A member of the World Bank Group will provide about $2 million to finance more reforms of Armenia’s economic and regulatory environment planned by the government, it was announced on Wednesday.
Armenian Economy Minister Tigran Davtian and the regional director of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Thomas Lubeck, made the announcement after signing a corresponding agreement in Yerevan.
Davtian told journalists that the IFC grant will go to pay for local and foreign expert work on fresh changes in the country’s economic legislation, training of Armenian officials and provision of new equipment to Armenian tax and regulatory authorities. He said those measures will target not only tax administration but also existing government regulations for import and export operations and food safety.
According to Lubeck, small and medium-sized enterprises will be the main beneficiaries of those reforms. He said the new grant is a follow-up to a similar reform program that was funded by the IFC in 2009-2011.
The World Bank and other international lending institutions have long pressed the Armenian authorities to improve the country’s flawed investment climate widely seen as an impediment to faster economic development.
The current government in Yerevan has pledged create a level playing field for all businesses throughout its nearly four-year tenure. It has initiated numerous changes in Armenian laws and regulations for that purpose.
Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in late December that the reforms will be implemented “much faster” in 2012. He said they have already produced “encouraging” results that were acknowledged by the World Bank in an annual global survey released last October.
Armenia was ranked 55th of 183 economies surveyed in terms of the ease of doing business. The World Bank noted less cumbersome procedures for starting a business, paying taxes and receiving construction permits put in place in the country in the past year.
Lubeck also cited the findings of the bank’s Doing Business survey. “Armenia has already made progress in this area,” he said.