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Armenian Official Says Economic Crisis Is 'Over'

Armenian Trade and Economic Development Minister Nerses Yeritsian cited figures showing the first economic growth in a year.
PRAGUE -- A senior government official says Armenia's worst recession since the early 1990s is over, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Trade and Economic Development Minister Nerses Yeritsian on February 22 portrayed the latest macroeconomic data as a clear indication that the economic crisis in the country has ended. He cited official statistics that show the economy growing last month for the first time in more than a year.

According to preliminary data released by the National Statistical Service, gross domestic product increased by 2.4 percent year in January after shrinking by 14.4 percent in 2009. The reported growth is double the 1.2 percent the government forecast last month for 2010.

A senior official from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said last week that the full-year growth rate may well reach 2 percent.

Yeritsian added that the recovery has been facilitated by what he described as substantial capital investments made in public infrastructure in the last two years.

But Hrant Bagratian, an economist who served as prime minister under President Levon Ter-Petrossian, dismissed the official figures as misleading.

"The main reason for the January growth is that the situation was really bad in January last year," Bagratian said. "Does having the worst indicators in the Commonwealth of Independent States mean we are coming out of the crisis in good shape?"