ArmInfo. It is impossible to ensure proportional development of territories in Armenia, if there are no stable, strong, future-oriented communities. And it is no coincidence that in 2017 the main emphasis was placed on structural changes in the system of local self- government bodies, According to the Minister of Territorial Administration and Development David Lokyan`s statement at a press conference in Yerevan on February 23.
According to him, last year the community development strategy was approved, programs for their development were approved with the application of new methods. More than 10 methodical guidebooks have been actively applied, which are provided to the communities, and which in various directions regulate the actions of local self-government bodies. In particular, it is about defining the community administration, how it should lead the community, providing appropriate services, how it should provide on-site economic development, and what is needed for this. In this connection, 104 responsible persons are identified who in the field make development programs, presenting them to the regional structures in the future, and from there to the government for the purpose of subsequent financing.
One of the problems of the communities, according to the minister, is the staff schedule of local government administrations. The absence of previously complex approaches to solving the problems of the communities led to the accumulation of a wage debt of 1 billion drams. With the application of new methods in 2017, this debt was reduced by 200 million drams, and there are all prerequisites for the final solution of the problem in 2018.
According to the new strategy, local authorities will no longer have the possibility of unlimited use of subsidies provided by the state budget. Annually 48 billion drams are directed to the state budget for subsidizing local self-government bodies. Now the main emphasis, Lokyan continued, will be made on the growth of own incomes, increase of motivation of employees of administrations of communities to achieve the set goal. In past years there have been cases when 85% of all subsidized funds went to pay wages. Now, such mechanisms have started to be applied that will provide the opportunity to provide services to community residents, and not just receive salaries. As a result, in 2017, an order was established according to which communities were able to have their own budget funds, the funds of which would be spent on capital expenditures and purchase of equipment in these communities. As of January 1, 2018, about 6 billion drams have been accumulated in such funds, which will be used exclusively for capital expenditures, which will lead to the growth of the country's economy as a whole and the formation of additional values.
The minister stressed that local self-government bodies should increase their own revenues, and expenditures should be used effectively. In 2017, the country's communities were able to replenish their budgets for a total of 4.059 billion AMD. Last year was unique in that, in comparison with previous years, it was finally possible to increase by 419 million AMD the volume of revenues from the application of the land tax. From 2009 to 2017, these indicators were constantly decreasing. And this means that communities have the necessary administrative resources to address this issue. Another 1.2 billion drams were raised from the property tax. If in general to talk about five types of taxes - land tax, property tax, state duty, local payments and rental income, in 2017 it was raised 2.6 billion drams more than a year earlier. Only for garbage collection 1.6 billion AMD were received, which is 400 million drams more than in 2016. Nevertheless, these 1.6 billion AMD make up only 40% of the required funds. In 2018 it is planned to bring this figure to 2.8 billion AMD. This indicator is planned to be achieved, including, due to 18.6 thousand contracts concluded with legal entities that carry out entrepreneurial activities in the communities of the republic. Previously, these business entities paid a ridiculous amount. For example, gas stations paid 300 drams every month against 200 AMD paid by a community resident. Now for legal entities, the amount of payments will be 12-13 thousand drams a month.
In parallel with increasing incomes, communities should learn how to provide services. For example, in the regions of the country there are about 500 kindergartens, but there are communities in which pre-school institutions did not work. Today, as a result of the application of new methods and the assistance of international structures, new pre-school institutions are opening. Only in the Tumanyan community four pre-school institutions were opened last year. It is envisaged to provide all children with pre-school education until 2022.