The opposition minority in the Armenian parliament lashed out at the country’s government on Wednesday, saying that its economic policies have been a gross failure.
Opposition lawmakers brushed aside faster economic growth indicated by official statistics as the National Assembly debated a government report on the execution of last year’s state budget.
“They say that the economy grew by 7.2 percent while real incomes rose by only 2.5 percent and gross investments decreased,” said Hrant Bagratian, a former prime minister nominally representing the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK). “There can be only one, fantastic explanation for that. Armenians make money and do business abroad, while foreigners do business in Armenia and take money abroad.”
“This government is killing the people’s faith in the state,” charged Artsvik Minasian of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun).
Deputies from the opposition-leaning Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) added their voice to the harsh criticism. One of them, Tigran Urikhanian, accused the government of jeopardizing national security with its economic policies. He claimed that real per-capita income in the country is continuing to fall.
The government’s macroeconomic data indicates the opposite trend, however. In particular, it shows that poverty in the country has fallen slightly after a sharp rise that followed a recession in 2009.
A five-year policy program of President Serzh Sarkisian’s recently reshuffled cabinet, which was approved by the parliament last month, envisages that the Armenian economy will continue expanding by at least 5 percent per annum. This is supposed to translate into more than 100,000 new jobs and significantly reduce the official poverty rate.
Some opposition lawmakers used Wednesday’s parliamentary debate to seize upon media allegations that Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian holds a stake in a Cyprus-registered obscure accused of defrauding an Armenian businessman. Sarkisian repeated his strong denial of those allegations.
“I am happy to be targeted today,” he said. “I must be ready for similar accusations in the future and be ready to come up with sufficient evidence if we face various kinds of political speculation. This is normal in a democratic society.”