Poverty in Armenia decreased only marginally last year despite continued economic growth, the Armenian government and the World Bank said in a joint report presented on Tuesday.
According to the report analyzing the socioeconomic situation in the country, 32 percent of Armenians lived below the official poverty line as of 2013, slightly down from 32.4 percent in 2012.
The figure thus remained well above the official poverty rate of 27 percent registered in 2008, just before a global financial crisis plunged Armenia into a recession. The Armenian economy contracted by over 14 percent in 2009 before again growing in the following years. It expanded by 3.5 percent in 2013, according to official statistics.
The Armenian government expected economic growth to accelerate to over 4 percent this year. However, growth is on the contrary slowing down now due to worsening economic conditions in Russia, Armenia’s single largest trading partner and the main resource of vital cash remittances from migrant workers. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank anticipate that Gross Domestic Product will increase by less than 3 percent in 2014.
Presenting the report at a news conference with senior Armenian officials, Laura Bailey, the head of the World Bank’s Yerevan office, said slower-than-expected growth means that a significant drop in poverty in Armenia is unlikely in the short term.
The report also contends that in 2013Armenia’s GDP regained and even slightly surpassed, in real terms, the pre-crisis level. The more modest rise in real incomes of the population indicates an uneven distribution of benefits of the growth registered since 2010.
“During this period the rich have gotten richer while the poor have not gotten out of poverty,” said Hayk Gevorgian, an economic writer with the Yerevan daily “Haykakan Zhamanak.” This, he claimed, testifies to the “oligarchic nature” of the national economy.