YEREVAN—The Armenian Revolutionary Federation parliamentary bloc voiced its opposition to a bill approved Tuesday which slightly increased the monthly minimum wage in Armenia, saying the increase was insignificant, reported RFE/RL.
The parliament approved a government-backed bill, which increased the wage from 30,000 to 32,000 drams ($90)
The ARF urged for a sharper increase, calling on state and private employers to pay workers no less than 55,000 drams. An ARF bloc member Artsvik Minasian, said it will introduce legislation to address the party’s concerns.
Speaking to RFE/RL, Minasian claimed that the government could double the state budget if it pursued “correct economic policies.” He specifically called for a genuine government crackdown on the informal sector of the Armenian economy and other manifestations of tax evasion.
The increased figure will still be well below the cost of the official minimum consumer basket that currently stands at 41,500 drams. The Armenian government had pledged to gradually raise the minimum wage to that level by 2012, reported RFE/RL.
Hakob Hakobian, the chairman of the parliament committee on social affairs, said last year’s economic recession called that objective into question. “At the moment we cannot achieve that because of the economic crisis,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
The other opposition party represented in parliament, the Heritage party, called for the minimum wage to be set at 45,000 drams. “A sum can be called a wage only if it’s not below the per-capita consumer basket,” said Heritage Party parliament member Larisa Alaverdian, according to RFE/RL.
Pro-government parliament members said they would block efforts to alter the minimum wage, saying it will place a heavy burden on public finances and the private sector. According to RFE/RL, Hakobian also argued that public sector employees across Armenia already earn no less than 40,000 drams a month.
According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), the country’s average monthly wage rose by 8 percent to just over 106,000 drams ($295) in the first nine months of this year. The increase was effectively nullified by higher-than-expected consumer price inflation, according to RFE/RL.