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New Armenian PM Vows ‘Systemic Changes’


Armenia - Newly appointed Prime Minister Karen Karapetian arrives at the National Assembly in Yerevan, 14Sep2016.

Armenia - Newly appointed Prime Minister Karen Karapetian arrives at the National Assembly in Yerevan, 14Sep2016.

Armenia’s newly appointed Prime Minister Karen Karapetian said on Wednesday that he will embark on “systemic changes” to try to improve what he called a “very grave” economic situation in the country.

In his first public comments made since his appointment by President Serzh Sarkisian, Karapetian did not elaborate on concrete measures that will be taken by his cabinet.

“We have to understand that there is no magic wand, and I can say at this point that if we want to achieve changes in our economy we have to make systemic changes,” he said during the government’s question-and-answer session in the parliament. “To be honest, the real state of our economy is very grave, extremely grave.”

Karapetian told lawmakers that his government’s key economic priority will be to put in place “maximally favorable conditions for those who create added value.” “This may sound like a general formula, but I will not say more for now,” he said.

“As for what steps will be taken, we will present them to you,” added the premier.

Answering a question from another parliamentarian, Karapetian did say, though, that he is “very determined” to combat tax evasion because he believes that is vital for economic development.

Karapetian was more cautious about de facto business monopolies widely seen as an obstacle to faster growth. “Monopolies are not always bad,” he said, arguing that in a small country like Armenia some companies can gain dominant positions in the market if they outperform their competitors.

But he stressed that he is against monopolies formed as a result of “administrative resources.”

The new government will submit its policy program to the National Assembly after it is formed by Karapetian in the next few days or weeks. Karapetian shed no light on its likely composition, saying only that he will pick competent individuals.

The main official rationale for Sarkisian’s decision to name Karapetian prime minister is to speed up economic reforms. Sarkisian said late last week that Karapetian has agreed to “lead a great wave of changes” that will address popular disaffection with the socioeconomic situation in the country.

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