Citing the need to boost its budgetary revenues, the Armenian government has decided to auction off a historic building in central Yerevan that houses its Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology.
Prime Minister Karen Karapetian’s cabinet gave the green light for the sale of the 7,800 square-meter property at its weekly meeting on Thursday. It set the asking price at an equivalent of roughly $28 million.
It was not immediately clear where the newly restructured ministry will be relocated if the sale goes ahead.
An explanatory note posted on the government website says that the privatization is needed for bringing additional revenue to the state budget.
Armenian tax authorities are on course to fail to fully meet the revenue target set in the 2016 budget. Finance Minister Vartan Aramian said earlier this week that the shortfall will likely total about 80 billion drams ($168 million).
This seems to be the main reason why the government plans to cut budgetary spending next year.
The imposing building is located in Yerevan’s main Republic Square, just a few dozen meters the Prime Minister’s Office. It was built in the late 1940s and was for decades occupied by Soviet Armenia’s state-controlled trade unions.
The government made clear that the prospective buyer would need its permission to alter the building.
Another, even bigger government building located at the sprawling square was sold for $52 million in 2013. It housed the Armenian ministries of foreign affairs, energy and agriculture. The buyer, a private firm reportedly owned by the Argentine-Armenian businessman Eduardo Eurnekian, plans to turn the structure into a luxury hotel.