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Whom Armenia's Natural Resources Belong To

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  • Whom Armenia's Natural Resources Belong To

    Naira Hayrumyan

    Story from News:
    12:26 26/03/2013

    Addressing the latest rally of the opposition in Freedom Square, member
    of Karabakh committee Ashot Manucharyan made an interesting proposal:
    to transfer the income from the exploitation of mineral resources to
    the national budget in order to fund free education and health care.

    This sounds as the most reasonable solution. If we are the owners of
    the natural resources, we should receive income. But the resources,
    though are said to be national wealth, are exploited by private
    companies, mainly foreign. While, citizens receive crumbs in the form
    of royalties and environmental contributions.

    There was information that ex-prime minister and ex-ambassador of
    Armenia to Great Britain Armen Sargsyan has been appointed Director
    of the British Lydian International Company, which is considered the
    founder of the Armenian company Geoteam which exploits the gold mines
    of Amulsar.

    It is noteworthy that deputy minister of foreign affairs of Great
    Britain Simon Fraser, who has recently been to Yerevan, is lobbying
    the interests of this company. He said he positively appreciates the
    expected volume of the Lydian International investment in the mining
    sector of Armenia in the amount of 400 million.

    Deputy Foreign Minister also said that the United Kingdom government is
    ready to assist British companies wishing to invest in Armenia, adding
    that there are good investment possibilities particularly in the areas
    of financial services, information technology, mining and agriculture.

    According to press reports, the subsoil of Armenia is estimated at
    170 billion USD, the annual export of mining products is about 600
    million. The budget gets only a small part of this sum, although
    the largest taxpayer of the country is exactly the mining company
    Zangezur combine.

    It is enough to pass a law under which the state will receive a certain
    percentage of the shares from the exploitation of mineral resources,
    and a considerable portion of the proceeds from the benefit will
    flow to the national budget. This will not only boost the coffers at
    the expense of our own good, but will also bring to light the mining
    business, which is now in deep shadow.

    The government has not even exercised an open inventory of mineral
    resources, so no one could calculate the true income. Only "their"
    people are involved in the exploitation of mineral resources and a few
    foreign companies, whose interests are lobbied internationally. The
    true income and profits of these companies is unknown to the public.

    Many countries were able to brilliantly solve social problems due
    to the fact that they gave shares from the exploitation of mineral
    resources to the state. For example, in some Arab countries the
    shareholders of oil companies are all the citizens. In Armenia,
    ordinary citizens don't receive a penny from their natural resources.

    Now a lot of development of mineral resources is carried out in
    Karabakh, and in many regions of Armenia. Citizens raised mainly
    environmental issues in this regard. But it is equally important to
    insist on the fact that citizens are the owners of mineral resources,
    so they must not only obtain significant share of profits, but also
    know how much is produced, how much is sold and in whose pockets the
    income flows.