part of its technical assistance and training
to Armenian municipal officials, the United States
Agency for International Development sponsored
a trip of Armenian finance specialists to Hungary
The delegation comprised of eight finance directors
form different cities of Armenia, representatives
from the Ministry of Finance and US based Urban
Institute visited four cities in Hungary, where
they met with their Hungarian colleagues in finance
and economic development.
The four hosting cities in Hungary were specifically
chosen to match with the size and population of
Armenian cities. Other than Budapest, the delegation
visited Zsolnok, Hatvan and Nyiregyhaza.
Social and political restructuring started in
early 1990s brought about significant improvements
in the economic state of Hungary.
In 1990 Constitutional revisions of the article
on government determined the role and responsibilities
of the local governments of Hungary and identified
its commitment toward decentralized governing.
"The purpose of the trip was experience
exchange, as well as learning about local governmental
finance practices of more advanced Hungarian local
government" says Artur Drampyan, Resident
Advisor at the Urban Institute, who accompanied
the group to Hungary.
Within a short period of structural reforms Hungarian
local governments were granted with significant
powers and decision making rights.
According to the Hungarian legislature cities
can choose what taxes to impose locally. Most
cities choose tax on business activity, since
it brings more income to the local budget than
any other sources of funding.
Unlike Armenian cities, Hungarian cities may
have bank accounts, construct and sell multi apartment
buildings, make administrative decisions, such
as prohibition of alcohol use in public. Also
the municipalities can decide to wave the tax
on businesses in order to attract them into their
"It was an interesting visit, however Hungarian
legislature is far too advanced in providing the
cities with autonomy and independent decision
making powers," says Vahan Movsissyan, head
of the Local Finance Officers Association of Armenia.
"Armenia is far behind in this respect."
"The roles and rights of local government
in Armenia are extremely limited, so we can hardly
implement the small part of the work that Hungarian
colleagues do" says Artur Sukiasian, Finance
Department Head at Vanadzor Municipality.
It was a nice surprise for the Armenian delegation
to know that according to Hungarian legislature
the national minorities residing in Hungary can
form their own local government. Together with
Slavonic, Czeck, Poland and German local governments
the Armenian community formed its local government
At the meeting with the delegation from Armenia,
Armen Malhazian, the head of the Armenian local
government of Nyiregyhaza, talked about the Armenian
community comprised of 50 families. Malhazian,
who lived in Hungary for the last 20 years, talked
about the cultural events organized within the
Armenian community. He described the role of the
national community in preserving the cultural
inheritance and traditions of the Armenian community.