The Society and The Poverty

Noyan Tapan Highlights #30 (532)
02 August 2004


By Haroutiun Khachatrian

Last Friday, the ministry of economy and finance hosted a group of people
who are not typical in that building. The group included the representatives
of trade unions (which is not so unexpected), of business NGOs (who also do
sometimes meet with the minister).

But it also included representatives of environmental protection NGOs, Human
rights protection NGOs and even the Armenian Apostolic Church (Abbot Mushegh
Babayan as a representative of Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians). All
these people were there to sign a specific document, the memorandum on
“performing partnership negotiations on implementation of the Poverty
Reduction Strategic Program”.

The government has adopted the PRSP as early as in August 2003. This
document has two important features. First, it is subject to continuing
changes and improvements. Second, it is to be implemented through
participation of the whole society (at least, in principle), and in
particular, as the government declares, the document is open to signals from
the society aimed at improvement of this program which will be the
guidelines of the countries economy development for at least a decade. The
negotiations to be performed under the memorandum signed will pursue these
two goals.

The PRSP is funded by the foreign donors (led by IMF) and the participation
of the civil society in its implementation (and elaboration) was one of
their preconditions. This is a good thing, of course, and the government
looks like it is happy to share the burden of the PRSP implementation with
the NGOs and the Church. However, the formal initiative still needs to be
made into real deals and there is a real concern that this may not happen.
Just like in judiciary, where there are a lot of good laws which are not
implemented in the real life. Hence it remains to see if the participation
of the civil society in PRSP implementation will go beyond declarations.