Jewish American Group Discusses Cooperation With Armenian Leaders

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The International Monetary Fund has delayed the release of the last $32 million payment of its three-year loan program to Armenia–Finance Minister Levon Barkhudarian said on Wednesday.

Barkhudarian said the previous government’s "not precise estimates" about the country’s economic performance this year were a key reason for the delay. Budget revenues and growth figures were projected too high and the persisting effects of the Russian economic crisis were "underestimated," Barkhudarian told RFE/RL.

The money in question is part of the IMF’s $154 million Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility loan and is intended to strengthen Armenia’s extremely unfavorable balance of paymen’s. A high-level IMF mission which arrived in Armenia on Monday has already met with Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan–apparently to discuss the matter.

Government sources also said that a $15 million payment of the World Bank’s $65 million loan package for Armenia–expected in late June–has also been delayed after the IMF’s move. The loan was approved by the Bank’s management last December to cover Armenia’s 1999 budget deficit.

Officials in Yerevan said earlier that the worse-than-expected revenue collection may mean cuts in the already small budget. However–Smbat Ayvazian–the minister for state revenues–told RFE/RL on Wednesday that he his agency will ensure the projected level of the revenues.

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