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Armenia's Economic Pulse

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  • #71
    Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

    The Nascent Insurance Sector of Armenia (Part II)


    Dec 10 2007

    YEREVAN, DECEMBER 10, ARMENPRESS: Successfully wrapping up its third
    year of operation Cascade Insurance ICJSC increased its paid up share
    capital to 618,640,000 AMD (over USD 2 Million), maintaining a leading
    position in the local Insurance market.

    "In three years since its foundation Cascade Insurance has
    established itself as a major participant in the vibrant and expanding
    Armenian insurance market. This additional capital injection further
    demonstrates the shareholders' commitment to the continued growth and
    success of the company," stated Jonathan Stark, CEO of Cascade Capital
    Holdings. Cascade Capital Holdings owns 65% of Cascade Insurance.

    The operation of the company is regulated by the Central Bank
    of Armenia. "Recently there were many changes in the insurance
    industry. We find development trends positive and the role of
    Central Bank indispensable to the insurance market. Their guidance
    and leadership direct the companies in the right path of growth,
    attested by emergence of larger capitalized insurance companies. This
    investment brings Cascade Insurance to the forefront of the insurance
    market in terms of paid up share capital," acknowledged Garnik Tonoyan,
    General Manager of Cascade Insurance.

    To better serve its customers Cascade Insurance launched Armenia's
    first 24-hour, 7-day per week Customer Service Call Center on December
    1, 2007.

    Cascade Insurance Customers can contact the call center representatives
    by dialing 0 800 55 555 at no charge to the caller. Now more than
    7,000 Cascade Insurance customers can call the Call Center any time
    of the day to get answers to all their questions regarding medical
    insurance. They can also inquire about a pending claim or file a new
    claim and the Call Center representatives will advise on the proper
    course of action.

    The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is a 35%
    shareholder of Cascade Insurance. Cascade Capital Holdings (CCH)
    is 100% owned by the Cafesjian Family Foundation. Cascade Capital
    Holdings' other companies include Cascade Bank, Cascade Credit and
    Cascade Investments.


    Noyan Tapan
    Dec 10 2007

    YEREVAN, DECEMBER 10, NOYAN TAPAN. The authorized capital of Cascade
    Insurance CJSC has grown by about 200 million drams in the fourth
    quarter of 2007 and currently makes 618 million 640 thousand drams
    (over 2 million USD), as a result of which the company occupies a
    leading position among Armenia's insurance companies. This step aimed
    at replenishing the company's authorized capital by shareholders of
    Cascade Insurance bears evidence of the fact that the shareholders
    have long-term programs, the director general of the company Garnik
    Tonoyan stated at the December 10 press conference.

    65% of shares of Cascade Insurance belong to Cascade Capital Holding
    created by the Cafesjian Family Foundation, 35% - to the European
    Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

    According to the executive director of Cascade Insurance Levon
    Mamikonian, the total amount of insurance premiums collected by the
    company in January-September 2007 made over 427 million drams (12.43%
    of the total sum collected by 9 companies operating in the Armenian
    insurance market), thanks to which Cascade Insurance occupied third
    place in the market. The company has signed 1,145 insurance agreements,
    paid compensation of 88.6 milion drams based on 1,724 claims (14.8%
    of the total and second place).

    Compensation sums of the greatest amount were paid in connection with
    health and car insurance.

    Cascade Insurance occupies first place by the amount of insurance
    premiums collected by some types of insurance: particularly, the amount
    of health insurance premiums makes up more than 45% of the total
    amount of premiums collected in the Armenian insurance market. The
    profit of Cascade Insurance amounted to over 23 million drams in
    January-September 2007, whereas the company operated at a loss in
    the previous two years, which was envisaged by the business program.

