11, 2010

A meeting at Bagratashen

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Today, at the conclusion of his working visit to Tavush marz, President Serzh Sargsyan conducted a meeting at Bagratashen. At the meeting along with the issues related to the modernization of the checkpoints discussed was the process of reformation and existing problems in the tax and customs systems. The President made observations regarding the tax revenue collection, took notice of the report made by the Head of State Tax Revenue Services and gave a number of assignments to the leadership of the Tax Revenue Services.

According to President Sargsyan, the level of tax collection growth slowly but steadily. He said that the important thing is that along with the growth the amount of overtaxing has decreased.

“Our main objective is to improve to the greatest possible extend the process of tax collection and get the least possible number of complaints. Work conducted for a considerable period of time – both last year and this year – allowed on one hand to influence the macroeconomic indicators of our economy, and on the other hand, most importantly, to finance our armed forces, pay pensions, salaries and solve a number of social issues. This tendency should be maintained , and positive developments, I mean the increase of the tax collection level, improvement of tax-GDP ratio allows, in general, to improve works of the tax and customs services,” the President of Armenia said.
Viewing tax collection as a difficult and tough job, which due to understandable reasons always creates some discontent since nobody in the world likes paying taxes, the President at the same time said that it would wrong to ascribe all instances of discontent to that reason, noting that there are also reasonable demands and justified complaints which are quite objective. According to Serzh Sargsyan, the heads of tax and customs administrations should be able to differentiate between the objective and other complaints, support all honest and diligent employees, and on the other hand to restrain all those who apply unacceptable methods trying to provide for the collection of the envisaged amount of taxes.

“Restraint of such employees must be one of your primary tasks. We should be able to solve with your assistance one of the most important issues – improvement of business climate in the Republic of Armenia. We should be able to ease the burden of tax administration. I am not talking about the reduction of tax categories or decrease of tax duties, I am talking about relieving the burden of tax administration itself. Numerous international structures are conducting research in our country and according to the data provided by the experts, an average entrepreneur apportions 985 working hours annually to pay his tax obligations. It makes almost 123 working days. It’s a very high figure. We have no right to take that much time from the people,” noted President Sargsyan.

The President of the country invited attention of the attendees to the trend which frequently causes displeasure of the citizens and appears in the news papers. According to the received information, relatives residing abroad send 30-40 thousand worth parcels to their relations in Armenia, however to receive them the citizens of Armenia have to pay amount two times exceeding the value of the parcel. The President said that it was inexplicable, stressing that the issue must be resolved expeditiously. Serzh Sargsyan also stressed the importance of decreasing the number of human contacts, using were appropriate electronic means of communication.
The President raised also another problem which commands immediate attention. He said that it’s inconceivable and unacceptable that legal persons, enterprises, which had ceased all operations, present tax reports, i.e. present reports for not working. President Sargsyan instructed to re-examine that practice and if it is envisaged by law, to introduced changes to the law.

According to the President of Armenia, tax discipline, collection of all due taxes cannot be in contradiction with the improvement of tax administration, or reduction of tax burden, and creation of favorable conditions for businesses. Visible positive tendencies, as well as example of other countries in the President’s opinion, show that it is quite an attainable goal.

“I should note that had there not been works aimed at the improvement, had there not been increase in the tax-GDP ratio, had there not been greater tax returns into the budget than previously envisaged, we would hardly be able to overcome the crisis the way we did. It doesn’t mean that all consequences of the crisis have already been eliminated and that we have no more problems, or that the economy is developing rapidly. No, it means that we have been able to overcome the crisis when it came to carrying on with social programs, paying pensions and ensuring continual payment of salaries to the teachers. Yes, we did it. When on one hand we improve our work on that direction, on the other hand are trying to address all issues related to tax collection, we find ourselves in a situation when the reforms should be introduced along the way. We have just visited the Ayrum railroad station. When train starts to move, we shouldn’t stop it. Let’s perceive tax collection as a train which is already in motion and at the same time the rails must be replaced, otherwise the train will either crash or, if the rails are not replaced, or if the train proceeds in a wrong direction, it will soon come to a dead end. Eventually, in both cases the advancement will stop. We have to implement these reforms, and people should be able to see the results of that work. If a businessman doesn’t see it, or a citizen doesn’t see it, or a tourist doesn’t see it, no matter how many time we repeat that we have made investments in that area and improved it, changed the appearances, and installed new equipment, it will be all worthless. In this regard too, the leadership of the State Tax Revenue Services must undertake steps which will be observable for the public,” said the President of Armenia.

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