Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Monday claimed to be successfully carrying out an “economic revolution” in Armenia promised by him and downplayed relatively modest GDP growth forecast by his government for next year.
Pashinian addressed Armenian lawmakers as they began discussions on the 2020 state budget drafted by the government.
The draft budget bill calls for a sizable increase in public spending which would total 1.88 trillion drams ($3.9 billion). The government’s tax revenues are projected to rise just as strongly. These targets are based on the assumption that the Armenian economy will grow by 4.9 percent in 2020.
Pashinian said that the government opted for a “conservative” growth projection in order to maintain continued “macroeconomic stability” in the country. Actual economic growth next year may well beat this forecast, he told members of the parliament’s economic committees.
“The draft state budget for 2019 forecast a 4.5 percent growth rate but we have ensured a 5.2 percent growth rate,” argued the premier.
Opposition parliamentarians dismissed this explanation. Mane Tandilian of the Bright Armenia Party said that the growth projection set in the government’s budget proposal amounts to a “pessimistic scenario.”
“We have a non-revolutionary GDP growth [forecast,]” agreed Mikael Melkumian of the Prosperous Armenia Party.
“I believe that the economic revolution in the Republic of Armenia is gaining momentum,” countered Pashinian. “It’s a reality, and this revolution is now easy to see.”
“Huge investments are made in the Republic of Armenia,” he added without giving numbers.
Pashinian has repeatedly pledged to effect such a revolution ever since he swept to power in May 2018 as a result of mass protests that led to the resignation of Armenia’s former longtime leader, Serzh Sarkisian. He had said that it will significantly reduce poverty and unemployment.
In its comprehensive policy program approved by the parliament in February this year, Pashinian’s cabinet pledged to ensure that the domestic economy expands by at least 5 percent annually for the next five years.
Armenia’s GDP increased by 7.5 percent in real terms in 2017, according to official statistics. This growth slowed down to 5.2 percent last year but now seems on track to accelerate in 2019.