Prime Minister Karen Karapetian on Monday touted robust GDP growth registered in Armenia last year and laid out his government’s plans for the coming years amid lingering uncertainty about his political future.
According to official statistics, the Armenian economy grew by 7.5 percent in 2017 after stagnating in 2016. Government data, which is disputed by some critics of the government, shows particularly strong gains in industrial output and exports.
Karapetian emphasized this growth rate at a meeting with Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian and the Armenian army’s top brass which apparently focused on socioeconomic issues.
“In the next 4-5 years we will have steady economic growth which will be different from [growth] in the region, CIS and Eurasian Union member states as well as Europe,” he said in remarks publicized by his press office.
That growth, he said, will enable the government to implement “long-lasting fundamental reforms.” “Often times those reforms are not popular and are opposed by many,” he said. “But in case of having small successes their implementation will be easier.”
The premier insisted that his cabinet has already embarked on such reforms, pointing, among other things, to its anti-corruption initiatives and efforts to improve tax administration. “I want to assure you that the government has a clear idea on how we are going to improve the socioeconomic situation in our country,” he added.
The remarks came less than one month before President Serzh Sarkisian completes his final term in office and Armenia switches to a parliamentary system of government. Sarkisian, who also heads the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), has yet to confirm whether he will stay in power in a different capacity.
Many observers expect that the outgoing president will become prime minister later in April. Some media reports have suggested that Karapetian would be appointed as first deputy prime minister in that case. In his public statements Karapetian has also been coy about his political future.