“2017 will be a Year of Recovery”: Year-End Press Conference

On December 23, press conference of the RA Minister of Finance Vardan Aramyan took place, during which the Minister concluded 2016, referring to the 2017 programs.

According to Minister Vardan Aramyan, it is realistic to have 3.2 percent economic growth planned for 2017. “In spite of the poor state of the economy, however, we have positive changes. During the last two years the decline of transfers resulted in reduction of purchasing power and consumption volumes, but this year we have positive changes in terms of trade – 0.3 percent.  With regard to imports, we have a growth of 2 percent”.

The Minister added that the total public debt of RA amounts to 5 billion 905 million dollars. “Although the public debt has increased, it has not affected the interest rate; interest rates have not increased”, – said Aramyan.

“It is clearly presented in 2017 Budget Law what kind of debt we are going to involve. Deficit has its concrete sources as well, from whom and how much from the internal market will be involved. The cost of 2017 debt servicing will amount to around 119 billion drams, it already predetermines that we will service our debt smoothly. We have no any risks regarding debt servicing”, – said Aramyan. He noticed that investments are one of the weaknesses of the economy of Armenia. “The foreign investments gradually decrease, and we should lead this tendency to the direction of growth. The first steps will be ensuring macroeconomic stability and implementation of reliable and predictable macroeconomic policy”, – noted the Minister. According to him, the budget of 2017 is reasonable and inspires confidence in foreign investors.

The Minister mentioned that the GDP environment is rather modest in this year: “We will summarize in a lower price range”. “Sectoral developments are consistent with the expectations except agriculture, in which we planned to have positive growth, but as a result of recent developments we will have negative growth rate. The important thing here is that it is not related to economic development, we had a registration problem”, – informed Aramyan.

The Minister also spoke on the negative impulses coming from the outside: “We have had negative impacts on the economy penetrating from the outer world for two years. This year is the final point of shocks. 2017 will be a year of recovery; the real growth is expected to be 3.2 percent”. Aramyan also added that there are positive tendencies: both consumption and import started to increase, which were falling in the past but now we have growth of 2%. According to him, the prices of copper would also have positive impact in the next year, which would be higher than this year.The growth in the agricultural sector was not consistent with the forecasts, all other sectors forecasts coincided with the available indicators”, – said the RA Minister of Finance Vardan Aramyan.

“In August of 2016 we had 9.6% growth in the sphere of agriculture compared to the same period of the previous year, in September we had a decline of 20%, and in October the decline was 30%. In the case of such decline some economic indicators should have responded to it, it was in the form of prices, although there was no increase in prices in September and October”, – noted Vardan Aramyan.

Referring to the procurement process, Aramyan stressed the importance of electronic platform introduced in the procurement sphere, where two kinds of procurements were transferred to electronic platform. He noted that they have expanded the number of all customers in 2016.

 “Procurements from one person is an important development, here we have quite good improvement, considerable progress”, – he said and informed that the procurements of October, November and December would not exceed 90 million drams. “We will be very conservative here, the procurements from one person will be transferred to the electronic platform as well”, – he added and mentioned that they would be very consistent with strengthening electronic platforms.Vardan Aramyan also noted that some mechanisms are initiated to prevent all the possible corruption cases in the sphere of procurements.The Minister informed that as a result of the undertaken measures, the volumes of procurements from one person conditioned by the urgency of state needs have considerably decreased; the average indicator of participation in procurement procedures has improved. In particular, in 2015 the actual volume of procurements from one person amounted to about 21.2 billion drams (18.6%), and in 2016 – about 6.5 billion drams (7.1%). In 2015, the average indicator of participation in competitive procedures amounted to 3.4, and for the 9 months of 2016 – 3.5 participants.

The Minister of Finance touched upon the question of confidentiality of purchases for the President, NA President and Prime Minister as well, noting that it is done in sake of security of the officials. “There are some issues that should not be a subject for fetishism. Look at the international practice. We live in such a region that security risks always exist”, – concluded Aramyan and assured that the purchases of other officials, except the above-mentioned ones, would not be kept in secret.

“The most important thing for our country is economic growth; it can be a prerequisite for the solution of many of our problems. We will enter the year of 2017 with positive tendencies”, – said the Minister.