YEREVAN, September 11. /ARKA/. In response to a question from Mikael Melkumyan, a lawmaker from the Prosperous Armenia party about the future of a free economic zone in Meghri, a small town on the country’s border with Iran, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he had visited the town last year and learned that it has no land plots.
He said the Meghri zone has attracted few Armenian, Iranian and other firms so far because former government officials and their cronies had privatized land plots in and around the zone at disproportionately low prices obstructing economic activity there. He said the government has asked courts to declare those privatization deals illegal.
Pashinyan said also the government has a large project designed to modernize the Meghri border checkpoint, expected to be accomplished in 2023. But before that, the government will return the illegally privatized land plots, he added.
The Meghri free economic zone was launched in 2017 and was supposed to attract more foreign investment in Armenia’s economy and expand commercial ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Businesses operating in the zone are exempted from virtually all types of taxes. The previous government said it would attract as many as 70 companies and create 2,000 new jobs.