of the EU-funded “Commitment Constructive Dialogue” project.
The programs and recommendations on the 4 target areas (Education, Health, State Revenue Collection and Police) of the RA Anti-Corruption Strategy 2015-2018, were discussed at the event.
Mr. Karen Zadoyan, “Commitment to Constructive Dialogue” Project manager and President of the Armenian Lawyers’ Association facilitated the discussion on the problems in the state revenue collection sector and the proposed solutions for them. He highlighted the fact that the submitted proposals were mostly accepted by the SRC.
Mr. Armen Saqapetoyan, Deputy Head of the SRC, who was present at the meeting, mentioned that a number of programs have been implemented over the past one and a half years, and as a result corruption cases have dropped significantly.
“CSO participation in such discussions and in the fight against corruption is very important, particularly within the framework of SRC functions,” Armen Saqapetoyan said.
He explained that the action plan was discussed in different platforms for about 5-6 months, including with NGOs. According to him, there were major reductions in the structure, around 500 employees were reduced, and structural changes that had a significant impact on the reduction of corruption risks took place.
Miss Syuzanna Soghomonyan, member of the independent experts of the expert center adjunct to the Anti-Corruption Council of the RA presented a number of priority points and innovations, submitted to the SRC, noting that international experience has been studied, domestic legislation analyzes have been conducted, focus groups of civil society representatives have been formed.
Susanna Soghomonyan mentioned that currently there are 3 types of customs control in Armenia: “Green” (without examination), “Yellow” (documentary scan), and “Red” (physical examination) zones. Now it is also proposed to introduce the 4th “Blue” (after-passage audit) zone.
When the system randomly chooses this or that custom cargo or product that must pass through the Blue Zone procedure; it implies that the product passes the customs border and after a certain period of time, the goods will be subject to inspection by the customs authorities through verification,” she said.
It should be noted that the criteria of the selective system will also be revised.
Another important proposal was made to the SRC as well, the installation of an online calculator when importing cars. That is, when importing vehicles into Armenia, the businessmen will be able to calculate through the SRC website how much the customs clearance for this vehicle will cost.
“In many cases, due to the unawareness of businesses larger amounts can be calculated at the customs checkpoints, whereas through this system we provide a directive price,” Syuzanna Soghomonyan explained.
According to her, corruption risks are manifested not only by the customs or tax bodies, but also by the economic entities. “When they are not informed or in an atmosphere of fear, they sometimes resort to corrupted proposals and rich an agreement with customs or tax inspectors,” the expert said. She also added that it is envisaged to create a public awareness block.