Armenia’s Foreign Debt Set at $822 Million for 1998

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–National Assembly deputies continued their examination of the proposed 1998 fiscal year budget Thursday.

Deputies considered the various incoming humanitarian and government-to-government aid scheduled for Armenia for next year–in addition to Armenia’s dues to international organizations.

The national foreign debt was set at $822 million–an increase from 1997’s $693.6 million and last year’s $527 million. It was also estimated that grant in excess of 21 billion drams will also enter Armenia’s budget next fiscal year.

Deputy Finance and Economic Minister Aram Gharibyan admitted that certain changes can be made in the mode of operations–specifically in upcoming negotiations with donor countries and international entities. Gharibyan noted that some 5 million ecus of European Union’s 58 million ecu debt was paid at the beginning of the year–and an estimated 3 million ecu is foreseen to be paid on the interest at the beginning of 1998.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Ara Sahakian said that the increase in international dues must be resisted–and ultimately–according to him–membership in such entities must be frozen–or alternative membership options–such as guest memberships or associated membership types obtained.

Membership dues comprise $20.3 million of the national debt–and this amount will increase Jan. 1–1998 by $5.5 million.

The foreign ministry financial allocations were also examined–and the budget was set at 3.2 billion drams–more than 2.9 million of which is distributed among the 29 embassies and consulates of the Republic abroad.

Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian did not consider closing down some of the embassies in the country’s best interest. In addition–Arzoumanian noted the importance of opening embassies in Poland and at the Ivory Coast.

In addition 85 million drams will be allocated for the hiring of military attaches who will be placed in embassies in Russia–Greece–United States and Iran–said Arzoumanian.

He added that 94 million drams was needed for the renovation of the Armenian Foreign Ministry compound.

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