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Yerevan Entrepreneurs Will Protest Everyday Against Turnover Tax Law: Gyumri Also Joins In

Small and medium-sized business owners and entrepreneurs protested for the second day this year in front of the Armenian government building, which again concluded with no result. Like yesterday, the protesters demanded, to no avail, that the PM Hovik Abrahamyan meet them outside the building. Yesterday, the PM agreed to meet with a delegation of 10 people to discuss the issues around the Law on Turnover Tax inside the the government building but was rejected by the protesters. However, the Government’s Reception of Citizens and Appeals department head Aleksander Ghazaryan told the protesters that Abrahamyan was not at work today.

The demonstrators have decided to protest until the nullification of the law.

“We are going to come here everyday, except for tomorrow because it’s a holiday (the anniversary of the formation of Armenian Army). We will be in front of the Government building from morning to 3PM, until the issue is resolved,” said entrepreneur Samson Grigoryan.

He underlined that the new law will increase the risk of corruption and force entrepreneurs to give bribes in order to solve issues with the tax services.

During yesterday’s demonstration, protesters spread information that their colleagues from the provinces, specifically from Shirak, would join them in their protest in front of the government building today.

Today, however, a few of the protesters told an Epress.am journalist that the roads from various provinces had been closed. The Gyumri based Journalists Club Asparez representative and journalist Sona Arakelyan told Epress.am that a few Gyumri residents came with their personal cars to Yerevan, while the protest against the Law on Turnover Tax took place near Gyumri’s clothing bazaar. Other merchants in other marketplaces closed their booths and joined the protest.

The entrepreneurs restarted their fast growing protests from last September-October, which were halted after the government promised to delay the compulsory inventorization of products until February 1st of 2015. The protest restarted yesterday, because the government refused to include other amendments to the law.

Last year, the protesters against the Law on Turnover Tax stated that they do not have possibility of inventorizing their products, because large distributors often do not give them invoices. In addition, in the case of inventorizing, their turnover would be over the legal minimum threshold of 58.3 million AMD ($126,000), so they would be forced to pay VAT, which would be impossible for small and medium sized businesses. Among the business owners, some demand that they sharply increase the threshold, while others demand the law be nullified.

Those who work in the gold trade have stressed that once the new law comes into effect they would be forced to immediately halt their work. Certain experts have noted that the inclusion of the Law on Turnover Tax would entirely wipe out small and medium sized businesses, while the members of government claim that the purpose is to fight against the illegal practices in large businesses and that they are not prepared to consider the law void.

During last year’s protest, the merchants received backlash from the owners of large marketplaces they rent space from. A few large marketplaces threatened to fire (or cancel rent contracts) those merchants who did not show up to work and protested. The most covered case was that of Vosku Shuka owner Vagharsh Abrahamyan who broke tables and showcases of those merchants who participated in the protests. the destructive behavior of Abrahamyan  was not dealt with by the police.