    Speaking about the development prospects of the Armenian insurance
    market, G. Tonoyan said that the management of Cascade Insurance
    appreciates the reforms being implemented by the Central Bank
    of Armenia in the insurance market. In his words, the proof of
    the positive tendencies is that insurance companies having large
    capitalization operate in the market. The director general of Cascade
    Insurance did not rule out that in 2008, the number of insurance
    companies operating in Armenia will decline again (in 2006, there
    were 16 companies). In his opinion, it is also not ruled out that
    some influential foreign insurance companies will start operating
    in Armenia.


    Mediamax Agency, Armenia
    Dec 10 2007

    Yerevan, December 10 /Mediamax/. Cascade Insurance Company's paid up
    share capital increased for 200mln drams and made 618mln 640 thousand
    drams (over $2mln).

    Mediamax reports that the General Manager of Cascade Insurance Garnik
    Tonoyan said this in Yerevan today. He noted that the increase of the
    paid up share capital evidences the confidence of the shareholders
    for the Company's activity and the presence of long-term plans in the
    relation of the county's insurance market. 65% of Cascade Insurance
    shares belong to Cascade Capital Holding, and 35% - to the European
    Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

    Garnik Tonoyan gave positive assessment to the recent legislative
    changes in the country's insurance market, singling out the regulatory
    role of the Central Bank. He noted that as a result of the reforms
    realized, insurance companies with high capitalization have remained
    in the market.

    Cascade Insurance has launched a 24 hour customer service call center,
    due to which over 7000 customers can operatively receive answers to
    all the questions of interest for them concerning medical insurance
    by means of the "call center".

    Executive Director of Cascade Insurance Levon Mamikonyan presented
    the results of the Company's work in the course of 9 months of 2007.

    The volume of attracted payments exceeded 427mln drams, the number
    of insurance agreements made 1145. The Company paid insurance
    compensations at the sum of 88mln 600 thousand drams (1724
    applications), most part of which falls on the share of medical
    insurance, the second place is occupied by car insurance.

    Concerning the attracted payments, 12,4% of the insurance market of
    the country (3rd place in the market) falls on the share of Cascade
    Insurance, as to the payment of insurance compensations - 14,8%
    (second place in the market).

    In the course of the 9 months of 2007, the profit of the company made
    over 23mln drams.

    Insurance premiums of 'Cascade Insurance' to make up 488mln AMD at the end of 2007

    2007-11-16 17:24:00

    ArmInfo. Insurance premiums of "Cascade Insurance" will make up 488mln
    AMD at the end of 2007. As Director of "Cascade Insurance" Garnik
    Tonoyan told ArmInfo correspondent, according to the results of 9
    months insurance premiums made up 427mln AMD and with this indicator
    the company occupied the second place in the insurance market.
    According to the results of the first 9 months in 2007, in the
    company's insurance premiums portfolio most volumes are registered in
    health insurance-165,7mln AMD (the first place), accident
    insurance-66,2mlnAMD (the first place), automobile insurance- 97,1mln
    AMD (the fifth place), different kinds of liability insurance -36,6mln
    AMD (the second place) and property insurance-32,6mln AMD (the fifth

    As he said, according to the results of 2007, the loss ratio is planned
    at the level of 20%, in particular, in automobile insurance -47 % and
    in health insurance-30%. In 2008 loss ratio is planned at the level of
    32%, in particular, in automobile insurance -66 % and in health
    insurance -30%.

    To note, "Cascade Insurance" was founded by "Cascade Capital Holdings"
    in December, 2004. As of today, the shareholders of "Cascade Insurance"
    are "Cascade Capital Holdings" (65%) and European Bank for
    Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) (35%). The insurance company
    carried out the first closed issue of shares in 2005, the second- in
    What if I find someone else when looking for you? My soul shivers as the idea invades my mind.


    • #72
      Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

      Renewable Energy: Hydroelectricity (Part I)

      ARKA News Agency, Armenia
      Dec 6 2007

      Armenia intends to buildup electric energy generation by small hydro electric plants

      YEREVAN, December 6. /ARKA/. Armenia intends to buildup electric
      energy generation by small hydro electric plants up to 10% of demand
      for electric energy, Armenian Energy Minister Armen Movsisyan said on

      `We have managed to attract private investors' attention to small
      hydro electric plants construction. Thanks to that, some 58 plants
      generating the power covering 5% of our domestic demand for electric
      energy are already registered in Armenia', he said.

