By Shakeh Avoyan
The collection of import duties, the second most important source of state revenues in Armenia, proceeded according to plan in the first quarter of this year despite the political crisis in the country, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Armen Avetisian, head of the State Customs Committee, said his agency collected almost 24.8 billion drams ($44.6 million) in such fees or 4 percent more than projected by the government budget for the period in question.
The government’s main tax collection agency also seems to be on track to meet its annual revenue target. The State Taxation Service reported late last week 28.3 billion drams in first-quarter revenues, up from 23.5 billion drams collected during the same period last year.
Armenia’s 2004 budget calls for 257 billion drams ($460 million) in combined tax and customs revenues.
According to Avetisian, the latest official figures show that the deepening political tensions and uncertainty have had no impact on economic activity in the country. He claimed that the opposition pledges to oust President Robert Kocharian are not taken seriously by the business community.
But Avetisian, a figure very close to powerful Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, could not explain motives for a recent statement by Armenia’s biggest business association warning that the unrest could undermine economic growth.