President Kocharian Meets With Leading Armenian Businessmen

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–More than seventy leading Armenian businessmen were invited to the Government’s Reception House December 27 to meet with President Robert Kocharian.

According to the presidential press office–Kocharian said these types of meetings are becoming traditional. He said the main goal of the meeting was to hear what businessmen thought about the government’s economic policy–which would enable efficient evaluation of the current economic situation. Kocharian was quoted by his press office as saying "the government must do everything in its power to make next year’s programs clearer to the businessmen. The more profitable businesses are the richer the country will be become."

Summing up the economic results of the outgoing year–Kocharian said the end of the year was more promising than the beginning. He said a 5 percent growth of gross domestic product was reported in the first eleven months of the current year in comparison with last year. Kocharian said if it were not for the severe drought that hit the country’s agriculture last summer the growth indices in this sector would have been much higher. Major construction volumes have also grown by 20 percent. He added that a lot of work had been done in the disaster zone. Next year the volumes are expected to double there. A seven percent growth was also reported in the industrial sector and a 123 percent growth in export volumes. Kocharian attributed this growth to serious changes made in the export structure. A couple of years ago the biggest share in export volumes fell on metal scrap and precious stones–this year the biggest share was finished products.

According to modest calculations–about 12,000 new jobs were created in Armenia in 2000. Kocharian emphasized another important factor in economic development – three years ago–sixty percent of budget entries fell on customs duties and the remaining 40 percent on taxes. Now the correlation has changed in favor of taxes–and a 25 percent growth was reported in investmen’s and credit resource volumes have nearly doubled.

President Kocharian expressed hope that the reported positive tendencies would continue into the new year as well. He said with respect to loan resources there would be more wider possibilities. He reiterated that without maintaining political stability in the country all the economic plans were doomed to failure–noting that in the meantime there were no serious resources for destabilization. Kocharian once again stressed that all governmental officials who would try to make obstacles to businessmen would be punished. He drew special importance to reforms in the legal and judicial sectors–since they create serious guarantees for the protection of businesses in Armenia.

Kocharian said that the government has to take the tax payers’ opinions into account. He said that only under an atmosphere of reciprocal confidence and a proper governmental attitude toward businesses would it be possible to reinvigorate business activities and promote the country’s prosperity.

Concluding the meeting–President Kocharian said all the raised issues would be carefully studied. Kocharian also proposed the businessmen unite their capacities and help restore the disaster zone.

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