Economic growth in Armenia in 2015 has fallen short of a 4.1 percent target that was set by the government a year ago, Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian acknowledged on Tuesday.
“We are going to have a growth rate of about 3 percent or even slightly more than that,” he told reporters. “We will calculate and present [precise growth data.] But that will not solve the issue of ensuring the people’s welfare.”
Abrahamian blamed the slower-than-expected growth on external factors, presumably including a recession in Russia that has significantly reduced remittances from Armenian migrant workers. “We need to achieve double-digit growth,” he said. “But the existing realities do not allow for such a possibility.”
“If the government had been headed by someone else or if all our ministers had been replaced nothing would have changed fundamentally,” the premier added, defending his cabinet’s economic record.
Abrahamian insisted in August that the government “will do everything” to achieve the 4.1 percent growth target. He cited official statistics showing that the Armenian economy expanded by 4.5 percent in the first half of this year.
President Serzh Sarkisian similarly put a positive spin on Armenia’s macroeconomic performance in 2015 when he hosted an annual reception for leading Armenian entrepreneurs last week. He argued that despite adverse external influences the domestic economy has continued to grow and the national currency has only slightly depreciated over the past year.
Citing the economic situation in Russia, the International Monetary and the World Bank said this spring that the Armenian economy will barely grow or may even contract in 2015. Both institutions revised their projections upwards in the following months.
The head of the World Bank office in Yerevan, Laura Bailey, said last week that Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product will increase by at least 3.2 percent in real terms in 2015. She forecast that growth will slow down to 2.2 percent in 2016.
The Armenian government set the same growth target in its 2016 budget proposal approved by the parliament earlier in December.