"We have to save Armenian oligarchs urgently: they are going bankrupt rapidly,” business journalist Hayk Gevorgyan writes in an article published in Haykakan Zhamanak daily newspaper Wednesday, with reference to the list of Armenia’s 1,000 largest taxpayers for 2015 released by the State Revenue Committee on January 26.
The first thing that catches one's eye when looking at this list, Gevorgyan points out, is Republican MP, businessman Samvel Aleksanyan's seemingly inevitable bankruptcy.
“Aleksanyan, naturally, claims he is not involved in any business whatsoever, and his only job is to make laws at the National Assembly day in, day out. Undoubtedly believable. Now let's see how much tax the companies absolutely not belonging to the lawmaker paid in 2015. The biggest and the most notable one – Alex Grig – paid AMD 18.2 billion (about USD 37 million) in taxes. Sam-Ser Group, not owned by Aleksanyan at all, was not even included in the list of last year's 1000 largest taxpayers. Natalie Pharm, another large company not even remotely related to Aleksanyan, paid AMD 3,9 billion in 2015.
“Is this too much, or too little? By way of comparison, in 2014, Alex Grig's taxes had amounted to AMD 21.5 billion, those of Sam-Ser Group – to AMD 3.2 billion, while Natalie Pharm had paid AMD 3.4 billion in taxes. The total amount of taxes paid by these three not-owned-by-Aleksanyan companies in 2014 was 28.1 billion drams – AMD 6 billion more than that of 2015,” Gevorgyan writes.
The journalist also mentions Catherine Group, owned by head of Judicial Acts Compulsory Enforcement Service Mihran Poghosyan, as a distinct example of a natural monopoly: the official's company holds a monopoly on banana imports to Armenia.
“[Catherine Group], of course, is not related to Poghosyan either. Not even remotely so. And why Mihran Poghosyan has been nicknamed Mihran of Catherine is the biggest mistery of the century.
“Anyway, Catherine Group, absolutely unrelated to Mihran of Catherine, paid AMD 1.2 billion in 2015 taxes, while in 2014, the company's taxes had amounted to AMD 1.6 billion. Here the amount has reduced by 25%."
In reality, though, Gevorgyan stresses, the oligarchs' revenues cannot reduce since the products they hold monopoly on are rapidly becoming cheaper across the world. “Our monopolists buy these goods at low costs and re-sell in Armenia at much higher ones. Basic math shows that their revenues have risen – to put it mildly. They have grown significantly. So, how come their taxes have decreased?”