05, 2011

President Serzh Sargsyan invited a meeting with the participation of the management of Armenia’s largest agro processing companies

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President Serzh Sargsyan invited today a meeting with the participation of the management of Armenia’s largest agro processing companies. At the meeting with the leaders of a dozen of the processing companies from the capital and marzes, which was held at the Yerevan Beer Ltd, present were the RA Ministers of Agriculture, Finance, and Chairman of the State Revenue Committee, who presented problems existing in the area of agro purchases and processing, reforms carried out in the areas of tax and customs administration, which will touch different spheres, including creation of favorable conditions for the development projects for the private enterprises engaged in the area of agro processing.

At the outset, the President noted that his meetings with the major enterprises and taxpayers are intended to discuss directly with the businessmen their problems, talk about the present and the future of the enterprises working in different areas, and speak about their cooperation with the government. According to Serzh Sargsyan, at these meetings he has been stressing the importance of working with the State Revenue Committee and, in general, importance of the entire process pertinent to tax collection.

“When I say “process”, I don’t mean just the entries into the state budget, but rather simplification of the process, relieving the businesses of unduly burden with the expectation that the entrepreneurs will consciously do their best to fulfill their tax obligations, since we don’t have other sources of revenue to pay pensions, wages and defense expenses. That’s why, in this process we take every precaution not to create risks related to budget spending.

After the meeting with the leaders of the mining industry and the bankers, I felt it would be right to hold the next meeting with the leaders and owners of the processing enterprises because we meet every year, talk about purchases of agricultural produce and interaction with the farmers. However, I believe such meetings would be more efficient if they are held not in the end of summer or beginning of fall, when it becomes necessary to organize the entire purchase process, when there is time pressure and it becomes impossible to solve certain problems but rather now, when the time is right for us to discuss the problems which your companies face.

I am well aware that you’re conducting regular meetings with the Minster of Agriculture. He was once working in your area, thus I trust he’s fully aware of the problems existing in that particular area. I am also confident that cooperation of especially processing companies with the government, precisely, with the Ministry of Agriculture, will be more efficient. Our agreements are intact and the government, first of all the Ministry of Agriculture will support you in the process. The Ministry of Agriculture will be your willing partner on all issues, and in fall, as we noted at our last meeting, the state will stand by the farmers.

We have been constantly highlighting the importance of some issues, and today I would like to articulate them once again so that we don’t forget them. First, it is unacceptable when you sign contracts with the farmers but later, when circumstances change – the quantity of the produce, etc., start certain discussions related to the prices. It looks somewhat odd when in two neighboring regions, which do not differ much, we observe different prices for agricultural produce. I don’t think, it’s right. I believe the right approach is to start with the contract signing, so that folks understand the price their produce will be purchased by; it will also be easier for you to make up your future programs.

I realize that each product has, so to speak, two prices: one for the seller, the other for the buyer. The buyer wants to get it for less, the seller wants to sell it for more. But in both cases, the farmers as well as the businesses should be able to fix a reasonable price, so that next year the farmer is interested in growing that produce, and you, on the other hand, are able to purchase produce for the next year and sell it with profit. This process must be a two-way street.

I believe that even if not this year, then certainly next year, we should be able to ensure that all businesses, processing companies have preliminary assessment of the quantities of the produce to be purchased and consequently, have contracts. Contracts are essential. I assure you, that if we are able to sign contracts with the farmers on the quantity of the produce, next year the quantities of produce will increase. The number of processing companies is growing, their capabilities are increasing, and thank God, demand is great too. Probably, we should be able at some point to solve the issue of circulating assets so that the wheel spins faster. Every processing company I spoke with says that there is no problem with selling, save, of course, for some unforeseen force major situations and the fact that because of the crisis, the cognac sales have dropped. But it looks like we are approaching the highest - 2008 level of sales. What I mean is that you also have a mission to promote the production of agricultural products not only to process more produce, export it and have profit but also because the production will have a dramatic impact on inflation. And this is a significant factor.

We have agreed with the Prime Minister that he will be pursuing this issue personally until fall. In fall, we will come together with the Prime Minister and, of course, the Minister of Agriculture and review the results. I trust, at that time we will be able to talk more precisely about the conducted works and about certain results in the context of the entire year.

Just like other meetings, our today’s meeting is attended by the Chairman of the State Revenue Committee. I believe, in his remarks Mr. Khatchatrian will also touch upon the reforms which are being implemented in the structure today and speak about the problems that exist in the area you represent. As I have already noted, these changes are aimed at the regulation of the field, are aimed at freeing you from unnecessary red tape so that you spend less time in arranging your relations with the Committee and spend your valuable time for producing more goods,” President Sargsyan said at the meeting with the leaders of the major processing companies.

Afterwards, the participants of the meeting discussed with the President of Armenia problems existing in the area which impede its development. They also made proposals to address them.

Before the meeting, at Yerevan Beer Ltd President Serzh Sargsyan familiarized with the working process at the factory and its development programs, toured the agricultural produce storing, processing and juice producing units.

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