      He said the programs under implementation now will make it possible
      to 10% of demanded electric energy in coming two or three years.

      `However, our domestic consumption is growing as well, and unlike
      nuclear power plants, hydro electric plants can't work in basis
      regime, since hydro resources depend on seasons', Movsisyan said.

      Public Services Regulatory Commission says 58 small hydro electric
      plants function in Armenia now.

      Their annual output totals 240 million kilowatt/hour.

      The commission says 104 small hydro-electric plants of 184 megawatt
      capacity are planned to be constructed in Armenia by 2015.

      National Statistical Service of Armenia says 4894.6 million
      kilowatt/hour of electric power has been generated in Armenia over
      the period between January and October 2007. This result is 0.2%
      higher than that of the same period a year earlier. M.V.-0--


      Dec 17 2007

      YEREVAN, DECEMBER 17, ARMENPRESS: Gevork Tumanian, head of the
      German-Armenian Foundation, said the volume of credits to be made
      available by the Foundation by next spring for construction of small
      hydro power plants and upgrading of the operating plants will amount
      to 2 million euros.

      He said the German KfW Bank has already made available a 6 million
      euro credit for that purpose.

      Under the agreement between the Armenian government and the German
      bank 30 percent of the rehabilitation and construction budgets are
      to be secured by the owners of the plants.

      Gevork Tumanian said the credits are made available with a10 year
      repayment period at 10.5 percent annual interest rates, which are
      lower than local market interests rates.

      He said seminars were held for owners of small power plants to explain
      them the requirements they have to meet. He said some 20 applications
      have been made for participation in the program.

      Armenia has 58 small hydro power plants now which altogether produce
      270 million kilowatt/hours electricity a year. Fifty-eight more are
      being constructed and when they are commissioned all small power
      plants are expected to generate a total of 500 million kilowatt hours
      electricity annually, or 10 percent of the domestic demand.


      Water Power & Dam Construction
      December 13, 2007

      Armenia's National Statistics Service has reported that Armenia
      generated 1.40 billion kWh of hydroelectricity in the first nine
      months of this year, a year-on-year decrease of 5.8 per cent.

      Hydroelectricity accounted for around 30% of total Armenian electricity
      production between January and September.


      Noyan Tapan
      Dec 6, 2007

      YEREVAN, DECEMBER 6, NOYAN TAPAN. The European Commission has
      assessed the potential of renewable energy in Armenia, particularly
      in the Sevan Lake basin. According to the European Commission, the
      potential of small hydropower plants in Gegharkunik marz makes 119
      million kwh annually.

      Besides, monitoring of wind energy was implemented in the marz -
      in the Semyonovka moutain pass. The monitoring has given a basis for
      design and feasibility study of a wind power plant with the capacity
      of 14.5 megawatts.

      During the December 6 meeting with reporters, the RA minister of energy
      Armen Movsisian said that Armenia's small hydropower plants currently
      generate energy that meets 5% of the total demand of the country,
      and this index will be increased to 10% within the next 2-3 years.
      What if I find someone else when looking for you? My soul shivers as the idea invades my mind.


      • #73
        Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

        Renewable Energy: Hydroelectricity (Part II)

        Legal Framework For the Development of Renewable Resources

        The legal framework is in place in Armenia for the development of renewable resources. Armenian law provides that the purchase of renewable energy is mandatory through 2016 at a feed-in tariff of $0.05/kWh. The most promising renewable energy resources are wind and biomass. No major initiative has been undertaken to develop these resources due to artificially low electricity rates and a lack of financing capital. There is a strong interest in Armenia with respect to biogas generation from farm-based anaerobic digesters as well as from landfills. Armenia also has a good potential for wind power development. The hydro power potential is also high.

