Parliament Prez and MP Get Lucrative Mining License

Parliament Prez and MP Get Lucrative Mining License

Edik Baghdasaryan, Hetq

Paramount Gold Mining Ltd., a company owned by RA National Assembly President Hovik Abrahamyan and MO Tigran Arzakantsyan, was granted license to mine the Meghradzor gold mine’s Lusatchur section in Kotayk Marz.

MP Tigran Arzakantsyan rarely attends parliament sessions and if he is in Armenia at all it means it’s related to some business dealings.

In April, MP Arzakantsyan was in Armenia. After the mining license deal became known, so too was the MP’s reason for visiting Armenia. He had come to Armenia so that Energy Minister Armen Movsisyan could present to the government the next “eminent domain” package, according to which 3.22 hectares of private land would be rezoned as “in the public interest” and transferred over to Paramount Gold Mining.

On March 15, 2011, the RA Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources granted the company a mining license for 41.1 hectares. However, 3.22 hectares of the parcel belonged to other private owners thus “preventing the company from carrying out its contractual obligations”.

The government needed to remove this obstacle. Enter National Assembly President Hovik Abrahamyan and MP Tigran Arzakantsyan to the rescue.

The government based its eminent domain decision on the argument that Paramount Gold Mining would be investing about $ 6 million into the project and that annually 150,000 tons of ore would be extracted resulting in1,100 kilos of gold. The company would also be paying a 223 million AMD natural resources utilization fee to the government in return, as well as related taxes, etc.

The government argued that such an operation would also help maintain the country’s GDP growth.

Delving further into the government’s justification for the license grant, we read,” Operation of the mine will also help raise employment rates in Kotayk Marz, the creation of 300-450 well-paying jobs and will ameliorate the socio-economic situation for residents of Meghradzor and surrounding communities.

I again state that nothing can change for better in Armenia’s economic sector, given the close link that still exists between the political and business spheres. Government decisions regarding the “public interest” have nothing to do with the public, but rather serve to advance the business interests of MP’s and other government officials.

No one is preventing Hovik Abrahamyan from engaging in business, of which he has many. He is free to do so, but first he must resign his position as parliamentary president.

Tigran Arzakantsyan holds more than ten mining licenses, a cognac factory in France and other interests. No wonder he spends most of his time there. One wonders why he sees the need or desire to serve as a member of parliament anyway.

The only logical reason that I can see is that he also wants to make off with taxpayer money.

This “eminent domain” racket has to be investigated further.

As it stands now the public should be told what government official or MP is at the receiving end of all this largesse.

The government’s press office should be citing names in its releases and not faceless companies.

For instance, certain lands in the community of Artavaz, Kotayk Marz, were handed over to businessman and MP Gagig Abrahamyan in an “eminent domain” deal.

Or, lands in Kajaran, Syunik Marz, were handed to businessman Maksim Hakobyan or former President Robert Kocharyan; Meghradzor was handed to NA President Hovik Abrahamyan, and so on.

This way at least we’d know up front who is getting what. We, the average taxpayers of Armenia, already know were getting fleeced. Now we’ll know by whose hands.

14:17 May 10, 2011


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