Why I'm Going to Work Late Today

Yesterday afternoon I received an e-mail from the guy I work for announcing that the office would not open until 3:30 pm, but all employees were encouraged to call in to verify just before that time. Seems that maintenance work has to be done somewhere on Armenia's electricity grid. It wasn't clear to me what specific areas of Yerevan would be hit by the power outage because I didn't watch the local news and rarely do, and nothing about it, of course, was online.

Rather than doing these repairs in the evening so that business for likely countless thousands of Armenians in Yerevan and other areas would not be impaired, they've decided to do the work in the middle of the day. That means shopkeepers and other businesses that depend on computer networks to operate will lose profits from transactions they could have made during a 6.5 hour period.

The employees of my workplace are expected to make up the time somehow, perhaps staying an hour later each day for a week or longer, but that's no big deal. What's odd is that the Armenian government is allowing this prolonged power outage to take place at all, knowing full well that the livelihood of many people will be impacted to some degree. Yet power outages are not rare in Yerevan; sometimes the lights unexpectedly go out for an hour, possibly longer at some point during the day.

I don't know if there's any other country on earth claiming economic growth, during a period where much of the world is still struggling with the global recession of last year, that would allow something like this to happen. Armenia's National Statistics Service is claiming that the country experienced 8.8 percent growth in the first five months of 2010, while inflation went up 7.6 percent--that's a lot. Exactly how that growth is being manifested is naturally not clear given Armenia's history of surviving under the cloak of a "shadow economy."Meantime the tax authorities keep hassling small and medium-sized business, sometimes shutting them down for days until discrepancies are resolved. Oligarchic structures are left alone. And there's no numbers yet (I think) to indicate how much cash has entered the country in remittances during that period.

So the question remains: How can such growth exist if there are obstacles blocking legitimate business from being conducted?


Anonymous said…
I guess you can update on why you're not going to work at all today.

Even though the power company notified us that the outage would take place between 10:30 and 14:30 (which we carefully announced and planned with all employees) they actually started the outage at 14:30 and it is now 19:00, still no power.

What always defies logic for me is that the power company is losing money too. Their income will be hit hard by this outage yet those running it seem not to care at all. It should be their natural tendency to minimize downtime and maximize service in order to increase profit.

--The guy you work for.
I found your blog fascinating. I looked at every single fountain pic. Loved it. I know nothing of Armenia - I'll be back to learn more!!
In the meantime.....
My brother and I are competing to collect all the world flags on our flag counters. Can you visit my blog so that I can have your flag on my list?
Thank you.

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