Categories
Armenia Economy Society

The Cost of Corruption

Yerevan authorities have announced plans to replace 500 elevators in the upcoming year, having considered the incomes of the municipality and the savings from 2019 budget.

“The new elevators are adapted for use by people with eyesight, hearing and mobility problems,” speaker of Yerevan Mayor Hakob Karapetyan has said in a Facebook post.

According to earlier estimates by city authorities, there are 4666 elevators in use in Yerevan today. Most of those elevators have been in use for more than 30 years and are outright dangerous. There are at least half a dozen incidents in my memory, when they have fallen, causing death and injuring people.

The previous Yerevan mayor Taron Margaryan, who served in this position since November 15, 2011 until being ousted, along with his Republican Party, by Nikol Pashinian’s revolution, would always say that the city has no financial means to replace the elevators. Meanwhile, Margaryan grew filthy rich in about 8 years of leading the city government.

So it turns out that having a proper mayor for only 1 year has been enough to replace more than 10% of Yerevan’s old elevators. That’s what I call the cost of corruption.

I also want to share a personal story, which illustrates my point extremely well. My family bought some land and a small house in a suburb of Yerevan in 2006. For several years we were using it mostly as a summer house and in 2013 I moved to live there permanently, because it was a nice little house and the air was fresh.

The house had a big problem, however… or the suburb had it, to be more exact — the 550 meters of dirt-road taking there, which was turning near impossible in rainy weather.

With our limited community resources we brought truckloads of gravel and sand and tried to put some order into the dirt-road, but that would soon turn to mud again. We also wrote dozens of letters to the city authorities and begged for help with the dirt road. The answer we always got was this — the city budget cannot afford to fix the road.

Following the change of city mayor last October, however, suddenly money appeared in the budget and this summer our dirt-road was turned into a perfectly paved road. So it was that simple… we didn’t need to suffer with the mud for so many years and people shouldn’t die or get themselves injured in old elevators… we just needed a proper mayor, who isn’t a crook and doesn’t steal from the people!

Categories
Economy Region

Armenia to surpass Azerbaijan and Georgia by GDP per capita. IMF

Armenian GDP per capita has surpassed that of Georgia and is projected to surpass Azerbaijan for the first time since 2005, according to IMF data. More importantly, the growth is projected to continue for the next 4-5 years according to IMF.

In 2019 GDP per capita in Armenia was equal to $ 4527.592 (current prices, USD), while that of Georgia was worth $4289.322 and Azerbaijan — $4689.378. The projection for 2020 says Armenian GDP per capita will grow to $4759.2, overtaking Azerbaijan.

GPD (current prices) in USD in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia

Meanwhile, Armenia’s GDP still is still lagging behind Azerbaijan and even Georgia, according to IMF data. At $13.4 billion USD Armenia’s GDP is 3.5 times smaller than that of Azerbaijan’s $47.1 billion and about $2.4 billion USD less than that of Georgia’s $15.9 billion.

As far as I’m concerned, the good news is that GDP in Armenia will continue to grow according to IMF. And if Pashinia’s full year in power (2019) is any indicator, this growth will actually translate into good roads and infrastructure, better medicaid and higher pensions for Armenian citizens, instead of going into the pockets of a bunch of corrupt officials, as was the habit during the previous regimes.

Categories
Armenia Economy Tourism

Record number of passengers in Yerevan airport; new, affordable flight routs to Armenia

“Zvartnots” International Airport’s yearly passenger flow exceeded 3,000,000 for the first time in its history, Armenpress news agency reports.

In 2018, the passenger flow was 2,690,000.

Admittedly, much of this growth is because of me — no kidding, I flew in and out of Zvartnots Airport at least 12 times last year! :))

Ryanair opens flights to Athens and Thessaloniki

Meanwhile, on January 3rd Ryanair budget airline announced new twice weekly routes from Gyumri to Athens and from Yerevan to Thessaloniki. The flights will start in May 2020 and the tickets are already on sale in Ryanair’s mobile app.

