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Entrepreneur Talks About the Corrupt System of Legalized Bribery in Armenia: Metrology Institute

What obstacles do entrepreneurs in Armenia face when they also have civic responsibilities? In the first part of an upcoming series, entrepreneur, civic activist Vardges Gaspari talks to Epress.am about his experience.

According to Gaspari, in this scenario, an entrepreneur has only two options: either to solve his bureaucratic problems “in a brotherly way” and give officials legitimized bribes or to seek legal solutions. Should entrepreneurs decide to take the latter approach, they will inevitably get wound up in red tape, and at best the problems will get solved after dozens of appeals and complaints. This is a long and costly process, during which entrepreneur also lose the trust of their customers. The communication with customs authorities, Gaspari says, is a “no rules fighting,” similar to police lawlessness.

Gaspari talks about the obstacles that importing businessmen face in customs and tax authorities, as well as in several private organizations manually created by customs authorities for corrupt purposes.

Part 1: Institute of Metrology

At times, customs authorities require to be presented with references from the Institute of Metrology regarding the compatibility of imported goods with generally accepted standards. The entrepreneur then goes to the Metrology Institute, which, in turn, demands that the entrepreneur go back to the customs office and bring a single sample from each of the goods for sampling. In a few days, the Metrology Institute gives the necessary references, each of which cost from 3000 to 5000 drams (about $6-10).

Meanwhile, Gaspari stresses, there is a law clause, according to which, a Metrology Institute reference is not required if the quantity of the goods does not exceed 10. Customs authorities have told Gaspari that in this case, the Metrology Institute should issue him a reference stating that a reference is not required.

“The devices that I import from Korea and Taiwan are high precision devices. [So I asked the Metrology Institute], ‘how do you intend to determine their precision with your 60s equipment?’ This question, naturally, went unanswered. I demanded that they give me their sampling results, knowing, of course, that they did not have them. In the end, you only pay for that piece of paper,” Gaspari says.

Thanks to his persistence, the entrepreneur adds, he is no longer demanded to present such references; however, he knows that a number of importers still have to go through the red tape process.

Details in the video (ARM):