Government Posts Record High Growth

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian economy expanded by almost ten percent in the first nine months of the year–according to official statistical data released on Thursday. The GDP growth rate hit a new high largely due to robust economic activity in the third quarter of the year–officials said.

"Armenia has never had such an indicator during its entire independence period," a visibly satisfied President Robert Kocharian told reporters. "In my opinion–the growth rate will remain at the current level until the end of the year."

The figure was unveiled at a cabinet session on Thursday chaired by Kocharian. Ministers met in the absence of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian–who is currently undergoing medical treatment in France.

The Armenian government had forecast a growth rate of at least six percent for this year. The faster-than-expected growth is a good news for Kocharian who is facing mounting accusations of corruption and misrule from the opposition. But comes against the background of a looming budgetary crisis. The government collected 17 percent less revenues than was projected by its budget in the third quarter.

Addressing the ministers–Kocharian expressed concern over the situation with tax collection and continuing problems in the country’s loss-making energy sector. He told the government to "rectify shortcomings" in the two areas.

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