YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia’s economy should grow by at least 5 percent annually and thereby “substantially” cut poverty in the country, Prime Minister Nikol Pashiniyan’s government said in its five-year policy program unveiled on Wednesday.
The 70-page program laying out the government’s priorities and policies was made public two months after Pashinyan’s My Step alliance won snap parliamentary elections by a landslide. Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Yerevan, the premier said it will undergo minor “editorial” changes before being submitted to the Armenian parliament by the end of this week.
The document’s almost certain approval by the National Assembly will amount to a vote of confidence in the government. My Step holds a two-thirds majority in the parliament.
The program declares the government’s commitment to a “competitive and inclusive economy” primarily driven by hi-tech industries. It says the government will strive for this by significantly improving tax administration, easing business regulations, guaranteeing fair competition, attracting foreign investment and stimulating exports and innovation.
This, the document adds, should translate into an average GDP growth rate of at least 5 percent in 2019-2023. “At the same time, a considerably larger number of citizens should participate in economic development, and economic output created as a result of their work should be distributed more evenly,” it says.
Armenia’s former government set practically the same growth targets in its last five-year program drawn up in 2017. It pledged to reduce the official poverty rate, which stands at around 30 percent, by 12 percentage points by 2022.
Pashinyan’s government is likewise promising “substantial” reductions in the poverty and unemployment rates. But it has set no specific targets.
Also, both the current and former government programs describe a steady and rapid increase in Armenian exports as the main engine of faster GDP growth.
Ever since he swept to power in May 2018, Pashinyan has repeatedly promised to carry out an “economic revolution” that will significantly improve the lives of ordinary Armenians. He has said his government has already succeeded in practically eradicating corruption and breaking up economic monopolies that have long hampered the country’s development.
According to official statistics, Armenian economy grew by 7.5 percent in 2017. It was on course to expand by roughly 5.3 percent in 2018.
According to the latest World Bank projections, Armenian growth will slow to 4.3 percent in 2019 and accelerate slightly in the following years.