Economist Bagrat Asatrian describes the long-term strategic goals outlined by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on August 6 as ‘fantastic’, stressing that much higher growth rates are needed to fulfill them.
Addressing a rally in the Nagorno-Karabakh capital of Stepanakert last night, Pashinian unveiled a list of strategic goals that he said Armenian governments should achieve by 2050. In particular, he said that in the next three decades Armenia’s population should grow from the current 3 million to at least 5 million people and the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) should be increased 15 times.
Anticipating skeptical assessments by economists and analysts, Pashinian stressed in his speech that after achieving “the impossible” during the 2018 “velvet revolution”, Armenians are no longer interested in “what is possible.”
“What is possible to implement is no longer interesting for us. We are interested in what everyone considers to be impossible to realize. Because the Armenian people have already realized what is impossible!” he said.
Asatrian, who served as governor of Armenia’s Central Bank in 1994-1998, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) on Tuesday that Armenia needs to dramatically accelerate its rate of development to get on track for the goals outlined by the prime minister. Otherwise, he said, it will be impossible to achieve them by 2050.
Asatrian assessed the current rate of growth as positive, but still insufficient. “We have semi-annual results of [economic activity] at 6.5 percent, which can be said to be a good rate, especially given the qualitative shifts. But at this rate of growth we will at best quadruple our GDP in 30 years. In other words, we need to grow three to four times faster to achieve that result,” said Asatrian.
United Nations Population Fund Assistant Representative Tsovinar Harutiunian attached importance to the population growth benchmark set by Pashinian, but said significant changes in a number of areas are needed to achieve that.
“We can evaluate it only if we see much more specific programs, including calculations, resources, a timetable and expected outcomes,” Harutiunian said.
The UN Population Fund currently estimates that Armenia’s population will be reduced by 150,000 by 2050.
Armenia’s former President Serzh Sarkisian declared in 2017 a strategic goal of increasing the country’s population to 4 million by 2040.