Were the Anti-Corruption Measures of the Government implemented in the Sphere of State Revenue Collection effective? Discussion in Gavar

The Government has carried out substantial measures directed to fight against corruption in the sphere of state revenue collection, which were planned in 2009-2012 Anti-Corruption Strategy. However, it is more important to assess the extent of the positive impact that those measures had upon the economic development and activity.

Today, a discussion about communication issues with the taxation and customs services on corruption issues in the sphere of the state revenue collection “The Corruption Risks in the Sphere of the State Revenue Collection: Public Control Mechanisms”, which was organized in the framework of “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” Project.

Expert Nelly Harutyunyan, the Regional Coordinator of the project informed that the “Multi-Faceted Anti-Corruption Promotion” project is funded by the European Union and OSCE Yerevan Office and is implemented by the Armenian Young Lawyers Association NGO and its pratner Freedom of Information center. Project duration is three years.

Mr. Artak Saribekyan, AYLA Executive director and the Grants Manager of the project welcomed the participants and wished them a successful and efficient discussion.

Although the Government presents that as a result of anti-corruption measures undertaken in 2009-2012 the direct contacts between the tax payers and the representatives of tax services had significantly reduced, and the tax authorities had increased the efficiency of their human resources, as well as the openness and accountability of tax services, however, serious problems still appear in the sphere.

“In this case it is not so important to find out the percentage of successfully implemented steps that were designed in the strategy, but rather to find out the extent of efficiency of those steps and to what extent they had promoted the development and activity of the economy. I do not know about the situation in Gvara, but in Yerevan there are a lot of shops with announcements on them such as “Liquidation prices due to the termination of the shop”, or “space is for sale. And this everyday monitoring shows that the tax reforms do not contribute to economic activity or development,” Marat Atovmyan, local expert of the project said in his speech.

In addition in the 2015-2018 Anti-Corruption Strategy, according to Marat Atovmyan, in the section referring to the state revenue collection, there is a senseless paragraph, which mentions that corresponding comprehensive studies should be carried out during the first year, after which the anti-corruption measures will be defined, “With this the Government intends to say that they do not know what corruption risks are there in that sphere.”

Mr. Carl Ulbricht, the international expert of the project spoke about the anti-corruption public control mechanisms in the sphere of state revenue collection. Mrs. Astghik Karapetyan, journalist of independent professional website Iravaban.net presented the methods of carrying out investigation of data in the sphere of state revenue collection.

The representatives of regional CSOs were very interested in the subject and raised a number of issues related to the field: among them the illegal and unethical behavior of tax inspectors, creating of unequal conditions for citizens by the customs inspectors, and other issues. And although the representatives of concerned governmental authorities had been invited to participate in the discussion, but they did not come without any justification.