By Astghik Bedevian and Shakeh Avoyan
Armenia’s state budget will reach a new record high level equivalent to $2.5 billion next year, Prime Minister Sarkisian said on Wednesday, promising a further increase in his government’s tax revenues.
The Armenian budget for this year calls for 583 billion drams ($1.7 billion) in government expenditures, a 18 percent increase from the 2006 level. Tax collection data for the first half of this year suggest that the government is on track to meet the expenditure target, which was revised upwards recently.
Speaking in the parliament, Sarkisian gave no further details of the draft 2008 budget to be submitted to the National Assembly later this year. Interviewed by journalists afterwards, Sarkisian denied any connection between the planned increase in government spending and his participation in the upcoming presidential elections.
“Only adventurists motivated by some pre-election interests can endanger the republic’s natural development,” he said. “And as you know, I have never been an aventurist.”
Sarkisian also said his cabinet will commit itself to ensuring a further sizable increase in its tax revenues. “Traditionally, our tax and customs revenues have accounted for the lion’s share of Armenia’s budgets,” he said.
The government will still be dependent on loans and grants from Western donors. In a separate development, Finance and Economy Minister Vartan Khachatrian announced on Wednesday that Germany will provide Armenia with 79.5 million euros ($110 million) in fresh loans next years.
Khachatrian and other officials said a large part of the money will be channeled into the implementation of several energy projects. The biggest of those projects involves the construction of a new high-voltage power transmission line running to the Georgian border. It will cost about 20 million euros, officials said.