YEREVAN, February 21. / ARKA /. Out of 662 high-ranking Armenian officials only 21 have failed to comply with a law that requires them to submit tax declarations in due time, Ashot Melikyan, head of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Speech, told a news conference today when presenting the findings of a study conducted as part of the Open Government Partnership program.
Under Armenian law on public service, adopted in 2011, senior officials have to submit their tax declarations for the past year until February 15 of the current year. For comparison, as of July 2013 some 338 high-level officials failed to submit their tax declarations for 2012, he said.
Ashot Melikyan questioned also the reliability of information provided in tax declarations. "Some of these people, judging by the publications in the media are quite wealthy, however, judging by their declarations they have very modest income,” he said.
Olga Safarian, the lawyer of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Speech, said many government agencies are reluctant to provide required information. According to her, almost one third of their requests to government agencies were ignored.
The Open Government Partnership is a global, multi-stakeholder effort to make governments better. It aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to drive open government reform and innovation at the country level, in an effort to stretch countries beyond their current baseline in the areas of transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement.
It was formally launched on September 20, 2011, when the 8 founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States) endorsed the Open Government Declaration, and announced their country action plans. Since then the partnership has grown to 63 participating countries. Armenia joined it in 2011. -0-