by Ashot Safaryan
The National Assembly of Armenia has rejected the bill on establishment of an ad hoc committee to study the state debt accumulated since 2011 in the gas supply field and the gas tariff with 44 votes 'for' and 58 votes 'against'. The non-governmental factions in the parliament supported the bill, while the political coalition of the Republican Party and Orinats Yerkir Party has rejected it.
To recall, 4 parliamentary factions of Armenia: Armenian National Congress, Prosperous Armenia Party, ARFD and Heritage have come forward with an initiative to set up a parliamentary committee to discuss gas deal with Russia.
Earlier, the head of the ARF Dashnaktiutyun parliamentary faction, Armen Rustamyan, told reporters that the gas deal between Armenia and Russia contradicts two points of Armenia's Constitution. In particular, he said, the clause 31.1 of the Armenian Constitution ("The state protects interests of consumers and makes events within the frames of the law") as well as the clause 33 ("Limiting of competition and possible types of monopoly may be fixed only by the law"). He recalled that ARFD said about setting up of a temporary commission on discussion of the gas issue in 2010, when Russia started making contracts on gas price for the CIS countries taking into account the European price making principles.
He pointed at the fact that Ukraine and Belarus use their transit opportunities. As for Armenia, it cannot use its potential for the Iranian gas transit, and the temporary commission must touch on this problem as well.
As for the gas price, it also causes many questions. "It is no secret, that Gasprom owns the controlling stake of the national gas distributing companies only in Moldova and Armenia. As of 2010, in Moldova gas price at the border was $233, and the consumer got it for $288, that is to say, the margin amounted to $55. "In Armenia, it was $189 at the border and $393 for the consumer. The commission wants to study this issue too", - he said.
To recall, in 23 December 2013 the Armenian parliament has ratified a controversial natural-gas agreement with Moscow amid protests. The deal gives the Russian energy giant Gazprom, which already owns 80 percent of the ArmRosgazprom Armenian-Russian joint venture, the remaining 20 percent. Gazprom will also control all Armenian gas imports until 2043.