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Government Approves 2003 Budget


By Atom Markarian

The Armenian government approved on Thursday its draft budget for next year which aims to ensure a nearly 30 percent rise in state revenues and expenditures through improved tax collection.

The bill, drafted by the Finance Ministry, will be sent to the parliament for consideration and debate next month. It projects 334 billion drams ($580 million) in net expenditures and 287 billion drams in revenues.

Government plans to increase tax revenues by more than 13 percent next year will be crucial for the successful implementation of the budget. Finance and Economy Minister Vartan Khachatrian said that will allow the government to bring the budget deficit down to 2.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2003.

The government plans, among other things, to raise the extremely low public sector wages. Customs and tax officials will be the main beneficiaries of the planned spending increase. Their average salary, excluding regular bonuses, will reach $120 in the course of next year.

The average monthly salary of civil servants is just $35.
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