        Solar and geothermal energy are the two least promising resources. This is in spite of the fact that 2 to 3 MWth of solar hot water heating already exists in the country, and the solar electric potential is largely untapped. The feed-in tariff may not be sufficient to support large-scale photovoltaic projects. Armenia is located in a zone of high tectonic and recent volcanic activity, however, its geothermal resources are largely unexplored, and at present only provide low-to-medium temperature thermal water. Further exploration may reveal high enthalpy resources suitable for electricity generation.

        Launch of the EU Armenia Renewable Energy web portal

        The first Armenian Renewable Energy web portal designed with EU support to encourage the development and financing of renewable energy in Armenia will be launched on 6 December by Minister of Energy Mr. Armen Movsissyan together with Charge d’affaires - Delegation of the EC to Armenia Mr. Raul De Luzenberger.
        Image Minister Armen Movsissyan says “Our quality of life and economic security are dependent on a stable and secure supply of affordable energy” and he continues: “Encouraging the production and development of RE in Armenia is a very important part of the energy policy of the Republic. We expect that RE will come to play the same prominent role of supply in Armenia as in many EU countries”.
        Mr. Raul de Luzenberger stresses that “This portal is a way for Armenia to be proactive and open in responding to changes in energy technology while protecting the environment. It also supports other initiatives by the European Union to explore the feasibility of developing renewable and clean energy in Armenia.” Image
        Welcome to the Web Portal on Renewable Energy in Armenia

        The portal aims to enhance the knowledge on renewable energy in Armenia with special focus on the Lake Sevan basin (Gegharkunik marz). It intends to increase the level of transparency and data exchange in the area. All interested parties will have free access to all data and information.

        The main features include a database on renewable energy, assessments of the potential of the various renewable energy sources (hydro, wind, solar, geothermal etc.) as well as comprehensive description of legal framework, legislation, market and tariffs and other details related to Renewable Energy in Armenia.

        The portal provides details on the renewable energy potential in the Gegharkunik marz, and for potential investors offers comprehensive feasibility studies on hydro and wind energy.

        This web portal is created as a part of the European Unions “Support to the Energy Policy of Armenia (EuropeAid/120653/C/SV/AM)” project.

        Interactive map of Armenia showing the potential resources of each Marz

        Renewable financing diversifies Armenian energy
        Armenia's rivers have power potential.

        Cascade Credit's Executive Director, Garegin Gevorgyan.

        Areg Galstyan believes he has the answer. Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Energy.

        Armenia currently generates so much electricity that it exports power to neighbouring Georgia. But the country has a plan to shut down, by 2016, aging nuclear facilities on which the country depends for 40 per cent of its power. How will Armenia make up the difference, given that it does not want to import more expensive oil and gas which currently account for 24 per cent of power production?

        Areg Galstyan believes he has the answer. Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Energy is optimistic that in this mountainous country of fast-flowing rivers and abundant sunshine, renewable energy -- wind, sun and especially water -- has the potential to meet as much as 70 per cent of its energy needs by 2020. About 36 per cent of the national power supply already comes from a renewable source: hydropower.

        Switching over more of the generating system to renewables is a government priority. But there were many stumbling blocks in the way of financing renewable energy projects – until recently.

        “Our banking system has been unable to provide money for renewable power projects in the range needed, from half a million dollars up to $4 million,” says Mr Galstyan. “So we have largely depended on foreign sources, such as grants, credits and co-operation with foreign investors or organisations. We also knew that a favourable investment environment was required to encourage and attract private investors. One of the first and most important steps towards this was establishing new legislation on energy saving and renewable energy (on November 9, 2004),” says the Deputy Minister.

        “Also, thanks to the Government’s decision to abolish tax on new renewable ventures and to set guaranteed tariffs to buy the energy from renewable generators, power generation projects from alternative sources became feasible,” he says, adding these measures have already yielded concrete results..

