Following the declaration of a state of
emergency due to novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in Armenia, the
companies and employees operating in Armenia have encountered financial difficulties.
To address the impact of those difficulties, the Government adopted the
anti-crisis economic Action 8.
The action was adopted on March 30,
2020, the beneficiaries of which were individuals that from March 13 to March 30
were employed in the spheres listed by the Government’s decision defining
Action 8 or were private entrepreneurs, and complied with other requirements.
The Human Rights Defender initiated
monitoring, including monitoring of the media publications, with regard to
Action 8. In addition, the Defender conducted a discussion of the addressed
oral and written complaints. The Human Rights Defender has received 77
complaints (including 28 calls to the 116 hotline number) with regard to Action
8 that addresses the economic impact of COVID-19 in Armenia.
1. The issues identified by the examination
of complaints addressed to the Human Rights Defender with regard to Action 8
primarily relate to:
the limited number of fields prescribed
by the Government decision,
missing the deadline prescribed for
changing the classifier due to improper awareness-raising on the types of
economic activities reflected in tax calculations.
Initially, the Government considered the business enterprises carrying
out certain types of economic activities as beneficiaries of the Action despite
the fact that other business enterprises were also included in the types of
economic activities prohibited under the RA Commandant’s decisions and had also
encountered financial difficulties
In particular, cultural schools engaged
in the aesthetic education of children applied to the Human Rights Defender. For
example, one of the headmasters informed that the activities of the cultural
school were suspended due to the limitations connected with the coronavirus. According
to the complaint that the salary of the schools’ employees is generated solely
from the tuition fee of the students, and the school found itself in a difficult
financial situation due to the limitations: the school was not able to pay the
salaries of the employees and needed assistance.
In an official letter addressed to the
RA Commandant, the Human Rights Defender raised the issue of including the
organizations of the mentioned field within the list of target areas. Based on
the Defender’s recommendation, the organizations carrying out educational activities
in the fields of culture, music, sports, and dance were included in the list of
the Government decision defining Action 8.
Complaints on the failure to benefit from Action 8 by business
enterprises and employees due to missing the deadline were also addressed to
the Human Rights Defender.
Action 8 stipulates the types of
activities (employees, private entrepreneurs of the field) that may benefit
from the financial assistance in the amount prescribed by the Action. However, though
the organizations operating in the fields prescribed by the Action were in fact
carrying out the stipulated activities, they were unable to benefit from the
Action as they had reflected another type of economic activity classifier (that
differed from their actual activities) in their tax calculations.
For example, in one case, a complaint
was addressed to the Human Rights Defender, providing that the business
enterprise had corrected the economic activity classifier after the fixed
deadline, and failed to benefit from the Action.
The Office of the Human Rights Defender
carried out a systemic analysis of this issue. It was revealed that the
Government Decision of April 30, 2020 introduced an amendment setting the
period from April 30 to May 5, 2020 for correcting the economic activity
The applicants expressed their concerns
that they had only 5 days (from April 30 to May 5) for changing the economic
activity classifier. Moreover, the complainants provided that during that short
period of time, the state failed to carry out proper awareness-raising on the
time periods for correcting the economic activity classifier and on the change
of the deadline. As a result, a number of businesses were deprived of the
opportunity to benefit from Action 8.
For example, in a written complaint,
the applicant (private entrepreneur) informed the Human Rights Defender that he,
in fact, provided tourism services, but he had reflected an economic activity
not coinciding with his actual activities in his tax calculations. While not
being informed about the deadline for correcting the classifier, the individual
entrepreneur applied to the State Revenue Committee for correcting the economic
activity classifier after the deadline and failed to benefit from the Action as
a result. The applicant provided that he missed the deadline due to improper
awareness-raising and the short time period.
In another case, an entrepreneur applied
to the RA Human Rights Defender and informed that he owned a restaurant and
carried out economic activities in the field of public catering. However, he
mentioned “other services” as an activity classifier in his tax calculations.
He also failed to benefit from the Action as he was not informed about the
short time period for correcting the classifier and applied to the competent
body after the deadline.
The Human Rights Defender presented recommendations
to the Government on setting a longer deadline to address the issues described
and carrying out proper awareness-raising in that regard.
4.The results of both the monitoring
and the discussion of the complaints were regularly summarized and, based on
the nature of the issue or recommendation, were presented to the Government or Commandants
office with relevant recommendations. Based on the Defender's recommendations,
the necessary amendments were made, which made it possible to eliminate the
The Human Rights Defender welcomes the
periodic extension of the list of target areas. It is noteworthy that 5
target-areas were envisaged in the Action’s initial period, but the list of the
areas was extended to currently include 32 areas.
However, the Defender finds it
necessary to underline, that while setting steps to be taken for benefiting
from the Action, the state should consider that the anti-crisis economic and
social programs addressing the impact of COVID-19 are new for the public:
hence, the state should carry out proper awareness-raising with regard to their
terms and conditions.
words, the current circumstances and the realities of the State of Emergency extend
the scope of the positive obligations and the legal burden of the state with
regard to private organizations or persons.