‘The policy of reconciliation should be substituted with the policy of overcoming’: PM reviews progress in MLSA programs

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MLSA) to get acquainted with the Ministry’s ongoing and upcoming activities. Chief of Staff of the Office of the Prime Minister Arsen Torosyan, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Mesrop Arakelyan, First Deputy Minister Tatevik Stepanyan, Deputy Ministers Anna Zhamakochyan, David Khachatryan, Ruben Sargsyan, Head of Social Security Service Ani Amirshadyan, Secretary General Samvel Muradyan and other dignitaries attended the discussion.

Addressing the meeting, Prime Minister Pashinyan said, “We have stated that the public administration system needs a restart, and we will try to implement that restart in practice with discussions like this. This means that we have to review the concept that we are implementing in Armenia and answer a very simple question: How much viable are the programs and the concept that we had developed before the war and in general, what changes should be operated in individual sectors?

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Conceptually, I do believe that the social policy we have adopted in the country does not need to be reconsidered, because at the conceptual level, we have been trying to substitute the policy of reconciliation with the policy of overcoming since 2018? In other words, there used to be a tendency in social policy to help people come to terms with a specific social situation – disability, poverty, competition in the labor market. But our conceptual idea is that we need to help people overcome that situation. Therefore, as we discuss the issue of assisting those who became disabled as a result of the war, we should state first of all that in addition to organizing the necessary disability procedure, prosthetics, etc., we will equally or even more importantly have to train them and give them the required professional skills in the post-war period. Because if we just give a disability status, offer some social support to people, perform prosthetics, if necessary, we will only support them to come to terms with their current status, but we need to help them overcome the handicap. We have had developed such programs in the past in terms of overcoming poverty and increasing people’s competitiveness in the labor market. I think this concept is just as relevant now, if not more so. What matters now is to determine which way we should go to achieve these conceptual goals in practice.

Today we will discuss the Ministry’s current tasks. First of all, we should understand how we can defy the challenges that emerged in the post-war period; what new challenges have arisen and what we should do to improve the quality of our work. Sometimes very simple things happen under the logic of inertia. We discussed this topic with the Minister. For instance, we have seen notices that those expecting a degree of disability or people in that situation should turn to a specific entity, while considering the peculiarities of the situation, the social workers themselves could go and get acquainted with the needs on the spot, which would be more effective and a more dignified approach for the citizen. I mean there are nuances that sometimes go unnoticed, but which are crucial in terms of the quality of social services. Today we will also discuss the logic of what we can do to ensure that the services provided in the field of social security and support are maximally dignified, maximally qualified, maximally effective.”

The Prime Minister next gave the floor to RA Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Mesrop Arakelyan who reported back the activities implemented by his agency. He stressed that the hostilities had somewhat changed the priorities in the social sphere, due to which targeted assistance programs were to be implemented in the first place.

The Minister referred to the proposed measures of assistance for the Armenians of Artsakh in order to mitigate the consequences of the war. More than 15 billion dram-worth financial assistance has been provided to Artsakh under the programs implemented by the Government of Armenia. 5 programs to a total cost of more than 3 billion drams have already been completed. The programs seek to provide conditions necessary for resuming normal life in Artsakh. The Minister noted that the repatriation dynamics and the return to normality in Artsakh speak about the positive course of events.

The Premier asked him about the existing problems. The Minister said there are some problems associated with the process of updating databases and identifying the scope of beneficiaries. Work in that direction is continuous.

Prime Minister Pashinyan was briefed on the measures taken for those injured in the war. Minister Arakelyan advised that the procedure for providing assistance to the wounded and the process of providing disability groups to soldiers has been simplified. A special prosthetic procedure shall be introduced in the near future along with the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and social integration measures. The steps to be taken in this direction were discussed during the meeting.

Nikol Pashinyan noted that the state will cover the costs of prosthetics in cooperation with the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, and the process will be supervised by the competent authorities.

The Minister of Labor and Social Affairs next referred to the reforms implemented in individual sectors. He presented the ongoing work on the development of information systems in the fields of disability, family, childcare and employment. Specific proposals for legislative changes are being developed, which will increase the targeting and effectiveness of social policy in these areas. The Minister reported on the process of reforming the system of integrated social services, which seeks to improve the functionality and the staff structure. It will help provide social services to citizens under the one-stop-shop principle. More than 4 dozen such offices shall be set up nationwide.


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