YEREVAN (Yerkir)-Armenian Presidential Candidate Vahan Hovannesian Wednesday met with residents of Shirak Region in the towns of Sarnaghbyur, Pemzashen, Artik, and Akhuryan.
Speaking in Sarnaghbiur about the country’s tax policies, Hovannesian, who is also an ARF Bureau member and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, told residents that people are often misled about taxes. Small businesses, he explained, pay taxes more promptly than large ones, who sometimes don’t pay taxes at all.
He also spoke about the practice of vote buying, which has been a major problem that has plagued Armenia’s past presidential elections. Hovannesian assured that his election campaign will not tolerate vote buying or the intimidation of voters by people looking for political favors.
Hovannesian also discussed serious economic issues such as poverty reduction, investment, and development.
According to Hovannesian, there has been little economic improvement for the average family. Inflation has been rising along with family aid, leaving people in the same circumstance of poverty, he explained.
Armenia’s welfare system should be revamped, because its failure to address poverty is contributing to the system of vote buying in Armenia. People, who consider themselves poor and destitute, are more willing to sell their votes for immediate relief, he explained.
Lack of any real investment in areas of the economy that will benefit the average citizens of Armenia is also a problem, Hovannesian said. The other regions of the country should be developed as well, not just Yerevan, he added.
"Money is invested to set up saunas, restauran’s, casinos and to build elite buildings," he said. "Businessmen are afraid to invest in other sectors to avoid pressuring tax and customs policies."
In Artik, ARF member and Deputy Science and Education Minister Bagrat Yesayan explained to hundreds of rally goers why the ARF nominated Vahan Hovannesian as the party’s presidential candidate. While, Artashes Shahbazian, the secretary of the ARF faction in parliament, explained that the ARF’s decision to field its own candidate stemmed from the party’s belief that everybody in Armenia’should prosper and not just a small group."
Hovannesian pledged that if elected, his first task will be to make sure elections in Armenia are conducted in a free and fair manner.
Hovannesian also spoke to the residents of Shirak about monopolies, and heavy taxes
Migration, one of the ARF’s key issues, was also addressed during Hovannesian’s visit to Shirak. "We should find ways to bring people back o Armenia," Hovannesian said.
During one of Hovannesian’s question and answer sessions, in Akhurian, a Karabakh war veteran asked Hovannesian what his stance is on the Karabakh issue. "Armenia’s policy on the Karabakh issue is a little too soft, while Azerbaijan is not ready for concessions. Azerbaijan too should be ready to make concessions," Hovannesian answered.