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Armenian PM Again Rules Out Recession


Armenia - Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian chairs a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan, 21May2015.

Armenia - Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian chairs a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan, 21May2015.

Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian insisted on Thursday that the Armenian economy will continue to grow this year contrary to gloomy forecasts made by international lending institutions.

Abrahamian forecast an economic growth rate of “at least 2-3 percent” in opening remarks made at a weekly session of his cabinet.He claimed that it could even reach 4 percent if the Armenian government manages to implement all of its planned “programs.” He did not elaborate on them.

The government forecast 4.1 percent growth in its 2015 state budget that was approved by parliament late last year. That target has looked increasingly unrealistic in view of a deteriorating economic situation in Russia, Armenia’s number one trading partner and main source of worker remittances.

The International Monetary Fund said in April that Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product will actually shrink by 1 percent due to knock-on effects of the Russian recession. Citing the same external factor, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) forecast an even steeper GDP drop last week.

Abrahamian dismissed such projections as “empty talk.” But he was careful not to openly attack the IMF or the EBRD, targeting instead his domestic political opponents.

“I don’t know which political figures or forces want the government to fail and the economy to shrink,” he said. “But I am convinced that their wishes will not materialize and that we will achieve economic growth.”

The premier also said that continued growth in Armenia will be “evident” in the second half of the year. Citing unofficial government estimates, he said that the domestic economy already expanded by roughly 2.2 percent year-on-year in January-April.

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