By Atom Markarian
The Armenian government moved to facilitate on Thursday the privatization of some 1,200 remaining state-owned small enterprises which have so far failed to attract buyers. The cabinet, hoping to make the mostly idle businesses more attractive, decided to cut their minimum price by half and simplify their sell-off procedures.
The measure was proposed by the ministry for state revenues, the agency overseeing the decade-long privatization process in Armenia. According to Minister for State Property David Vartanian, private investors will now be able to buy small firms located in Yerevan for an equivalent of $9 per square meter. They previously cost $20 per square meter. The minimum price of such enterprises outside the capital was reduced to just $3 per square meter.
Vartanian told reporters that the government will open special shops across the country where the companies in question will be up for sale. Most of them were until now auctioned off or directly sold to their staffs.
More than 7,000 small enterprises have been privatized in Armenia since 1990. The process has slowed down drastically since 1998. Only 196 and 44 such entities were sold off in 1999 and last year respectively, reflecting the fact that the most attractive ones had already found buyers. The privatization ministry believes that the state should give away its remaining assets even at knock-down prices.