Government plan against poverty, Italy
July 2, 2004

Government plan against poverty

Everan (AsiaNews) – President Robert Kocharian has announced a
12-year-plan to tackle poverty in his country. The decision arrives
after the World Bank voiced its decision to loan 210 million euros by
November 1st, for the construction of schools, roadways and irrigation
systems in Armenia.

The World Bank is the greatest creditor of Armenia, a country of 3.2
million, which is also expecting funds from the US Millennium Challenge
Account to accomplish similar projects. Kocharian depends on such
financial assistance for the continuation of his government. Securing
these funds will allow him to enhance the life of the country’s
residents. More than half of Armenia’s citizens live below the poverty
line; the annual per capita income is just above 500 euros.

The situation is very serious in suburban regions, but also in Everan,
where only half the population enjoys running water 24 hours a day,
and electricity is constantly interrupted.

The scourge of corruption torments the economy, once one of the most
flourishing republics of the Soviet Union.

In this year’s international report on political transparency, Armenia
came in 78th (from 133 countries). The main areas of the economy are
monopolized by groups connected with the political leadership.
Protests of the people in last months seem to have done brought about a
change in the government’s tactics.

Vartan Khachatrian, the Finance and Economy Minister, affirmed that
structural reforms, necessary to transition to a free market, were
`almost complete’.

According to analysts, the hurry of the government to show reforms and
its fight against poverty is an attempt to cool social tensions.