“Of course, in 2017 Armenia saw 7.7% growth in economic activity, exports, imports and tax collection, but issues of individual and systemic responsibility especially of high-ranking officials in various links of power still remain unresolved.”

This statement was made by Gagik Makaryan, Chairperson of the Republican Union of Employers of Armenia, at the discussion on Economic Promises of the Ruling Forces and the Reality: What have They Promised and What are They Doing?” hosted by Media Center on February 5.

According to him, starting from 2016 various analyzes among hundreds of employers have revealed 7 major obstacles with 4 main ones below: shadow economy, governance quality, corruption and unequal competition. "I can say that we made some efforts in these fields," he said and added that the most vital issue still needs an urgent solution. And according to Makaryan, this issue concerns trust and responsibility that the president constantly puts forth to the government. "Such trust is built on the basis of public agencies’ responsibility," Makaryan said and gave a simple example.

"You know, oftentimes bad governance or a wrong decision by a public official can cause bankruptcy of an entire enterprise and as a result people can lose their jobs, and as a maximum punishment for such a damage the official may be just dismissed from office", he said. According to the speaker, the very wording of the government's responsibility issue in the Constitution has some omissions.

When speaking about the election promises of the authorities and the current economic reality, another discussion participant Gagik Melikyan, Deputy and Secretary of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) faction in the National Assembly, first mentioned the economic activity and GDP growth rates by providing some inaccurate data. "In 2017, a 7.7% GDP growth [editor’s note: “Actually, this is the growth rate of the economic activity”]
and over 12% economic activity growth [editor’s note: “And there is simply no such figure for the annual period of 2017”] was ensured. It was not easy to reach such growth, especially for a country in our region. Republic of Armenia is the only country in the region to ensure such an economic growth”, he said.

In response to the objection that such a growth was achieved on a low economic basis as in 2016 the GDP growth in RA was 0.2%, Melikyan gave the example of Georgia and Azerbaijan, "Indeed, Azerbaijan or Georgia did not see a very high economic and gross domestic product growth in the past years either [editor’s note: “Georgia saw a growth of 2.2%”] and especially Azerbaijan saw a decrease. Therefore, there can be no comparison. We have no points of comparison with either Azerbaijan or Georgia”, he said.

Suren Parsyan, Responsible Officer of the ARF (Armenian Revolutionary Federation - Dashnaktsutyun) Economic Research Office, stated that the provisions covered in the ARF and RPA coalition government's program are currently ensured. "The election programs envisaged up to 5% economic growth; we achieved this rate. It was prescribed to ensure 40% volume to the GDP and now we have 25.2% export rate. It was also prescribed to raise the minimum wages by 25%; we currently take relevant steps. We make relevant calculations that will make it possible to achieve it," he said.

At the same time, he expressed his concern that the economic growth in Armenia is still fragmentary and clustered and provides no inclusive effect. "The problem is we have not seen any inclusive growth that is different from economic growth. In other words, we have not achieved poverty reduction, increased productivity and reduced income polarization," he concluded.

Arshaluis Mghdesyan, Media Center Project Coordinator/Editor

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