The government of Armenia is proposing to prohibit the turnover of meat of animals slaughtered outside slaughterhouses. The proposed amendments, drafted by the Ministry of Agriculture, suggest that violators of the law should be fined 20 000 to 100 000 drams (about $40-200). Small traders complain about the monopolization of the sphere and the kinship ties of officials from the sphere with the prime minister.
According to the head of the Food Safety Service of the Ministry of Agriculture Ishkhan Karapetyan, who presented the draft to the parliament on Thursday, there are currently 8 slaughterhouses operating in the country, and with the adoption of the law, the number is envisaged to increase to 40.
In a conversation with Epress.am, small meat traders suggested that the new law and the opening of additional slaughterhouses would inevitably lead to higher prices. “The recent rise in price was also rather contrived; they say there was not enough hay or that exports have increased. But how come the prices began to drop again after the complaints? They are merely controlling the corruption in the field by periodically increasing and lowering the prices. They raised prices to make sure that people do not slaughter animals until the new slaughterhouses are opened, which will of course belong to them,” said one of the butchers, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He added that a group of butchers had applied to the Ministry of Agriculture for a permit to build their own slaughterhouse. The Ministry, however, denied the appeal, saying that the applicant had to own property worth a hundred thousand dollars.
Another meat trader, meanwhile, said they were not going to protest against the new law: “Head of Food Safety Service Ishkhan Karapetyan is the son-in-law of prime minister Karen Karapetyan’s sister. Our protests would obviously be pointless.”
“There are slaughterhouses in Russia, but people are not obliged by law to use them. Besides, Armenia does not have high enough cattle breeding and agriculture levels to afford making slaughterhouses mandatory,” another butcher argued, insisting that the amendments would put an end to small trade.
“Every butcher sells his own product here – lungs, tongue, skin. Restaurants know where to find us and they come to us for cheaper-than-supermarket meats. If there are more slaughterhouses, they’ll start buying everything there.”