Fueling Fear: Armenians fear ripple effect of increased gas tariffs

Fueling Fear: Armenians fear ripple effect of increased gas tariffs

NEWS | 22.05.13 | 15:53

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By GAYANE MKRTCHYAN
ArmeniaNow reporter

The expected hike in the natural gas tariff continues to be a painful
topic among political and social strata, deeply concerned not only by
the prospect of chain-effect inflation to follow, but also a new wave
of emigration. Many believe that by raising the gas price Russia is
punishing Armenia for not joining the Customs Union.

Democratic party leader Aram Sargsyan believes if Armenia wanted cheap
gas, it should have entered the Customs Union, because now Russia’s
message is – you prefer the European Union, then let them provide you
with everything you need.

Republican MP Vardan Ayvazyan counters that Armenia does not approach
it as Customs Union versus European Union, but cooperates with both.

`The Association Agreement with the European Union cannot be viewed as
an obstacle to the development of Armenian-Russian relations, and no
pressure is possible either from European structures or Moscow,’ he
claims.

Armenian Revolutionary Party MP Artsvik Minasyan warns that raising
the gas tariff would mean Armenia with no Armenians left. He condemns
the authorities talking about energy independence, yet not taking any
steps to establish that independence.

Minasyan believes that among CIS countries Armenia’s use of gas is
only 2 percent, which suggests that GazProm’s decision to raise the
tariff is the consequence of improper actions. He recommends starting
to think about Iranian gas and alternative sources of energy.

The Republican Union of Employers shares the opinion that Iranian gas
could be an alternative. President of the Union Gagik Makaryan says
Iranian gas is cheaper and raises a question: in that case why isn’t
it used? He assures that Yerevan Thermoelectric plant is quite
satisfied with Iranian gas, while, he says, the 30 percent promised
state subsidy is not a solution, because the state budget cannot
afford it.

`It is not right to take businesses by such surprise. It leads to
growing discontent among people; today small and medium businesses are
on a very low profit level and are moving to a deadlock. If Russia is
keeping us under pressure, our leadership has to take proper
measures,’ he says. `We keep hearing that our country is in
negotiations with Russia, but nobody ever says what was decided as a
result of those negotiations. If Russia has set almost the highest
price, where have we slipped?’

The gas tariff raise means a heavy blow against greenhouse entities.
Head of the Association of Greenhouses Poghos Gevorgyan says people in
that sphere feel at a loss whether to keep working the greenhouses, or
suspend their businesses.

`ArmRusGasProm company also sets a coefficient depending on weather
conditions, but in the warm season that coefficient does not decrease
and consumers have to pay for gas by the winter tariff, which is
higher. Besides, there are fines for delayed payments, and it becomes
a big issue for farmers,’ he says.

From: Baghdasarian

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