The controversial bill, that would ban the issuance of new mining licenses for two years, is co-sponsored by Im Kayl (My Step) MPs Meri Galstyan and Varazdat Karapetyan, and National Assembly Vice-Speaker Lena Nazaryan. The Armenian National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Economic Affairs voted down this bill.
The cosponsors argue that such a ban is necessary given the existing legislative loopholes and the lack of a comprehensive state policy on mineral extraction.
Deputy Minister for Territorial Administration and Infrastructures Lilia Shushanyan stated that the government opposes the bill and that the Ministry of Justice has described the proposed ban as a violation of the constitution.
“An entire business is impeded, for which laws such as the right of entrepreneurship, the right to economic activity are adopted. There should be restrictions that require clarity for such a ban,” Shushanyan said.
Those opposing the bill stressed that such a measure could only do harm in the long run given the economic situation in Armenia today.
Standing Committee on Economic Affairs Chair Babken Tunyan opposed the bill, arguing that it is discriminatory and bad for the mining sector.
“It’s not as if companies are lining up to do business in Armenia. No mining permits have been issued since 2016. It’s discriminatory to boot. Why don’t we include cement producers? Who says that mining companies pose more of a risk? It’s a crude measure that conveys a negative message, especially at this time,” Tunyan said.