Armenian Posts Double Digit Economic Growth in 2005

The Armenian economy has expanded at a double-digit rate for a fifth consecutive year–reducing poverty and boosting personal income–Trade and Economic Development Minister Karen Chshmaritian said on Thursday.

Official macroeconomic statistics for the first eleven months of 2005 show a 13.5 percent increase in Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product compared to the same period. He said its total value for the entire year is on course to surpass 2 trillion drams ($4.4 billion).

"For the second consecutive year–personal income grew at a faster rate than expenses," Chshmaritian told a year-end news conference.

Earlier this week–President Robert Kocharian stressed that Armenia’s continuing robust economic growth is a major achievement for the entire country. "This is quite serious progress and all of you can be proud of having contributed to it," he told the country’s leading entrepreneurs.

Kocharian similarly stated that the growth is benefiting all segmen’s of the population–reporting a 24 percent rise in the average salary and an 18 percent drop in unemployment–Armenia’s number one socioeconomic problem. The official unemployment rate stood just below 10 percent a year ago–though independent analysts estimate that the figure is higher.

Still–Armenia’s macroeconomic performance has been repeatedly praised by the International Monetary Fund and other Western donors. A group of IMF economists described it as "remarkable" in a research paper published earlier this month. "In coming years–economic growth and capital formation should be broad-based and generate employment," they wrote. The IMF experts also predicted that the growth rate will slow down to single-digit levels in 2006-2010.


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