YEREVAN — as The National Assembly approved on Friday Armenian  government’s budget for next year which calls for further sizable increases in public spending and tax revenue.

“We are doing well,” Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said as he put an optimistic spin on the economic situation in Country. The spending bill passed by 69 votes to 37.

The budget commits the government to spending 1.88 trillion drams (almost $4 billion), up by 14 percent from its expenditures projected for this year.

In particular, spending on social program is to rise by 10 percent, to 489 billion drams. The budget calls for sharper increases in government funds allocated to education and healthcare. They are projected to total 163 billion drams and 111 billion drams respectively.

By contrast, Armenia’s defense budget will be virtually flat in 2020 at just over 301 billion drams ($634 million), a fact deplored by some opposition politicians and other critics of the government. The latter has pledged to strengthen the Armenian military through more efficient governance and its ongoing fight against corruption.

“Since May 2018 Armenia has acquired unprecedented, for the recent past, quantities of weapons and ammunition,” Pashinian said in this regard. He did not shed light on those acquisitions.

Armenia’s state revenues are projected to growth just as strongly and reach almost 1.7 trillion drams. According to Finance Minister Atom Janjughazian, this should translate into a budget deficit equivalent to 2.6 percent of Gross Domestic Project. The government had forecast a slightly lower deficit-to-GDP ratio for 2019.

These budgetary targets are based on the assumption that the Armenian economy will expand by at least 4.9 percent next year. Government officials say economic growth may well be faster, arguing that it accelerated to 7.5 percent in the first nine months of this year.

Pashinian declared that Armenia is now the fastest-growing economy in the former Soviet Union. Citing a raft of macroeconomic data, he said: “All this shows that we will be doing even better.”

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