On December 26, the Government of Armenia made a decision of allowing the media to use the premises currently occupied by them free of charge. These are, in particular, the House of Press and the building at 28, Isahakian street, where the majority of the editorial offices of print media and news agencies are concentrated and which currently belong to the RA Ministry of State Property.
Thus, the agreements for the office use will now be signed not annually, as they used to be, but for five years’ time. The 300 drams (about 50 US cents) per square meter of maintenance fee, charged previously from the editions, is currently reduced to 250 drams.
Such “generosity” of the Government is most probably caused by the extremely negative response of the media to the intention of the Ministry of State Property to triple the fees from 2002 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter,December 1-7, 2001). In mid-December the press had another “small victory”, retaining its only privilege – the exemption from VAT on the newspaper and magazine sales (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, December 8-14, 2001). At the same time it is still unclear what will happen to the editions after the buildings where they are located are privatized. The course of the privatization of Press Dissemination Agency “Haymamoul”, the project of which is currently under development by the same Ministry of State Property, is equally uncertain.