YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s finance minister on Wednesday confirmed that the government is likely to reconsider again its budgetary expenditures projected for this year in view of a serious shortfall in tax revenues resulting from the ongoing recession.
Tigran Davtian, though, declined to either confirm or deny that the budget is going to be “underperformed” by as much as 15 percent because of the current difficulties as one senior lawmaker in charge of the committee on finance and budgetary affairs in parliament predicted earlier this week.
Talking to RFE/RL on Monday, head of the parliamentary committee Gagik Minasian said the government already has “an underperformance exceeding 15 percent.”
“I think we will end the year with a nearly 15 percent [budget] underperformance,” said Minasian, a representative of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia.
“You know we have increased the budget deficit in order to try to maintain the expenditure on the level that is necessary,” said Davtian answering RFE/RL’s question.
The Armenian state budget for 2009, drawn up before the onset of the crisis, calls for 945 billion drams ($2.45 billion) in expenditures. The government has struggled to meet this target, raising the possibility of a first budget sequestration since 1999. It has used a large part of more than $1.1 billion in anti-crisis loans obtained from foreign sources this year to finance the widening budget deficit.
Still in July, the government planned to cut the budgetary expenditures to 911 billion drams.
A further cut to a 900-billion-dram expenditure pattern now looks possible.
“This also depends on the performance, on the rate of implementation of loan programs,” added Davtian.