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June 10, 2011

ACNIS Considers Armenia’s Economic Situation

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) today held a roundtable discussion to analyze the contemporary trends of, challenges facing, and prospects for the development of Armenia’s economy. The meeting brought together representatives from international organizations and the diplomatic community in Yerevan, leading analysts, policy specialists, and members of the press.

ACNIS Administrative Director Karapet Kalenchian welcomed the audience with opening remarks. “Virtually all of our present-day distressing problems—emigration, inflation, low standard of living, etc.—derive from Armenia’s dismal economic condition. And I believe our discussion today will comprehensively examine these matters,” Kalenchian noted.

In his thorough presentation, the day’s speaker, leading economist Dr. Tatoul Manasserian, described Armenia’s current sad economic state and also offered his vision for the avenues toward improving this situation. Reflecting on the real economic “picture” and the official statistics which are misrepresenting, as a rule, and “works of art,” in Manasserian’s view, the speaker expressed a conviction that to date Armenia has not developed a strategy for economic growth. “Science and scholarly activities which—together with the Armenian diaspora—are considered to be one of our competitive advantages, have practically lost their function as a stimulus for economic advancement. Suffice it to say that Armenia’s state budget has allocated a mere one billion drams, or less than one percent of the country’s entire GDP, to the domain of science. And under such circumstances there cannot be a knowledge-based economy,” Manasserian argued. He also conveyed his concern with respect to Armenia’s gross foreign debt which, as the economist indicated, has almost reached the dangerous fifty-percent level of the GDP.

This notwithstanding, Tatoul Manasserian underscored that the way out of this predicament lies in restoring the balance between rights and accountability, implementing the provisions of the Armenian laws “On the Minimum Basket for Vital Welfare” and “On Science and Scientific Engineering Activities,” and raising the efficiency of tax and customs policies. As part of his anti-crisis packet proposals, Manasserian also highlighted the need to collect a progressive tax for unused land, to provide the villagers irrigation water at no cost and as subsidy, and to set up a strict price control at markets where agricultural produce is sold.

The presentation was followed by a series of questions and answers, and featured a lively exchange with the audience. The roundtable participants also included governance expert Harutiun Mesropyan; political analyst Davit Petrosian of Noyan Tapan news agency; chairman Edward Antinyan of the Ramkavar Liberal Party of Armenia; vice chairman Vardan Grigoryan of the Democratic Path Party; economist Seiran Minasyan; director Emanuel Mkrtchyan of Arminfo.am news agency; Haik Balanyan of the Sardarapat Movement; and several others.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) is a leading independent strategic research center located in Yerevan, Armenia.  As an independent, objective institution committed to conducting professional policy research and analysis, ACNIS strives to raise the level of public debate and seeks to broaden public engagement in the public policy process, as well as fostering greater and more inclusive public knowledge. Founded in 1994, ACNIS is the institutional initiative of Raffi K. Hovannisian, Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Over the past fifteen years, ACNIS has acquired a prominent reputation as a primary source of professional independent research and analysis covering a wide range of national and international policy issues.

For further information on the Center call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am; or visit www.acnis.am.

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