By Emil Danielyan
The International Monetary Fund believes that the rate of economic growth in Armenia will fall to a single-digit level this year despite government data indicating the opposite trend.
In its latest World Economic Outlook released on Wednesday, the IMF predicts that the Armenian economy will expand by 8 percent in 2005, a rate forecast by the Armenian government late last year.
However, official statistics show the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) soaring by almost 14 percent during the first eight months of this year. The figure puts the country on course to register a double-digit growth rate for a fourth consecutive year.
The IMF’s growth projections for Armenia have regularly been below the figures reported by the authorities in Yerevan in recent years. The fund, for example, expected a 7 percent growth last year. But Armenia’s GDP rose by 10.1 percent, according to the National Statistical Service.
IMF officials have repeatedly described macroeconomic data provided by the agency as reliable. Also, their assessment of Armenia’s macroeconomic performance has been highly positive. “Armenia is on a promising path toward sustained high growth and the alleviation of poverty,” Agustin Carstens, the fund’s deputy managing director, said during a visit to Yerevan in July.
The IMF report puts the forecast growth rate in the context of a “noticeable” economic slowdown registered in Russia and elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Armenia is among seven of the twelve CIS countries that are considered “low-income” by the Washington-based institution. Their economic growth is projected to “remain solid” in the coming years.
Still, the IMF report warns of “significant risks” to CIS growth in the medium term. “The weakness of the investment climate, including that due to pervasive discretionary government interference, remains a major deterrent to private sector confidence and investment,” it says.