The Armenian economy will grow faster than is anticipated by his new government and international lending institutions in 2014 and the following years, President Serzh Sarkisian said at the weekend.
“Given the current trends in the global economy and negative signals coming from markets important to us, the government program has slightly reduced the economic growth target for the coming years,” Sarkisian said in a speech delivered at a congress of his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). “This is a correct approach that reduces policy risks.”
“However, I am convinced that with extra efforts the government will manage to achieve greater concrete results and ensure indicators considerably exceeding the set targets,” he declared.
In its three-year policy program approved by the HHK-controlled parliament last week, Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian’s cabinet forecast that economic growth in the country will average 5 percent annually.
The previous government projected annual growth rates of between 5 and 7 percent. Sarkisian warned it last year that it must make sure the domestic economy expands by at least 7 percent. Gross Domestic Product increased, in real terms, by only 3.5 percent in 2013, however.
The International Monetary Fund said earlier this year that GDP growth will make up 4.3 percent in 2014. A senior IMF official told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) last week that the fund is now revising this figure downwards because of the deteriorating economic situation in Russia, Armenia’s single largest trading partner.
“The coming years will be a period of expanding economic opportunities and enhancing people’s welfare,” Sarkisian assured delegates of the HHK congress, many of them government officials and businesspeople. He based his stated optimism on economic reforms promised by Abrahamian’s cabinet and Armenia’s upcoming membership in the Russian-led Customs Union.
“We expect the attractiveness of the Customs Union’s large market to influence our economic upturn. We are confident that our investment and export growth rates will be considerably higher,” he said.
Government critics have already brushed the fresh government promises of sweeping reforms, saying that Abrahamian and several key ministers are wealthy individuals inherently disinterested in a fair business environment. Many of them are also very skeptical about economic consequences of joining the Customs Union.