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Armenia: Economic Growth Expected To Reach Five Percent

Washington, 3 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Economic growth in Armenia is expected to be around 5 percent this year, with inflation held to around one percent per month, says Armenian Prime Minister Hrant Bagratian.

Speaking to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank annual meetings in Washington today, Bagratian said Armenia's current account deficit is declining, although still serious.

He said the government is going to emphasize growth of exports, primarily from light industry and agricultural product processing. Those two fields currently account for 55 percent of Armenia's exports.

The government's main objective is the continued move away from direct state management of the economy and speeding up privatization, said the prime minister. He ackowledged that the country did not achieve its privatization goals in 1995, but said that Armenia should catch up by the end of this year, when it plans to finish small enterprise privatization and transform large parts of the large enterprise sector.

He acknowledged serious problems in many of Armenia's banks and said he is committed to correct the situation working with the IMF and the Bank. Bagratian said Armenia will continue to need external financing for its current account deficit, but hopes to see more of the humanitarian aid grants it has been receiving shift to development lending and investment.