Public Private Dialogue – Action Plan:

Recommendations for the Improvement of PPD in Armenia

The Business community of Armenia wants to highlight the importance of the ongoing transformative process in Armenia into full-fledged market economies, which entails / generates both challenges and opportunities. The Business Community wants to work together with the public sector to improve conditions for growth and a more favourable business climate.

This transformation process and the implementation of necessary reforms can best be done by involving the private sector in the policy making process. We, the Business support and private sector organisations call upon the political decision makers to consider us as partners for the design and implementation of reform processes, strategies for economic development and regional cooperation.

National Business Platforms of Armenia:

- SME Development National Center is really good promoted and is very active since its establishment in 2002 by the Prime Minister.

- Chamber of Commerce and industry – mainly funded by the state budget.

- Development Foundation of Armenia was established in 2015, Alongside its main mission of promoting the country’s economic growth, the Foundation carries out it activities with the aim of enhancing Armenia’s international ranking, recognition and competitiveness.

Simultaneously, DFA directs its efforts towards attracting foreign investment by providing a “one stop shop” service and providing post-investment services, whilst also promoting export, improving the business environment, implementing regional development projects and developing tourism sphere. DFA also implements projects that lend to cooperation between public authorities and entrepreneurs and other joint projects.

- E-government exists for several years but only up to 50% of Companies in Armenia use it.

- AntiCorruption Coalition was established in November, 2014. The objectives of the Anti-Corruption Coalition of the civil society organizations are:

· To increase effective CSO oversight of the government’s anti-corruption reforms strategy

· To assist to strengthening and development of anti-corruption institutional mechanisms

· To promote the anti-corruption perception and awareness among the public and to support to the rights protection of the corruption victims,

· To strengthen the anti-corruption monitoring and public surveillance abilities of CSOs and their capacity to carry out anti-corruption activities.

- BSO/BMOs poorly involved in Advocacy/Lobby.

- The concept of Business Ombudsman institution is to be introduced at the end of September, 2017

Current challenges:

- For the time being, PPD in Armenia is not well structured, neither has a well formed implementation process.

- The dialogues are mainly happening with the help of the people, who know each other in person (are friends, friends of friends, relatives, etc.).

- Private Sector’s recommendations and initiatives are rarely taken into consideration by the state authorities.

- The dialogues on legislative issues are usually held, if ever, after it presentation submission to the National Assembly, rather than in the process of drafting.

- Less involvement on province level.

Currently, PPD platforms are operating in the form of councils adjunct to various structures that are not properly fulfilling the functions reserved to them. Besides, businesses usually do not trust such platforms as structures that are to support them in tackling their problems. It is necessary to increase the trust in such platforms by presenting them as non-political structures protecting business interests.

Actions to be taken to Improve PPD:

• Creation/further development of strong Business Associations (Business Membership Organisations)

• Create/Further develop/Support Sectoral association

• Create/Further develop Support Regional associations

• Enhance cooperation between Think Tanks, Academia and Business Association and the creation of valuable knowledge within the Business Associations

• Create a positive image of entrepreneurship, SME and SME Associations

• Support Business Association according to Quality Criteria, Potential and Sustainability

• Create an open discussion/dialogue climate towards Business Associations (SME Associations)

• Establish regular dialogue/consultation channels

• Establish dialogue/consultations channels on all levels of the public sector (village level, province level, national level, ministries, President)

• Implement confidence building measures and activities to enable open dialogue

• Set rules for a quality PPD between Business Associations and the Public sector

• Set rules for quality reforms, their implementation and the monitoring process

• Create a system of Monitoring and Evaluation of these recommended processes, an indexation for benchmarking and a system of public control of technical support programs (funding).

• Guarantee the revision of existing state regulations of economic activities based on the principals of effectiveness, limited intervention and focus on economic growth (smart regulation.

• Involve Business Organisations in the Monitoring and Evaluation Process

• Donors and International Financial Institutions should bind financing to the quality of the decision making process (PPD) for projects

• Improve capacity of private sector to be engaged in the PPD process.

• Improve capacity of public sector to plan and facilitate effective PPD process.

• Draft legislation, which would obligate public institutions to conduct PPD in the process of developing economic reforms.

• Consider PPD Success Stories (e.g. in IT sector) in implementing PPD in other fields.

• Create monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for the PPD in major economic reforms.

PPD needs to address some challenges faced by the businesses in Armenia, particularly, effective protection of interests in the relations with state/public structures, problems connected with customs formulations for imports, financial resources that are not easily accessible, high interest rates of loans, problems of foreign market accessibility (especially the EU market).

The role of PPD is crucial in raising awareness of the private sector about legislative changes to avoid violations contingent on being non-informed.

Introducing the business ombudsman institution would be crucial for effective and proper response to the problems raised by the business community, as well as ensuring continuous protection of the interests thereof through settlement of the problems of businesses working with the government and providing appropriate consultations.