Parliamentary Debates over 2008 Draft Budget Begin in Armenia

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenian parliament committees began Monday discussions on the next year’s draft budget, which was presented by Economy and Finance Minister Vartan Khachatrian.
The draft budget calls for a more than 40 percent surge in state expenditures and revenues. Under the budget bill the government spending in 2008 will total 820.8 billion drams ($2.45 billion), compared with 584 billion drams projected for this year. The budget deficit is projected at 75.6 billion Drams.
State revenues are projected to jump by 44 percent to 744.7 billion drams.
Education and healthcare sectors are set to become key beneficiaries of increased public spending. In particular, the education sector is to receive 103.7 billion in funding, up by almost 20 percent from 2007, while spending on healthcare is to increase by 24 percent to 54.6 billion drams.
217.4 billion Drams has been allocated to social spending, almost 70 billion drams more than was allocated for the 2007 budget.
Khachatrian said the GDP growth is projected to be 10 percent while inflation is projected at 4 percent with a 1.5 percent margin of error. The exchange rate of one US Dollar is calculated at 336.5 Drams, but the minister said that figure is not fixed and is subject to change.
The budget defect is planned to make up 2.16 percent of the GDP. Some 80 percent of all reverences are to come from taxes and state dues.

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