Armenian Parliament Approves 2008 Budget

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Armenian lawmakers on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to adopt the state budget for next year despite opposition claims that its fulfillment could be a risky job.
By a vote of 87 to 2, with eight abstentions, the parliament majority passed the government-submitted draft budget that envisages increased revenues mainly at the expense of improved tax collection and reducing the shadow segment of the economy.
The budget’s projected expenditures are set at 820 billion drams ($2.65 billion) and revenues at 744 billion drams with a deficit of 76 billion drams.
The dollar exchange rate is calculated at 325 drams, while the Euro’s is calculated at 470 drams. The budget projects a 10 percent GDP growth and a 4 percent inflation rate with a 1.5 percent margin.
The Republican Party, the Prosperous Armenia Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation voted in favor of the budget.
Among those voting against the bill were two deputies from the opposition Heritage faction attending the vote. Another opposition faction, Orinats Yerkir, abstained.
Artsvik Minasian, of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation said that their parliamentary faction voted for the bill because" a majority of their proposals had been accepted."
The 2008 expenditures represent a 40 percent surge from this year’s level. The sharp increase is partly due to the fact that the government will, for the first time, include social security taxes and subsidies to the state pension fund into its budget.

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