By Atom Markarian
The Armenian economy continued to expand at a relatively fast pace in the first half of this year with the Gross Domestic Product up by at least 10 percent from the same period in 2001, according to preliminary government data.
Finance and Economy Minister Vartan Khachatrian announced on Friday that economic growth will remain robust for the rest of the year. He estimated the first-half growth rate at “between 10 and 12 percent.”
The government’s department on statistics is due to release the basic macroeconomic figures for January-June 2002 later this month. According to the agency, Armenia boasted an 11.2 percent growth in industrial output in the first five months of the years -- the highest such increase in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Consumer price inflation stood at 1.7 percent.
Despite the seemingly strong macroeconomic performance, Armenia is still reeling from the economic collapse of the early 1990s with poverty and unemployment remaining widespread. The continuing rapid growth, which hit 9.6 percent last year, is not accompanied by a rise in foreign investment, a key prerequisite for the country’s economic recovery.
Economists say that it will take severe more consecutive years of growth in order for most Armenians to feel its benefits. They also point to the uneven distribution of incomes which deepens the divide between the rich and poor.