Hetq: Pashinyan secretly orders doubling of salaries for ministers

Hetq: Pashinyan secretly orders doubling of salaries for ministers

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan ordered in July the doubling of salaries paid to ministers, deputy ministers and chief secretaries of ministries. The government kept the order a secret.

To verify the information Hetq received about the secret order, we wrote to three ministries.

It received May-August data on the number of employees and the salary fund.

In the case of one ministry, there was a substantial difference in the salaries of the same number of employees. We sent an additional inquiry to the three ministers asking how much the minister had received in terms of salary, bonuses, and other salaries.

For example, Emergency Affairs Minister Felix Tsolakyan received a salary of 6 million drams in May, June, July, and August, as was the case with Environment Minister Eric Grigoryan. If we divide the salary by 4 months, we get 1.5 million drams a month.

We had sent a similar inquiry to the Minister of Finance Atom Janjughazyan. The secretary-general of the ministry did not provide us with information about Janjughazyan’s salary. Instead, he suggested waiting for the annual disclosure.

The amount of salary of public officials in Armenia is defined by law.

According to the RA Law on Remuneration of Public Officials, a minister’s salary coefficient is 12. In order to receive a minister’s salary, this number must be multiplied by the base salary of 66,140 drams. The sum is AMD 793,680, which includes taxes. Meanwhile, without making any changes to the law, the secretary’s order doubled, amounting to 1.5 million drams, according to the prime minister’s secret order.

The same is the case with the salaries of deputy ministers and chief secretaries.

According to the coefficient stipulated by law, the salary of a deputy minister is 562,160 drams, which became 1.060 million drams. The salary of a chief secretary has increased from 595,260 thousand drams to 870,000 drams.

When we understood what had happened, we asked PM Nikol Pashinyan in writing asking why the process had been carried out in secret.

Here is the response of Armen Khachatryan, Acting Head of the Information and Public Relations Department of the Prime Minister’s Office:

“The issue you raised was, as you have mentioned, carried out by secret procedure, so such information is not subject to disclosure. It is important for us to note that the officials you cite submit a declaration of property, income, and interests, which implies that the above process is entirely public and transparent.”

In first LA visit, Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan addresses thousands of the diaspora community outside City Hall

Pashinyan made his first visit Sunday to Los Angeles, the largest Armenian population center outside the Republic of Armenia.

Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, waves at the assembled spectators during a rally at Los Angeles City Hall/Grand Park in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sep 22, 2019. (Photo by Ed Crisostomo, Contributing Photographer)


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Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, address the audience during a rally at Los Angeles City Hall/Grand Park in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sep 22, 2019. (Photo by Ed Crisostomo, Contributing Photographer)

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addressed some 10,000 people from the steps of City Hall on Sunday, Sept. 22, in a rally marking his first visit to Los Angeles, the largest Armenian population center outside the Republic of Armenia.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (Photo: AP file)

Pashinyan was appointed to his post after leading a wave of anti-government protests between March and May of 2018 that led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan — and has been widely hailed as a harbinger of democracy by championing free elections and government transparency.

“We have created a new image for Armenia,” said Pashinyan after lauding the warm California welcome in Armenian, the diaspora crowd chanting his name.

“We have developed a new slogan: It’s cool to be Armenian,” he said. “And together we have to make it even better, because the Armenian people is one of a great history and past. And our country has a bright future.”

North Hollywood councilmember Paul Krekorian, who became the first Armenian elected to city office in 2010, played a leading role in organizing the rally. Burbank Rep. Adam Schiff also addressed the crowd, calling LA the “capitol of the Armenian diaspora.”

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti praised Pashinyan’s leadership, saying “A day of sunshine has come to Armenia, a day of openness, of democracy. The day has come to invest and support and help the new Armenia rise, and rise and rise under this prime minister.”

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Thousands are starting to pour into Grand Park from Glendale, Pasadena and the SFV for a visit today by Armenian Prime Minister @NikolPashinyan. It’s his first stop in LA, the largest Armenian population center outside Armenia, since getting elected last year

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The bulk of attendees, clapping and dancing along to traditional music and dance performances on the steps of City Hall, came in predominately from such Armenian community population centers as Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley. Buses to downtown LA were made available to the communities.

While estimations of the Armenian population in Greater LA vary, the 2000 census reported over 150,000 Armenians in LA County with some 40,000 living in the San Fernando Valley.

“We’re here to honor and welcome him, for having led the revolution and cleaning up corruption,” said Hrair Koutnouyan of Glendale, who came to see Pashinyan with his wife. “A government that’s without stealing and cheating isn’t something that’s easily accepted, but he’s proving it can be done.”

Sisters Ani and Areni Dergrigorian say they’re optimistic about Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s leadership but want to hold him to account. Their signs demand an end to environmentally harmful mining in the Almusar region of Armenia. Photo: Ariella Plachta, SCNG

Some, like 24-year-old Ani Dergrigorian of Glendale, who has lived in Armenia, is “optimistic” about Pashinyan’s leadership but hopes to hold him to account on issues facing every day Armenians. She and her sister, Areni, brought signs that demanded an end to environmentally harmful mining practices in the nation’s Almusar region.

“Maybe we don’t feel the impacts as much here, but it’s more important than ever for us to be engaged in politics in Armenia,” she said. “We’re all facing climate change on the same planet. At the end of the day it impacts us too.”

Monterey Park doctor Jack Der-Sarkissian said he was moved by the “optimism and enthusiasm” in Armenia following the Pashinyan-led protests, what he and his supporters call the “Velvet Revolution.” He’s listening for proof that the leader will be the steward of democracy he said he would.

“A lot of people in Los Angeles will financially invest in their families and Armenia needs it,” he said. “At the end of the day he needs to convince people like myself that it’s the right time to invest in Armenia. He has a lot of work ahead of him.”