The Ministers travel by Business Class, others by Economy Class

A considerable amount of money from the State Budget, which is formed by the fees of taxpayers, is wasted on trips of officials. Studying the purchases from one person made by ministries, we notice that ministers love to travel by business class, which are at least two times more expensive than the simple ones.

During 2014 the Ministries of Finances, Economics, Energy and Natural Resources, Justice, Environmental Protection, Agriculture, Education and Science (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not discussed due to its uniqueness of activities) are especially noted for the expenses of business trip tickets.

So, the Ministry of Justice spent 7 million 50 thousand AMD (almost $ 14 thousand 670) on the tickets of business trips abroad during 2014.

On July 18, the Minister of Justice Hovhanes Manukyan made an official visit to St. Petersburg to participate in the 9th session of the Council of the Ministers of Justice and the 4th International Legal forum of Petersburg. Armen Sanoyan accompanied the minister.

A contract for obtaining tickets for a 4-day visit was signed with “Tour Advice” Company. The cost of the contract was 1 million 457 thousand AMD. The economy class tickets were bought for Armen Sanoyan during the trips Yerevan – St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg– Moscow – Yerevan, whereas Hovhanes Manukyan traveled to St. Petersburg by economy class, and returned by the business class.

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At the beginning of November, the Minister Hovhanes Manukyan made a 3-day visit to Astana with Georgi Khachatryan and Nelli Avetisyan. The contract for obtaining tickets was signed with «Varar Holding» company, and the overall cost of the contract was 2 million 315 thousand AMD. One business class ticket was bought for the minister and two economy class tickets for Georgi Khachatryan and Nelli Avetisyan for Yerevan – Moscow – Astana – Moscow – Yerevan trips.

It is also interesting that the contract for the purchase of these tickets was signed on November 25, when the trips were on November 1-5.

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On November 20-22 the minister went to Moscow with the deputy minister Suren Qrmoyan and Narineh Soghomonyan on a two-day visit. For this trip the contract for the purchase of the tickets was again signed with “Varar Holding” Company, and the cost was 1 million 59 thousand AMD. The minister again traveled by business class, and the deputy minister and the other employer traveled by economy class.

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The Ministry of Education and Science bought tickets worth 4 million 202 thousand AMD (almost $ 8755). Minister Armen Ashotyan also prefers business class during trips.

Armen Ashotyan was the only representative of Armenia during the inauguration ceremony of the Ukrainian president Pyotor Poroshenko. He went to Kiev on June 7 and came back to Yerevan on the same day. The business class tickets for the trip were bought from “Pegas Travel” Company by 446 thousand AMD.

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On September 22-24 by the invitation of Yevgeni Ossinovski, the Minister of Science and Education of Estonia, Minister Armen Ashotyan, Tigran Sahakyan, the head of the International Cooperation and Diaspora Department of the Ministry of Science and Education, and Ruben Mirzakhanyan, the Rector of the Armenian State Pedagogical University, went to Tallinn for signing a collaboration agreement between the governments of Armenia and Estonia. As we learn from decision 959-A of the RA Prime-Minister, the expenses of the business trip of the rector were made from the university budget, and the expenses of Armen Ashotyan and Tigran Sahakyan were from the State budget.

The expenses of the Minister and the Head of the Administrative Department were 1 million 78 thousand AMD. The contract for purchase of the tickets was signed with “Pegas Travel”. One business class ticket and one economy class ticket were bought for Yerevan –Tallinn, Tallinn – Riga – Yerevan trips. By the way, just for comparison we would like to mention that the cost of the business-class tickets of the same direction was 793 thousand AMD, and that of the economy class was 285 thousand AMD, that is to say, almost three times cheaper.

In this case also, the contract of the tickets was signed after the business trip, on October 10; moreover, the decision of the Prime-Minister was also made after the business trip, on October 1.

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On September 30 – October 2 the delegation headed by Armen Ashotyan took part in the 3rd summit of teachers and employers from the field of education of the CIS countries, and in the next session of the Science and Education Ministers Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States. We learned from decision 985-A of the RA Prime-Minister that the delegation consisted of 4 people.

The contract of the tickets for the business trip Yerevan – Minsk – Yerevan was signed with “Armenia Travel + M” Company. The cost of the contract was 1 million 576 thousand AMD.

One business class ticket and three economy class tickets were bought for the trips Yerevan – Minsk and Minsk – Yerevan. The business class ticket was bought for one person and two directions was 715 thousand AMD, and the economy class ticket was 287 thousand AMD, that is, 2,5 times cheaper.

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In this case again the tickets’ contract was signed and the decision of the RA Prime-Minister was made after the business trip.

P.S. We will continuously present the costs of the business trips made by the ministries.

To be continued.

Astghik Karapaetyan