The Armenian government has already secured more than a third of around $850 million in investments which it promised to attract into the domestic economy this year, Minister for Economic Development Suren Karayan claimed on Friday.
Prime Minister Karen Karapetian repeatedly gave such promises during campaigning for last April’s parliamentary elections. He said the sum equivalent to over 7 percent of Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product will come from foreign and local private investors as well as the state budget and foreign loans extended to his government.
Karayan insisted that “approximately 37-40 percent” of the promised investments are already in progress. But he declined to specify their sources.
“We can’t publicize names, it’s a commercial secret,” he told reporters. “I can only specify the sectors where those investments have been made.”
The minister stated earlier that at least 10,000 new jobs will be created in Armenia, mostly in the manufacturing sector, in the course of this year.
The government’s political opponents and other critics are skeptical about these pledges.Speaking in the Armenian parliament earlier this week, Edmon Marukian, a leader of the opposition Yelk alliance, pointed out that Karapetian has not visited any western European country since he became prime minister in September.
“What is being done to attract those investments?” Marukian asked. “Who is supposed to go [to Europe,] meet those people and bring the investments?”
Karayan dismissed that argument, saying that “many” potential European investors have visited Armenia in recent months. “Just a few days ago, French partners were visiting,” he said. “They are going to invest in our light industry and place production orders. And on Monday our partners from Denmark will arrive.”
The Armenian economy was essentially stagnant last year amid a continuing recession in Russia, Armenia’s leading trading partner. Karapetian’s cabinet expects that it will grow by at least 3.2 percent in 2017. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have forecast slightly lower growth rates.