Armenia 2013 Or Why Serge Sargsyan Says Nothing About It

James Hakobyan

Lragir, Armenia
Nov 13 2007

In addressing the activists of the Republican Party on November 10 when
they decided to nominate Serge Sargsyan as president of Armenia, the
prime minister described his vision of Armenia in five years time. It
should be noted that his vision was rather modest, in the political
language, it was realistic. Serge Sargsyan says in five years the
income of the citizens of Armenia will have been at least doubled,
every young family will afford to buy an apartment and a car. First of
all, it means that in five years Yerevan will again be in a mess. If
each new family affords to buy an apartment, it means these apartments
must be built. If each new family affords to buy a car, it means
more subways must be dug and new overpasses must be built. In brief,
what is underway in Yerevan will repeat in five years. Consequently,
Serge Sargsyan’s speech is a warning rather than a reassurance.

And the reason is not only because the citizens will undergo the same
stress in five years. The point is that when Serge Sargsyan says the
income of citizens will at least double, he does not utter a word about
how many times the prices of goods and services, including realty,
will grow. Meanwhile, Serge Sargsyan stated that he is now worried
about the prices of vegetable oil and butter more, didn’t he?

In five years time, after a young family buys an apartment and a car,
how much money will be left for vegetable oil and butter? Let alone
the electricity, water and telephone bills. If suddenly a young family
decides to have a baby besides a car and an apartment, it will bring
about additional expenses. Is it worthwhile to mention a washing
machine, home appliances, and furniture?

How much will all this cost? Even if the prices remain the same, a
double income might be too much, and there is no need to pamper the
citizens. However, over the past few weeks the prices grew so high
that if it repeats once or twice, no resource for young families may
be found in Armenia in five years. Or these families will be created
by the children of government officials and businessmen, who already
can afford to buy more than one apartment and car. The others will not
have become extinct though. They will have left for other countries
because if prices double in two or three years, whereas income doubles
in five years, very few are able to keep up with this race.

Besides, there is also the problem of the exchange rate of the
dollar. Is it a secret that most people in Armenia live on remittances
in dollars from their relatives working abroad?

Remittances total 1/3 of the GDP of Armenia, and their volume is
increasing. In other words, the source of income of most citizens of
Armenia is abroad. Consequently, Serge Sargsyan’s promise cannot
concern them. But they will also have a question to ask Serge
Sargsyan. How much the exchange rate of the dollar will be in five
years. In other words, what part of their income they will lose. Will
one dollar be exchanged for one dram or will one dram be equal to one
dollar? If the current rate of revaluation of the dram continues, in
2013 one dram will most probably cost 2013 dollars. It was necessary
to tell a couple of words about this for people to know and let their
relatives abroad know that the dollar sums they send have no purchasing
power in Armenia, and they should send cars and apartments to Armenia
instead. Or they should have their family move from Armenia. Forever.

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