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The shortfall in Armenia’s state revenues eased considerably last month because of improved tax collection, Gagik Khachatrian, head of the State Revenue Committee (SRC), said on Thursday.

Khachatrian told RFE/RL that the SRC collected 46.3 billion drams ($124 million) worth of taxes and other duties in April, down by 2.3 percent from April 2008.

The figure represents a major improvement over the first quarter of this year that saw the Armenian government’s overall tax revenues fall by 16.7 percent to 106.6 billion drams. The shortfall highlighted a growing negative impact of the global economic crisis on the country.

According to Khachatrian, tax authorities managed to reduce the deficit in April because of better tax administration and a tougher crackdown on widespread tax evasion. “We are now paying serious attention to the informal economy,” he said. “We must be able to collect many taxes from the shadow sector.”

The reported improvement is not enough for the successful execution of the government’s 2009 budget that calls for 945.5 billion drams ($2.6 billion) in total expenditures. In order to meet this target, the government needs to increase its budgetary revenues by 21 percent, an objective which looks increasingly unrealistic given the worsened economic situation in Armenia.

Mindful of that, the government recently rescheduled about 14 percent of projected spending until the fourth quarter of 2009. The measure may well have been a prelude to a downward revision of the budgetary targets.

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