Economists say that this figure will continue to grow against the backdrop of rising prices
Photo: Gevorg Kazaryan, JAMnews
According to the National Statistics Service of Armenia, three out of every ten residents in Armenia live in poverty. Experts say that the level of poverty is extremely dangerous for a country such as Armenia. The authorities said that they are working on reducing the poverty rate, but have still not achieved any results.
Out of the 880 000 people who live in poverty in Armenia:
- 295 000 live in extreme poverty with their monthly income amounting to about 33 000 drams (69 dollars);
- 54 000 live in absolute poverty with a monthly income of 23 000 (48 dollars).
According to observations made by economists, compared to earlier years the level of poverty has decreased very little, if at all. Resident’s salaries and pensions have not increased, but bread, butter, dairy products and a host of other products consumed on a daily basis have become more expensive, resulting in a reduction of citizens’ purchasing power.
“In reality, the poverty level is much higher than official figures show. We see how quickly prices are rising and everything is getting more expensive. We see how inflation is reflected in products that are consumed daily. Against the backdrop of this, sellers of manufactured goods are also increasing their prices because they also consume products that are being sold at higher prices.
“Our compatriots who live in Russia have started sending home less and less money to their families because there are problems there as well. It is impossible for all of this not to affect the poverty level,” believes economist Zoya Tadevosyan.
According to the National Statistic Service of Armenia, in order to overcome poverty in the country an additional 63.2 billion drams (130 million dollars) is needed. And there are no such funds in Armenia, the economists say.
Economist Aram Kayfajian believes that the situation may change thanks to investments:
“Because Armenia’s economy is not very large, investments in the order of 300 million – 1 billion dollars may provide real relief. This will have a positive effect and the purchasing power of the population will grow. But you can’t achieve this in just one day.”
The Republican Party has been in power for the last ten years in Armenia, and it is not in a hurry to take responsibility for the high rate of poverty.
Vagram Baghdasaryan, leader of the faction of the reigning majority in the National Assembly of Armenia urges people not to look for guilty parties:
“We do not deny the statistics; we are saying that yes, we do have problems for which we need to make use of certain instruments. The goals and program provisions which have been introduced aim to decrease poverty – we must work seriously in that direction. We do not deny that there is such a phenomenon.”
The MP underscored the fact that poverty exists not only in Armenia but in all countries around the world.
Another MP for the same party who also heads the Parliamentary Commission on Social Issues made a sensational statement which is now being discussed by the entire country. Hakop Hakopyan says that the increasing prices will not affect the poor because the ‘poor don’t spend much’:
“Those who are poor are forced [have little choice in what they can afford] and automatically avoid such products that are becoming more expensive. A state policy is needed only if the growth of prices will seriously affect the poorer layers of society – they must be protected against these price hikes. Now there is no need for the government to get involved in this. The poor have the habit of resisting purchases of expensive products. This is the instinct of self-preservation.”