IMF Calls for Economic Reforms in Armenia

YEREVAN (Reuters)–An International Monetary Fund official said on Friday continued financial help for Armenia hinged on the approval of an economic program and budget due to be submitted to parliament by November 1.

George Anayiotos–an IMF representative for Armenia–said the fund wanted to see a commitment to market reforms before releasing the final $22 million tranche of its 1998 Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility.

"Financial policy must continue to be restrained–and the government has to give new impetus to structural reforms–privatization–energy–civil sectors–banking regulation and supervision–where Armenia has made progress in the last two years," he told Reuters in an interview.

The tranche is part of a total $150 million IMF loan–spread over three years–for the landlocked country–which neighbors Azerbaijan–Georgia–and Turkey.

Anayiotos said Armenia had come close to meeting macro-economic targets set by the IMF for 1998.

"Economic growth is about six percent–inflation is at a reasonable level–and we also have progress in international tenders. This progress must continue," he said.

Anayiotos said that in comparison with some other former Soviet republics–such as Russia–Armenia had made solid progress in revenue collection–which he said was a very important factor for controlling the budget deficit.

Armenian living standards are still low despite several years of comparative economic stability which followed the near total collapse of its industries after the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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