Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The picture of the day was taken in Jabrayel, which is one of our Southern liberated territories and is of a building that was built on a spring. A very beautiful place with writing in Turkish that reads “Friendship”.

Today I went to a funeral for a friend who was 70 years old and had cancer. It was kind of sad to loose such a good person, but he knew over a year ago that he had cancer and had accepted that he was to die.

In attendance were quite a few people, including the regional minister, chief of police and a number of high-ranking government officials who came to pay their respects to Souren.

After the funeral, we had a lunch and then I went off to Stepanagert to take care of some work there that of course I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to, but during my visit, which included looking into alternatives to getting raw granite at a more reasonable price, I learned something about the increase in the price of stone from 40,000 dram to 80,000 dram a cubic meter.

It seems that the stone operation that 60% of the business is owned by a Swiss-Armenian, is being mismanaged.

It seems that the entire operation requires a little more than 30 people, but they have on the payroll 100 people. Those 70 extra people that do virtually nothing are the being paid somewhere in the range of $300 a month.

The people who are working the stone mine are being paid by the cubic meter in the range of 4,500 dram and the equipment being used there for the most part is rented.

The real cost of stone with taxes should not cost more than 10,000 dram per cubic meter and the reason for the high price of stone today seems to be so that 70 deadbeat persons can have a $300 a month income that the people who have to purchase stone and the Swiss-Armenian are paying for in a very bad way.

I was advised today that I should definitely look into picking up a few hectors of land to mine stone since I virtually have all the needed equipment and have enough pull that no one would stand in my way to do it. I could also become the one to break the monopoly and bring the price of stone down to a reasonable level so that people who have stone processing plants can continue to work. I’ll have to think about it and have until the end of winter to decide if I do it or not.

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