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The Two-Day Session of the Economic Policy Council Inspires Optimism that We are on the Right Track: PM Pashinyan

Chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the work of the two-day session of the Economic Policy Council under the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia continued and was summarized on August 7 at the Dilijan Training and Research Center of the Central Bank of Armenia.

On the second day of the session, issues related to sustainable development of agriculture and food system, improvement of competitiveness of agriculture through land reforms were discussed. Deputy Minister of Economy Arman Khojoyan made reports.

The Deputy Minister referred to the Government's vision of the sustainable development of the food system, which is aimed at the development of high-value agricultural products. strategic goals, priorities, challenges and current programs were presented. He noted that in 2021 the gross agricultural output amounted to 933 million AMD, recording an increase. The effectiveness of the state agricultural equipment leasing program was emphasized, within the framework of which equipment is renewed by 2% per year. today there are more than 26,000 units of agricultural machinery in Armenia, and the increase in productivity in some directions, for example, in the field of export of canned fruits and vegetables is conditioned by the successful course of this program. The efficiency of intensive orchard establishment and agricultural risk insurance programs were also mentioned.

A discussion was held about the agricultural reforms of the Government and the toolkit for promoting productivity. Issues related to the tax rates applied to food products were discussed, observations and recommendations were presented.

Next, the concept of improving the competitiveness of agriculture through land reforms was presented. It was noted that it is aimed at overcoming the problems of land fragmentation, low availability of irrigation water and financial resources, poorly developed infrastructure, and the complexity of the property transfer process. For this purpose, state support programs are already in place: creation of agricultural cooperatives, subsidizing interest rates on agricultural loans, etc. It is also planned to implement a pilot project in 4 settlements using land consolidation, support for legal documentation processes through an online platform, and other tools.

The Prime Minister noted that the primary reason for the non-use of land is the lack of the land market, and the land reform should be primarily aimed at its formation. An exchange of ideas took place around the presented concept. The possible measures for the development of irrigation infrastructures, increasing the productivity of agriculture, increasing the level of land usability and options for solving existing problems were discussed.

After the discussion of the issues on the agenda, the session of the Economic Policy Council under the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia ended. Summarizing the discussions, Nikol Pashinyan noted,

“Dear colleagues,

Honorable Mr. President,

We must summarize our work, and first of all I want to thank everyone present for their active participation. This is, in fact, the preliminary session of our Economic Policy Council, based on the results of which we should decide, first of all, the further course of our work in this format. We actually have these kind of discussions quite often, and what's the new component to this format? The first is the formalization and approval of the name and the second is the participation of our invited experts in this work. I would like to thank them again, not only for today, but also for their willingness to continue the work.

We had a short working discussion this morning and our main desire is to have an independent group of experts, which will not be connected to the Government or the authorities politically or otherwise, and which will accompany the Government's economic reform agenda as an independent and impartial body. This is the first. And secondly, it should become a bridge between the Government's reform agenda and, figuratively speaking, with the international expert community, because we may need expert opinions on some specific topics, and the members of the Economic Policy Council will help us find the experts in that field, who can provide the best advice to the Armenian Government.

We have agreed that the "Center for Economic Perspectives” Foundation, under the leadership of Mr. Javadyan, will organize, take an organizational role to carry out the work and communication of this council, which is very important.

Did I draw a specific working conclusion for myself from these discussions or not? I have to say, when I was thinking about what is the specific working conclusion from our discussions, I want to go back to the discussion we had at the end of yesterday, which opened with regard to priorities, but I will put a bit differently. As a result of the discussions, I came to the following conclusion: all our sectoral programs are actually multilayered, made up of many lines. It is very important for us to be able to identify the lines that deserve our greater attention because they are of central importance. I can show this with the following figurative example: I am thinking that if the horses, the yoke and the carriage, figuratively speaking, are placed on different lines of one big plan, they can certainly provide some movement, but they cannot provide a process. For this it is very important that the horses, yoke and carriage are arranged in the correct order to ensure the course.

We have, for example, many programs where we provide some movement but not the process. And I will not be ashamed to admit that the most vivid example of it is the digitalization agenda in the Republic of Armenia, when we recorded that in fact a lot of effort is being invested in the field of digitalization, huge resources have been spent in the last 20 years, and work has been done, but nothing has happened in terms of digitalization. We want to understand why so many resources have been spent, but in the field of digitalization, the Republic of Armenia is actually in a very initial situation. It turned out to be the same problem because we did not solve the horse, yoke and carriage issue. We decided to turn to expert assistance to understand how to transform the movement in that area into a process. And when the experts arrived, they were able to help us understand that, so to speak, there are guiding points or engines of the process, and we should pay more attention to those engines, which will ensure the further process. Even with much less effort, spending less resources, as a result of proper organization, we can ensure a fast process.
As a result of this discussion, I would, for example, give this recommendation to the Government and public administration bodies, so that we once again look at our programs and see which lines of them need additional regulation and which we should raise to higher lines of the agenda - to ensure their movement and consequently ensure the process of implementation of both the sectoral programs and the general management plan.

Dear Mr. President, let me once again thank specifically you for your participation. We agreed that we will continue discussions in that mood.

Once again, I want to thank our invited experts for their very important work. I am sure, the work of these two days gives me optimism that we are on the right track. Moreover, I want to say that we have thought about this expert problem for a long time with the same logic, but we have constantly seen that something does not work for many reasons, starting with the fact that sometimes it is not possible to put aside politics, which, from the beginning, creates a very serious problem, and we hope that we have found some model that answers our questions.

Thank you again, we will agree on the next meeting and the working schedule in general. I wish everyone success."


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