Sargsyan to Pledge Action Against Budget Crisis

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan was due to make his first televised address to the nation in his current capacity late on Wednesday to promise swift action against the growing budget deficit while avoiding unpopular measures–government sources said.

Sargsyan will unveil a list of the "best and worst taxpayers" to underline his cabinet’s resolve to combat tax evasion–officials in the government’s press office told RFE/RL.

The speech comes amid mounting uncertainty over the fate of the government’s budget for this year–which has been jeopardized by worse-than-expected revenue collection. Analysts say as much as 35 billion drams ($65 million) in anticipated public funds are now in question.

The poor revenue performance has led to a delay in the release of a total of $55 million in IMF and World Banks expected in June. The government is widely expected to increase excise duties on tobacco and gasoline to bridge the gap.

The officials said Sargsyan will rule out any cuts in the government’s already scarce social programs but will announce a "restructuring" of the previously forecast expenditures.

The prime minister will blame the budget crisis on the "atmosphere of a widespread irresponsibility" within the state apparatus and praise the role of Western financial institutions–they said.

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