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Officials ‘Have Right to Live’ in Armenia, Too, State Revenue Committee Chairman Argues

The private business owners opposing the amendments to the Tax Code are merely resorting to manipulation to avoid paying taxes, State Revenue Committee Chairman Vardan Harutyunyan told reporters at the National Assembly on Tuesday, commenting on the small and medium-sized business owners’ demonstration outside the parliament building.

“Everyone will pay taxes. You (addressed reporters) have to stand by us and not support those who are trying to evade taxes by holding demonstrations. You have to explain to them that they cannot avoid paying taxes,” Harutyunyan stated. He added that small and medium-sized business owners are merely trying to conceal their real turnover.

“Not everyone is like that. There are, of course, law-abiding business owners, and we are thankful for these people. But there are those who try to hide under the veil of social vulnerability and poverty to push their agenda,” the Chairman said and pointed out that he was not talking about the Tsarukyan Alliance head, tycoon Gagik Tsarukyan.

The reporters reminded Harutyunyan that those who had gathered outside the National Assembly were arguing that instead of fighting the shadow economy in wholesale business, the authorities were increasing tax pressures on small business owners.

“There’s greater shadow in retail. By combating the shadow in retail business, we are also reducing the shadow in wholesale,” he countered. Harutyunyan then disagreed with reporters’ arguments that most businesses in Armenia belonged either to state officials or their children: “Who said officials or their relatives have no right [to own businesses]? My sons have greenhouses and agricultural lands. Don’t they have a right to live in this country?”