YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The World Bank will disburse up to $100 million in additional loans to Armenia next year to finance more infrastructure upgrades and public service and tax reforms, officials said on Thursday.
Under its four-year Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) launched in 2009, the World Bank was to lend a total of over $540 million to the country. More than half of this sum has already been made available to the Armenian government.
Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan told members of his government that the bank’s governing board in Washington has decided to extend the lending program by one year, until 2013, and increase its monetary volume by $55 million.
“We are talking about the areas of drinking water, irrigation, healthcare, education, agriculture and the modernization of tax, customs and finance management,” he said.
Sargsyan ordered the heads of relevant government agencies to conclude ongoing negotiations with World Bank officials and submit detailed timetables for implementing further projects envisaged by the CPS. They must be ready for launch in July next year, he said.
According to one World Bank official, Yerevan will in fact receive roughly $100 million in extra loans by 2013. The official told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the total amount of the bank’s existing lending package will thus reach $640 million.
The World Bank has provided almost $1.5 billion worth of mainly low-interest and long-term loans to Armenia since 1992, making it the country’s largest foreign donor. Armenia’s overall foreign debt is on course to rise to $3.8 billion by the end of this year.
Speaking at a weekly session of his cabinet, Sargsyan said the multilateral institution has decided to boost lending because of the efficiency of Armenian programs already financed by it. “The World Bank has highly evaluated their implementation,” he said.
The bank approved its most recent single credit to Yerevan, worth $39 million, last May. The money is due to be spent on the planned modernization of the Armenian electricity transmission network. The government is to spend $13 million of its own funds for that purpose.