Poverty in Armenia is continuing to fall slowly but steadily despite relatively sluggish economic growth, the National Statistical Service (NSS) insisted on Monday.
In an annual household income report, the government agency said 29.8 percent of Armenians lived below the official poverty line as of the end of last year, down from 30 percent in 2014.
Poverty fell more rapidly during an almost a decade of double-digit economic growth in Armenia that came to an end with the onset of a global financial crisis in late 2008. The official poverty rate stood at 27.6 percent at that time. It soared to almost 36 percent in 2010, one year after the country’s Gross Domestic Product shrunk by over 14 percent.
Economic growth has been rather slow since then. This explains why the poverty rate is still below the pre-crisis level. It stood at 32 percent in 2013, according to the NSS.
Official statistics showed growth slowing from 3.6 percent in 2014 to 3 percent in 2015. It may ease further this year due to an ongoing recession in Russia, Armenia’s key trading partner. Prime Minister Karen Karapetian described the economic situation in the country as “very grave” shortly after he was named to run the government in September.
Presenting the report, Stepan Mnatsakanian, the head of the NSS, denied any contradiction between Karapetian’s statement and the further reduction in poverty recorded by his agency.
“We deal with the situation at which everybody can look,” Mnatsakanian told reporters. “It doesn’t matter to what extent people like that reality.”
The recently reshuffled government expects the Armenian economy to expand by 3.2 percent in real terms next year. Finance Minister Vartan Aramian cautioned last month that living standards in the country will rise noticeably only if annual GDP growth accelerates to at least 4 percent.