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Parliamentary Hearings on Gas and Politics

Armenia’s parliament today held hearings initiated by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun, or ARF-D) to discuss the price of gas. Earlier the parliament had put off ARF-D’s proposal to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the issue of pricing gas. Apparently the parliament leadership knew that the price of gas was going to fall, therefore it decided to put off the issue, reports local news source Lragir.am.

However, the hearings will take place. And members of parliament must demand presentation of the pattern of pricing by ArmRosGazprom (ARG).

“We cannot allow them to sell gas to our households for 340 dollars when Armenia buys gas for 180 dollars at the border,” said Armen Poghosyan, president of the Armenian Union of Consumers.

Beginning April 1, some households will pay less for gas, but it does not settle the issue; on the contrary, it aggravates the problem. The reduction, which was presented as a social program, indicates that ARG is able to cut the prices but failed to do it not to lose profit. And the fact that the company agreed to cut the bills upon an “order” or “request” from the Armenian president indicates that ARG is politicized.

ARF-D has initiated a necessary process and must go all the way to reach the goal, to reveal the pattern of establishing prices in Armenia, the role of the government and the degree of freedom of monopolies. If today ARG makes a positive step and cuts the gas bill on the president’s request, tomorrow on another request, ARG may raise the price or close the pipe. This course of events can be prevented if the political component is removed from ARG and the company performs its implicit commercial role.

At the same time, this will answer those questions appearing in the press every now and then that ARG “sponsors” the Armenian government, and in most cases this determines the rise in the price of gas.