Armenian Government Officials told to Work Longer Hours
YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenian government agencies must work in “emergency” mode to live up to voters’ expectations after the ruling Republican Party’s victory in the April 2 parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Karen Karapetian said on Thursday.
“Our team received a mandate to effect changes in our country,” Karapetian said at the first cabinet meeting held after the vote. “I am telling all of my teammates that we are declaring a state of emergency in terms of our work regime, efforts, responsibility and all actions.”
“Emergency mode means that we should now work not for 8 hours but 10-12 hours a day, including Saturdays,” Finance Minister Vartan Aramian explained to reporters after the session.
“We have to work to ensure that people feel the difference,” Transport and Communications Minister Vahan Martirosian said for his part.
Karapetian personally conducted the ruling HHK party’s election campaign, pledging to implement “serious reforms” and attract large-scale investments in the Armenian economy. He said on Tuesday that his government will do its best to build “a new Armenia.”
President Serzh Sarkisian, who is the HHK’s chairman, also promised major reforms when he took office in April 2008. “We are again announcing a new beginning for changes,” he declared at the time.
Karapetian described the economic situation in Armenia as “very grave” just days after he was appointed as prime minister in September. He said the country is in urgent need of “systemic changes.”
His cabinet subsequently pledged to combat corruption and improve the investment climate. Opposition leaders dismissed that as a publicity stunt aimed at facilitating the HHK’s victory in the upcoming elections.
Vahagn Khachatrian, a senior member of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), said on Thursday that the reshuffled government has so far failed to deliver on its promises. It particular, Khachatrian said, it has not broken up de facto economic monopolies. “They avoid talking of monopolies, using instead the phrase ‘companies having dominant positions,’” he said.
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