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Minister Downplays Armenian Economic Crisis

Finance Minister Tigran Davtian

Finance Minister Tigran Davtian

YEREVAN -- Armenian Finance Minister Tigran Davtian today insisted that Armenia is emerging from its worst economic recession with minimal losses, and he downplayed the sharp decline in Gross Domestic Product registered this year, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Davtian likened the Armenian economy to an airplane that has landed successfully after a mid-air refueling carried out in turbulent conditions.

"We have managed to pass through turbulence, and I think we have reached the destination by the end of the year without big losses," he told a year-end news conference.

Armenia's GDP is projected to shrink by at least 15 percent in 2009 after more than a decade of robust growth.

Davtian also emphasized that the government has avoided social spending cuts and managed to keep its overall expenditures close to the level envisaged by the state budget for 2009.

Davtian said the government has spent at least 905 billion drams ($2.39 billion) despite an almost 18 percent drop in tax revenues.

The government has used a large part of some $1.3 billion in anticrisis loans obtained this year to cover the tax shortfall.