Armenians’ future looks bleak
By Jamila Babayeva
The Armenian government has confirmed that the minimum wage in the country is at the poverty level.
"The government plans to increase the minimum wage, which is at the poverty level, to 125 percent of the poverty ratio," Armenian Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Artem Asatryan said at a parliamentary session on March 26.
The minimum wage is 50,000 drams ($121) in the country, while the minimum consumer basket was set at 56,200 drams ($135) per month at the end of 2013.
While the government is making plans, the situation has became so complicated that the population is forced even to buy bread on credit.
Some 22 families of the Okhtar village in the Syunik province have struck up an agreement with some bakers to get daily bread and pay for it at the end of each month. An older resident of the village said families are seriously suffering from social problems.
"The village school, where the schoolchildren of five villages study, will be closed down soon due to a decrease in the number of students. The total number of schoolchildren is 25-27 now," he said. "There are no young people and families in the village. The last child was born in the village 10 years ago."
The Armenians' dire needs have caused some citizens to take even extreme measures. A middle-aged man who was holding a knife entered the territory of the Parliament and threatened to kill himself if he could not meet the president on March 26. He said he wanted to draw the attention of officials to his family's poverty.
"I have applied a thousand times and demanded money for bread, but no one has responded to my letters," he said.
The Armenian media noted that this incident is not the first such happening at the Parliament's territory.
The parliament has found out how to protect itself against dissatisfied citizens. Some 150 surveillance cameras will be installed at the parliamentary building soon. The cameras will even be installed on the trees at the Parliament's garden.
The forecasts are still not optimistic for Armenia. The price of imported gas from Russia will probably face an increase from June 1, as the price will up four percent in Russia.
The Armenian government increased gas and electricity prices for consumers in July 2013, a decision that led to the closure of several small and medium enterprises.
Due to the increased tariffs, several greenhouses and bread production facilities and 30 percent of fish farmers have stopped working.
So, the second wave of price increase in Armenia will inevitably have a negative impact on the economy which is in deadlock situation even now.