The Armenian government’s tax revenue fell short of the target set in the state budget for last year, despite continued economic growth in the country.
The 2015 budget committed the government to collecting almost 1.14 trillion drams ($2.4 billion) in various taxes and duties. According to newly publicized Finance Ministry data, tax authorities met less than 94 percent of that target.
Its shows that taxes paid by Armenia’s 1,000 largest companies accounted for almost two-thirds of the total tax revenue. At 696.5 billion drams, their tax contributions were slightly down from the 2014 level.
“In 2015 we failed to meet the tax revenue target,” Deputy Finance Minister Pavel Safarian told reporters last week. “The reason for that is known to you: a slower-than-expected GDP growth.”
The Armenian economy was on course to grow by approximately 3 percent in 2015. The government had forecast a growth rate of 4.1 percent.
Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian has blamed the slowdown on external factors, notably a recession in Russia that has significantly reduced vital remittances from Armenian migrant workers. That reduction may also explain why the volume of wholesale and retail trade in Armenia shrunk last year, leading some critics of the government to wonder whether the economy grew at all.
Artak Manukian, an independent economist, said on Thursday that the tax revenue shortfall of 73 billion drams ($152 million) is raising more questions about the official growth figures. “Either there was more tax evasion or the [reported] economic growth … has nothing to do with reality.”
The government expects Gross Domestic Product to increase, in real terms, by only 2.2 percent this year. Its 2016 budgetary revenue is projected to be slightly below the 2015 target.