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Armenian Currency, Prices ‘Stabilized’


Armenia -- Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian holds a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan, 25Dec2014.

Armenia -- Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian holds a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan, 25Dec2014.

The Armenian authorities have succeeded in stabilizing the exchange rate of the national currency, the dram, and will do more to prevent its fresh fluctuations disrupting economic activity in the country, Deputy Prime Minister Vache Gabrielian said on Thursday.

“The exchange rate has stabilized,” Gabrielian told a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. He pointed to not only the dram’s strong rally late last week but also the fact that exchange margin rates of Armenian banks have returned to normal levels since then.

The dram depreciated drastically on December 15-17 as a result of knock-on effects of a currency crisis in Russia. Just like the Russian ruble, it regained most of its lost value against the U.S. dollar in the following days. The dram’s exchange has remained virtually unchanged since Sunday.

The sharp fluctuations pushed up the prices of essential goods imported to Armenia and forced many shops and other firms to suspend their operations.

“There were even well-stocked shops that kept working but had no clear price tags,” said Gabrielian. “That too has also ended everywhere. Those goods are now sold at fixed prices.”

Presenting the findings of an ad hoc task force headed by him, Gabrielian said the authorities will put in place more safeguards against currency crises. He said that the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) will more tightly regulate the work of currency exchange points while state anti-trust regulators will do the same with regard to companies that control key imports to Armenia. “Based on these regulations we will propose more long-term measures to the prime minister and the government,” added Gabrielian.

Artak Shaboyan, the head of the State Commission on the Protection of Economic Competition (SCPEC), told reporters that the anti-monopoly body is currently investigating the large-scale importers of wheat, sugar and imported foodstuffs as well as fuel. He said that key consumer prices have already fallen back in recent days.

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