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Opposition Lawmaker Downplays Economic Data


Armenia - Labor and Social Affairs Minister Mane Tandilian speaks at a cabinet meeting in Yerevan, 21 June 2018.

Armenia’s macroeconomic performance this year has not been as good as is claimed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, a senior opposition parliamentarian said on Monday.

Pashinian regularly touts official statistics showing continuing growth in various sectors of the Armenian economy. At a cabinet meeting last week he cited “good” macroeconomic indicators registered in July. He declared that GDP growth could reach double-digit rates in the coming years.

“I have the impression that either the prime minister gets inaccurate reports about the economic situation or he simply showcases only those figures that are more or less positive,” said Mane Tandilian, a leader of the opposition Bright Armenia Party and the chairwoman of a parliament committee on finance and budgetary affairs.

Tandilian, who served as labor minister in Pashinian’s cabinet from May to November 2018, argued that the Armenian economy is now expanding more slowly than in 2017 or the first few months of 2018. She also claimed that Pashinian and other government officials gloss over other, more alarming economic data.

“I am concerned about a sharp drop in the volume of cargo shipments,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “There has been a nearly 50 percent drop in the cargo turnover [so far this year.] It means that the turnover, exports of goods is falling.”

Tandilian also said that despite a sizable rise in its tax revenues the government carried out only one-quarter of planned capital expenditures on infrastructure projects in the first of this year.That further slowed economic activity in the country, she said.

Pashinian admitted on August 29 that GDP would have increased more rapidly this year had the government’s major capital spending projects not fallen behind schedule. He blamed that on delays in the selection of contractors and signing of contracts with them. Government agencies should therefore do a better job of organizing this infrastructure spending next year, added Pashinian.

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