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Armenia suspends jobless benefits, fuels emigration

13 January 2014 [12:00] - TODAY.AZ
By AzerNews

The Armenian government has suspended paying unemployment benefits, a decision which would be a major drive for higher emigration from the country.

"Armenia suspended the payment of unemployment compensation in accordance with the new law "On Employment" adopted by the Parliament at the end of 2013," said Armenian Minister of Labor and Social Issues Artem Asatryan on January 9.

Those in search of job were deprived of even a tiny shine of hope for life following the adoption of the new employment legislation, which envisaged suspension of unemployment allowances.

The South Caucasus country, which has poor economy and low living conditions, has the highest unemployment rate in the region.

According to the World Bank's report, the unemployment rate in Armenia is "far above the regional average" and 18 percent of the workforce is unemployed.

Unemployment and poverty are the major drives for increasing migration in Armenia, while the Armenian government is deepening the social tense of migration. And it occurs on the background of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan's promise to beautify the country's villages and towns to return outflowed people back.

Armenian media voices alarm that the country is near-empty and it seems that this is an ideal environment for the current leadership.

The migration has become a tool for Armenia's incumbent authorities to escape social disasters. Only registered money transfers to the country constitute half of the state budget. Furthermore, those who leave the country in search of better life are mostly the able-bodied and intelligent population, which can be an alternative political force.

Armenia remains a regional leader in illicit financial flows. A recent report published by the Global Financial Integrity suggests that during the period between 2002 and 2011 some $6.2 billion have been illegally taken out of Armenia as a result of government corruption, tax evasion and other illicit financial dealings.

Government's corruption activity encourages even the rector to misappropriate the university budget - seven professors' wage in amount of $3,210.

Rector of the State Engineering University of Armenia Ara Avetisyan awarded 650,000 drams ($1,605) for himself and 380,000 ($938) for Vice Rector Grisha Hovannisian on New Year.

The cases of corruption and misappropriation have become almost traditional in Armenia, whose government turns blind towards them. Even the authorities continue criticizing strongly the Ombudsman's last extraordinary report on corruption in the country, which was presented in early December 2013.

The survey on violations in the judicial system conducted by Ombudsman's office indicated that 69 percent of the respondents in Armenia believe that the judicial system is corrupt or extremely corrupt and the amount of bribes ranges from $500 to $50,000.

Armenian Prosecutor-General Gevorg Kostanyan asked for testimonies in a scandalous report of the Ombudsman, while the Union of Judges called the Ombudsman's report "anti-state and illegal".

The situation is complicated and alarming as the Armenian authorities actively encourage a mass people and illicit financial outflows and keep closed-eyes to corruption facts. No one would like to live in a poor country where the corruption flourishes. That suggests it is easy for Armenia's Sargsyan to rule near-empty and poor nation.

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