By Anush Martirosian
Armenia’s prime minister spoke of the risks that the country faces in view of the continuing global economic crisis as he visited parliament for a state budget debate Wednesday.
Addressing lawmakers from the parliament tribune Tigran Sarkisian said, however, Armenia is ready to face up to the challenge and make sure the crisis has a minimal impact on the country’s developing economy.
Among the risks for the Armenian economy created by a continuing global market decline the premier, in particular, mentioned dwindling and delayed private investments, shrinking private remittances, a temporary halt in the mining industry pending a surge in international prices for minerals, some delayed investment projects and reduced investment activity in the construction sector, which has so far been a key driving force behind the country’s robust economic growth.
Sarkisian also said that reduced consumption and negative expectations among creditors might come on the heels of these negative trends.
At the same time, Sarkisian sounded optimistic about the ability of the government to continue to maintain a steady economic growth for the years to come.
“Our economic growth will be essentially shored up by the construction of a new nuclear power plant and the Iran-Armenia railway, the establishment of a pan-Armenian bank as well as mortgage-loan and investment foundations,” Sarkisian said.
The projects were first announced by President Serzh Sarkisian who said in a major policy speech in parliament in early October that they will be a high priority on the government’s economic agenda in the coming years.
Premier Sarkisian also announced expected allocations from the Asian Bank that will, in particular, target the initiative of building, through the Bank’s assistance, a highway connecting Armenia’s southern region of Meghri with the Georgian Black-Sea port of Batumi.
Armenia also expects some $800 million in loans as a result of its ongoing negotiations with the World Bank, the premier announced.
According to Sarkisian, the establishment of free economic zones in the airports of capital Yerevan and the country’s second largest city of Gyumri is also on the cards.