Armenia’s business environment has improved significantly since last year’s “velvet revolution,” Economic Development Minister Tigran Khachatrian insisted on Friday.
He said the current Armenian government has broken up economic monopolies, created a level playing field for all businesses and eliminated “systemic corruption” since taking office in May 2018.
Western donors and lending institutions have for decades urged successive governments in Yerevan to take such measures, saying that they are essential for the country’s faster and sustainable economic development.
“We now talk about equal competition, equal opportunities for entering the market or the absence of systemic corruption so easily as if that should be taken for granted,” Khachatrian told reporters. “But these are the kind of fundamental changes that have come about … They confirm that any citizen willing to engage in any economic activity can do it now.”
“This should be considered the main achievement of the revolution,” he said.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has also repeatedly made such statements. He has said that the improved investment climate puts his government on track to carry out an “economic revolution” in Armenia.
Pashinian’s political opponents and other critics dismiss these statements, saying that the government’s economic policies have not led to greater investments or faster economic growth. They argue that the Armenian economy grew more slowly in 2018 than in 2017.
Khachatrian confirmed an 8.6 percent year-on-year fall in Armenian exports recorded by the Statistical Committee in the first quarter of this year. The minister blamed it on a downturn in Armenia’s mining industry.
The government had forecast an 8 percent rise in exports in 2019.