In a statement released on Tuesday, Gazprom Armenia, the local subsidiary of Russia's gas giant, said that it has applied to the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) for approval to reduce natural gas prices for Armenian consumers and certain groups of citizens; the price for regular consumers, in particular, is expected to drop from the current 146.7 to 139 drams per cubic meter, while as many as 105 000 financially vulnerable households will be charged a 100-dram tariff for 600 cubic meters consumed in a year.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, however, Armenian National Congress parliamentary faction secretary Aram Manukyan announced that the Armenian government was actually going to be subsidizing the difference in prices for the vulnerable consumers “from its scanty budget,” and that Gazprom Armenia was therefore the only entity benefiting from the offer.
“Gazprom will thus practically be guaranteed on-time payments. If ordinary citizens, pensioners would previously have troubles paying their gas bills, the government will now dutifully make these payments for them, ensuring Gazprom's profits,” Manukyan said.
The plan to cut gas tariffs, according to the lawmaker, is only a pre-election manoeuvre on the Armenian government's part made at the expense of the country's economy.
Another participant of the discussion, economist Artak Manukyan, said that he was convinced that the reduced prices would only be in force for several months. “Our state budget, with its measly revenues, will not be able to drag this strategy for long. Rest assured that even if the tariffs do decrease on January 1, they will go up again on June 1. This is a short-term plan.”