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Comparison of the sustainability of the public administration system of Armenia and Eastern Partnership associated states

In March 2019 SIGMA released an analysis, entitled “Baseline Measurement Report: Principles of Public Administration", which analyzed the six key areas of public administration in Armenia with a specific methodology, provided estimates on these areas. The assessments reflected in the report are particularly important in the context of the recent discussions in Armenia, according to which the present authorities have inherited a "failed state system"․ Earlier, SIGMA also prepared reports with similar content on other EU Eastern Partnership countries, in particular on Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova. A comparative analysis of reports on Armenia and these countries suggests that in many areas Armenia is at the same level or has advantages over these countries.

  


The tendencies and developments in the tradable sector of the economy of the RA

The export of goods and services is of paramount importance for every economy. This is why the majority of countries adopt an export-oriented economic policy. In 2019 the RA has experienced a slowdown in the growth rates of the export. Indeed, over January-July of 2019 the exports have increased by 3.0 percent compared with the same period of the previous year, while in 2018 the same indicator amounted to 17.6 percent. To revive foreign trade of the RA, it is necessary to ensure diversification of the structure and directions of the export industry. Full material is only available in Armenian.

  


Comments on the package of draft laws “On Amendments and Additions to the constitutional law “Judicial Code of the Republic of Armenia”, “On amendments and supplements to the constitutional law of the Republic of Armenia “On the Constitutional Court” and related draft laws submitted by the Ministry of Justice on August 9, 2019

On August 9, 2019, the RA Ministry of Justice submitted for public discussion draft laws “On amendments and supplements to the constitutional law “Judicial Code of the Republic of Armenia”, “On amendments and supplements to the constitutional law of the Republic of Armenia “On Constitutional Court” and related draft laws. The draft laws significantly expand the grounds for holding judges of the constitutional court and ordinary court judges accountable for disciplinary violations and termination of their powers, thereby weakening the external independence of the latter. The ministry provides for the introduction of an “early retirement scheme” according to which a resigned judge of the Constitutional court, regardless of the age, can retain his salary at the time of resignation until the end of his term. The ministry justifies the necessity of introducing the institute by the criticized experience of Poland and Hungary, which is presented by the ministry as international experience. Also, the proposed procedure for the election of members of the Commission for the prevention of corruption is extremely worrying. In particular, it is problematic to assign to the Commission functions that involve broad discretion, as well as interference in personal and family life. This analysis concerns a detailed study of the draft laws in the light of the RA Constitution and international experience. Full material is only available in Armenian.

  


Foreign financing of public organizations and foundations: legislative regulation of the Republic of Armenia and international experience

An analysis of international experience shows that foreign funding of public organizations is of particular concern to states. As a result, stricter requirements of transparency and accountability are established in individual countries, taking into account the need to prevent possible cases of money laundering and terrorism, as well as ensure the security of the state and society. The legislation of the Republic of Armenia does not provide special requirements for transparency and accountability of public organizations receiving foreign funding. The analysis presents the international experience of regulating foreign financing of public organizations and foundations, as well as the possibility of introducing special requirements of transparency and accountability in the Republic of Armenia. Full material is only available in Armenian.

  


Underperformance of capital expenditures of the RA state budget and its possible consequences

From the most of the analysis on this topic, it can be concluded that the non-execution of public capital expenditure leads to economic growth penalty. Therefore, the proper implementation of capital spending should be a positive outcome for the government of each country, and their underperformance is alarming. Given that capital expenditure impacts economic growth in different ways, in this analysis, we applied a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model (DSGE), which describes the whole economy quite well and allows to observe the impact of capital expenditure underperformance on all sectors of the economy. At the core of the analysis was the assumption that capital expenditure was reduced only one year, and in subsequent years, they were restored to a sustainable level. The results of the model used show that the highly conservative government behavior on capital spending is dangerous and in the long- run, it will fine the potential for economic growth. The impact of underperformance of capital expenditure on other macro variables is also assessed, such as private real investments, real wages, employment, real effective exchange rates,

  


The social-economic developments in the economy of the RA for January-July 2019

In the present analysis, given the data published by the Statistical Committee of the RA, we study the recent social-economic developments in the economy of the RA. In particular, we consider the cumulative indicator of economic activity of the given month, its sectoral distribution, as well as the dynamics of individual sectors of the economy. We also analyze economic developments in the foreign trade, labour market and fiscal system of the RA. In addition, some aspects of the financial system (inflation, deposits and loans), as well as the behaviour of the exchange rate, are touched upon. Full material is only available in Armenian.

  


The perspectives of energy cooperation between Armenia and Iran

The potential of the Armenian-Iranian energy cooperation is often overestimated by the media-expert circles of Armenia. This contributes to the formation of unnecessary and unrealistic public expectations, which can lead to disappointment and ultimately negatively affect the further development of bilateral relations. There has been a great deal of work done to deepen bilateral energy cooperation over the last decades, as a result, although slowly, some positive developments have occurred. The fact that the two neighboring countries have the potential for cooperation is beyond doubt, but objective and subjective obstacles to the full realization of this potential should also be taken into account. Deepening the Armenian-Iranian energy cooperation is a mutually beneficial process, which every Armenian government should properly promote and ensure continuity of implementation of the programs on the agenda. This is an area where political will alone is not enough and a great deal of diplomatic and negotiation work is required for success.

  


The Importance of Evangelists for Trump, Azerbaijan and Armenia

Much can be said about the American Heartland and the influence that it has held on the soul of the United States for an enduring period of time. It can be said that the conservative, Christian sector of the US has been a very important counterweight to the more liberal tendencies on the coasts of the country. It has played heavily into the “blue state, red state” divide and expectedly given the US a more conservative character than some of the other Western nations of the modern day. Evangelical Christian community constitutes an important and weighty part of this conservative Christian sector.  Evangelical Christianity is one of the Protestant confessions that gained its name from their pursuit of the implementation of the Scripture. Evangelical community makes up a significant portion of the US population. According to the 2014 survey of Pew research center the Evangelical percentage of the population is 25.4% (about 81 million people). The states with most evangelical population are Texas (6.5 million), California (3.5 million), Florida (3million) etc. Although the influence of the white evangelicals has been less visible, it has a significant impact on political decisions. More importantly though, this conservative heartland of the US has held crucial levers of influence in Washington DC.

  


The “One Belt - One Road” program and the uncertain role of Armenia in it

China’s “One Belt, One Road” Initiative claims to become the so-called “New Marshall’s Plan” for the entire Eurasian region. Armenia, which has certain objective difficulties in regional and international integration, should try to maximize the use of opportunities of the Chinese initiative. In this regard, it is important to clarify the essence of the “One Belt - One Road” project, present the level of involvement of different countries in the region, understand the possible consequences of the project for Armenia and realistic expectations from it.

  


The Index of Economic Freedom in the RA

The study of indicators and indices published by international organizations allows to address two important problems. First, to assess the performance of the RA in the given period with the help of comprehensive numerical measures, as well as to make intertemporal comparisons in order to understand whether the country moves in the desirable direction. Second, to compare the performance of the RA with other countries to ascertain Armenia’s relative position in the region and Eurasian Economic Union. These results are important, since they help to derive the comprehensive assessment of the economic situation, which is needed both for the public and the private sector. The present analysis is aimed at addressing the foregoing problems. Full material is only available in Armenian.

  


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