When is it time to live well in Armenia?
Yesterday, the National Assembly (Parliament) of Armenia, finally found time to arrange the parliamentary hearings on the ‘’Causes of rising prices for certain types of goods and opportunities to mitigate the consequences of this.’’ Of course, this should have been done much earlier, especially due to concerns among the public and political circles regarding the rise in prices for certain types of goods, as well as the proposals of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in this regard made on January 12, but not waiting for angry residents to protest on Yerevan’s streets.
However, as the newspaper Zhamanak writes, it is not surprising: some Armenian parliamentarians do not consider the growing prices as a danger, but on the contrary, see it as a grace.
"The chairman of the Permanent Commission on the Economic Issues, Khosrov Harutyunyan, who organized yesterday’s parliamentary hearings, said that the rise in prices should not be perceived as evil, moreover, it is a blessing because it promotes the economic development. Can it be enough of blessing? The authorities encourage price increases because it can create an imitation of the economic growth, and most importantly, it allows to collect more taxes,’’ the newspaper notes.
The staff of the editorial office of the 168 Zham newspaper conducted a curious investigation, the purpose of which was to find out how much money a month does a resident of Yerevan need to survive, live well and live very well in Armenia?
‘’The National Statistical Service (Natsstat) of Armenia, in addition to the poverty index, also provides a subjective poverty assessment, and the December 5 report contains this data, but it is not given much attention, despite the fact that it is very interesting. Thus, according to the NSS data, in 2016, about 120 523 drams or $ 251 were necessary per capita in order to make both ends meet on a monthly basis. In order to live well, you need to earn 347,234 drams or $ 723 monthly, and in order to live very well, you need 655 060 drams or $ 1363 in a month," the author of the publication writes.
Recall that in Armenia, the upper poverty threshold amounted to 40,867 drams in 2016: the poor were considered those people whose monthly consumption was below this amount. Meanwhile, according to the subjective assessment, all those people are considered poor, if their monthly income (presumably almost the same amount as he consumes) is below 120 thousand drams a month. "It turns out, that if we are guided not by an officially approved methodology but by the subjective perceptions of poverty of the population, the level of poverty in Armenia is much higher than 29.4%, and that's only the beginning. We just compared the published NSS data with results of a similar survey conducted in 2015.
As we see, the means to stay alive have become more expansive. Partially, the rise in price was determined by the exchange rate. The fact is that in the 2015 report, $ 1 was equal to 415 drams, and according to the 2016 report - 480 drams. Accordingly, the amount necessary to live very well has not changed in the dollar terms, and a 15% increase of the AMD equivalent is due to the exchange rate solely. However, the amount necessary for existence and for living well has increased much more than the exchange rate. That is, the means for the living have risen in price in the dollar equivalent,” the newspaper writes.
But it seems that the Armenian authorities live ‘very well’ despite any scenario, unlike ordinary Yerevan residents, who found the strength and opportunity to go out to protest against the rise in prices guided by the Yelk bloc on January 19. It is curious that this initiative did not find support among the political forces. The reason was not as much as a disagreement, but the personal attitude of other parties to this opposition force, which are getting nervous because of the Yelk’s activities. Yes, the riot was not numerous - about a thousand people took part in the procession, although, according to the head of the parliamentary faction of the Yelk bloc, Nikol Pashinyan, these price rallies affect everyone, and there is no such citizen in the country who is not concerned by this problem. But the bell has rung, and the voice of the protesters has been finally heard.
Now it is time for the authorities to speak: at today’s parliament meeting, the head of the National Statistical Service of Armenia, Stepan Mnatsakanyan, confirmed the fact of the price increase, assuring that the consumer prices data for January 2018 will be published on February 5. Introducing the already published data for January-December 2017, Mnatsakanyan recalled that in December 2017, inflation of Armenia’s consumer market was registered at the level of 1.5% compared to November, which is caused by a 3.6% increase in the prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages.
The head of the National Statistical Committee of Armenia also stressed that the rise in prices took place mainly during the 4th quarter of 2017, and ”the cumulative inflation for this period - the consumer price index - was 4.4%," the head of the National Statistical Service said.