The Armenian parliament has passed today in the third and final reading a bill on social assistance to border communities.
Vache Terteryan, the acting minister for local government, said under the bill residents of communities located close to the Azerbaijani border will receive utility subsidies starting from next year to pay half of their electricity, natural gas and irrigation water bills. Besides, residents will be provided with free housing in case their homes are destroyed or seriously damaged by Azerbaijani gunfire.
Residents, who use alternative sources of energy (wood and coal) to heat their homes, will also get utility subsidies. The amount of subsidies and the list of communities eligible to government assistance will be determined by the Cabinet on annual basis.
The bill also says that residents of these communities injured as a result of mine explosions, military actions of the Azerbaijani armed forces will be eligible to free medical services. Also families of killed servicemen will get one-time assistance for funeral and other related expenses.
Terteryan said the law will come into force in 2015 January and will be effective until at least January 1, 2018 after which it will be either revised or extended. He said that preliminary estimates show that the application of the law will require additionally one billion drams.