The Irish carrier Ryanair had announced back in October that it will start flying to Yerevan from Milan, Rome and Berlin in January and that it will open two more routes in summer.

Wizz Air annouces flights to Vienna and Vilnius

In another welcome news, the Budapest-based budget airline Wizz Air announced last month that it will open flights to Yerevan from Vienna and Vilnius in April.

Decreasing cost of airfare and Revazian

The high cost of airfare has long been cited as one of main obstacles for the development of tourism in Armenia. The cost of air travel has been decreasing for several years now, as consecutive Armenian governments have prioritized the issue.

Tatevik Revazian

With the appointment of Tatevik Revazian as the Chair of Civil Aviation Committee, things have taken a truly revolutionary turn. The young official, who was initially seen as inexperienced and lacking necessary skills to deliver, has since managed to attract two major European budget airlines to Armenia and has since become something of a hero, for being able to make promises and deliver.

Hence, her Facebook post on January 3rd, announcing Ryanair’s new flights as well as outlining possible new routs to Paris (Transavia), Memmingen (Ryanair) and Riga (Air Baltic), no longer seem far fetched, but rather as something that can and will be delivered.

Categories
Armenia Economy Tech

Amazon Web Services to collect Armenian VAT of 20%

I received a very interesting letter today. It said: “Effective May 1 2019, AWS will be required to collect Armenian VAT at a rate of 20% on charges incurred by non-business customers with a registered address in Armenia.”

Categories
Armenia Diaspora Economy

Anthony Bourdain's Take on Armenia

So I went for a beer with a couple of friends and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain turned up.
Here’s what Bourdain himself had to say about his visit to Armenia.

Categories
Armenia Economy

Armenia ranks 29th in World Economic Freedom 2017 report

Armenia’s ranking has registered a significant drop in this year’s World Economic Freedom 2017 report by the Fraser Institute. The country was placed 23rd in the previous report, but it has slipped all the way down to the 29th position.

Categories
Armenia Economy

Armenia is 79th in Global Competitiveness Report

Armenia in Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018

For all the loud promises Armenian authorities are making about enhancing the countries competitiveness, Armenia is only 73rd among 137 countries in the Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018.

Categories
Armenia Economy Region

Average salary in Armenia is higher than Azerbaijan, lower than Georgia

I came across this infographic on Настоящее Время, which shows average salaries in post-Soviet states in 2016-17. The data is taken from open sources, like the World Bank, etc. Interesting to see that the salaries in oil-rich Azerbaijan are lower than in Armenia, meanwhile Georgia is ahead of everyone. Below is a table extracted from the infographic, which I’ve typed up and translated into English for easy reference.

Country Salary
Estonia  $1,313.00
Latvia  $1,009.00
Lithuania  $903.00
Russia  $657.00
Kazakhstan  $432.00
Georgia  $413.00
Belarus  $402.00
Armenia  $397.00
Azerbaijan  $299.00
Moldova  $288.00
Ukraine  $263.00
Kyrgyzstan  $204.00
Turkmenistan  $198.00
Uzbekistan  $177.00
Tajikistan  $120.00
Categories
Armenia Economy

Number of tourists set to grow in Armenia, tourism industry contributes 4% of GDP

Food fest in Yerevan, undated

We’re starting to see more tourists than usual in Armenia lately. Armenian authorities say they expect a 20% growth in the number of tourists visiting the country. And there seems to be much more stuff to do for them as well — fests, celebrations, ropeways and ziplines, concerts everywhere.

Categories
Armenia Diaspora Economy

Remittances comprised 11.3% of Armenia’s GDP in 2016. World Bank


According to this World Bank report, remittances comprised 11.3% of Armenia’s GDP in 2016. It is also interesting to look at how Armenia is doing in comparison with other Post Soviet and Eastern European states.