POSITIVE INDICATION: The 2004 Index of
Economic Freedom released by the Heritage Foundation
and "The Wall Street Journal" January
9 rated Armenia as the only member of the Russian-dominated
grouping of ex-Soviet states with a "mostly
free" business environment, RFE/RL reports.
The study ranks 155 countries of the world on
10 different factors, including trade policy,
government intervention in the economy and fiscal
burden on businesses. Armenia maintains its 44th
rank with France, the world's fourth largest economy.
OMBUDSMAN WANTED: A draft bill on the creation
of the post of ombudsman passed in its final reading
last October has entered into force January 1,
2004, Armenpress reported January 9.
Under the law, the defender of human rights must
be appointed by the president of the country within
two months since its enforcement. The law envisages
that candidates for the post, who must be at least
35 years old with a university education, are
proposed by the president and must be approved
by a minimum three-fifths of all parliament deputies.
HARD CURRENCY: Despite the fact that US Dollar
has dropped more than thirty percent against the
euro over the past two years, Armenian Central
Bank authorities said the process in unlikely
to have any impact on Armenian national currency,
the dram, Armenpress reported January 12.
Officials of the bank said that for Armenian
authorities it is more important to maintain the
domestic purchasing power of the dram, a stable
level of retail and wholesale prices.
ECONOMIC COOPERATION: The issues of economic
integration between Armenia and Russia will be
discussed at "Cooperation and Integration-2004"
bilateral business forum to be held in Yerevan
February 20-23, PanARMENIAN.Net reported January
The forum will take place with the assistance
of Armenia's Ministry of Trade and Economic Development
and the Union of Manufacturers of Russia. According
to the Armenian national statistic service, the
commodity circulation between Armenia and Russia
increased by 33% during 11 months of 2003.
AIRPORT INSPECTION: The major inspection launched
last August at Armenia's main Zvartnots airport
at the order of President Kocharyan to identify
the main obstacles hindering its normal operation,
has resulted in conspicuous improvements, Armenpress
reported January 13.
A special attention was paid to how customs officers
treat passengers, reducing their contacts with
them to minimum. Though regular daily examinations
are set to end on January 15, the presidential
oversight service will keep the airport's operation
in its focus.
IMPORTED CARS DOUBLED: More that 13,000 cars
were imported in Armenia in 2003, 8,130 of which
were Russian and 4,977 were foreign, PanARMENIAN.Net
reported January 14.
According to the press office of the Customs
Committee of Armenia, the index has two times
exceeded the one of year 2002.
SEISMOLOGISTS WARN: Armenian seismologists
warn that a new powerful earthquake may hit the
region in the next 12 months following the deadly
December 26 tremor in the Iranian city of Bam
that has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives, Armenpress
reported January 14.
The seismologists said the area that may be hit
by a new quake encompasses the South Caucasus
including Armenia, as well as Turkey, Central
Asia, Pakistan and Iraq and claimed that there
are clear indications of a new wave of seismic
activity traveling across the region.
NEW CREDITS: In the coming years the World
Bank plans to realize five new credit programs
in Armenia, totaling $75 million, PanARMENIAN.Net
reported January 15.
The first credit program of $12 million will
be assigned for state administration reform. The
rest of the credit will be spent on reform of
public health, increasing the efficiency of the
system of provision of pensions, the restoration
of the system of drinking water supply, and on
reforming the secondary and higher education in