More people were estimated to live in poverty in Armenia last year than two years before when the South Caucasus nation still remained largely unaffected by the commencing global economic recession, according to local statisticians.
Earlier this week the National Statistical Service published a report suggesting that 1.2 million people (or about 36 percent of the total population of Armenia) in 2010 lived off a monthly income of 33,500 drams (or less than $90), which is assumed as a poverty line in Armenia.
This means that an additional 270,000 fell below the poverty line since 2008, the year when the nation enjoyed a robust 6.9-percent growth of its Gross Domestic Product before plunging into a 14.2-percent recession the year after amid plummeting international prices of base metals and remittances from Armenians working abroad. The Armenian economy began to pick up in 2010 expanding by 2.6 percent and is expected to grow by more than 4 percent this year.
Armen Martirosian, a lawmaker with the opposition Heritage party, blames the situation on the government and the entire state system that he claims have conducted wrong socio-economic policies resulting in more people becoming poor in Armenia.
“I wouldn’t pick on the government alone. This is the result of the joint work of both the legislature and the executive body, as well as other structures taken together. Wealth in the country has been divided among only a few people and only a few families have been growing richer, while a majority of people have found themselves in such a situation.”
Martirosian also challenges the poverty income benchmark, making the point that people who earn a little more than 33,500 drams and are classed as “non-poor” are not in fact any better off in conditions of the minimum consumer basket reaching 65,000 drams (about $170).
Meanwhile, Gagik Minasian, a ruling Republican Party lawmaker who chairs the National Assembly’s standing committee on finances and budget affairs, puts the falling standards of living down to the heavy effects that the global economic downturn has had on Armenia.