        Loans for green energy

        Sorting out the investment environment for renewables has cleared the way for finance. Cascade Credit, a lending institution established in Armenia in 1994 by Gerard Cafesjian, has as one of its particular aims the financing of small mini-hydro power generation projects and other competitive renewable energy projects. Cascade Credit is part of the Cafesjian Family Foundation (CFF) set up by Mr. Cafesjian, an American investor of Armenian descent, to foster economic development in the country.

        The EBRD, which under its new Energy Policy is committed to investing in renewable power, has joined in partnership with Cascade Credit which shares the Bank’s vision of promoting environmentally-friendly energy sources. “We are delighted to cooperate with the EBRD in bringing more alternative energy supplies to Armenia,” said Garegin Gevorgyan, Executive Director of Cascade Credit.

        A $7 million EBRD loan to Cascade Credit will be combined with $5 million from the World Bank and $3 million from the CFF. The $15 million total will be used to provide long-term loans to developers of renewable energy projects – primarily mini-hydro generation, but potentially wind and biomass as well. The project will also benefit from $3 million in grant funding from the Global Environmental Facility to help with project screening and evaluation, documentation, legal due diligence and monitoring operations.

        “We also hope that our funding and successful implementation of the project will eventually attract co-financing from other local banks as the banking sector gradually strengthens,” says Anthony Marsh, the head of EBRD’s Power & Energy team.

        In its first year of operation, Cascade Credit expects to finance 7-10 mini-hydro projects. In each it will fund 70 per cent of the project cost and expect the private developer to invest 30 per cent of their own money.

        Mini-hydro is booming

        About 38 small hydro-power stations are under construction in the country, which Mr. Galstyan says will meet ten per cent of the country’s electricity needs. The scheme has become so popular among private investors that it is becoming a challenge to acquire sites for new mini-hydro plants.

        Relative to fossil fuel generating plants, “hydroelectric power stations have less impact in terms of atmospheric emissions,” said Mr Galstyan. “They offer the lowest operating costs and longest plant life, compared with other generating options. Once the initial investment has been made in the necessary civil works, the plant life can be extended economically by relatively cheap maintenance and the periodic replacement of electro-mechanical equipment. The ‘fuel’ (water) is renewable, and is not subject to fluctuations in market conditions.

        “We are also proud that our country hosts the first-ever wind power plant in the South Caucasus. It started operating in December 2005 and consists of four wind turbines perched on a mountain pass in the northern Lori region,” says Mr. Galstyan.

        Power to the village

        The combined power of the wind turbines, 2.6 megawatts, is very modest compared to that of Armenia’s leading power plants. “The sole operating reactor of the Metsamor nuclear plant, for example, has a 360-megawatt capacity,” continues Mr. Galstyan. Still, electricity generated by wind should be enough to meet the needs of the nearby town of Stepanavan and surrounding villages. “This is a pilot project and we will not be satisfied with just these four turbines. This project will develop,” said Mr. Galstyan. Other potential locations for wind turbines are in the northern part of Lake Sevan and at the foot of Mount Aragats.

        Since renewable energy sources create minimal greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming, Cascade Credit will help its clients sell carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) framework of the Kyoto Protocol. The EBRD’s Multi Donor Fund for Early Transition Countries (ETC Fund) has provided money for technical cooperation to assist Cascade in registering its investment projects under the CDM framework. “We are encouraged that Cascade will bundle several of the small projects it finances together so they can more easily be monetised, allowing Armenian developers to tap into the international emissions trading market,” says EBRD’s Tony Marsh.

        “Another positive aspect of developing mini-hydro plants is that most of them will be located in very remote areas of the country. This will mean greater rural electrification, improvements in quality of life, and potential reductions in poverty while showing respect for the environment. Air quality in Armenia will improve and there will be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions – two peripheral but significant advantages. Ultimately, the people of Armenia stand to benefit,” explains Mr Marsh.

        By Loretta Martikian, Press Office coordinator
        Contact: Power and Energy team

        6 November 2006

        What if I find someone else when looking for you? My soul shivers as the idea invades my mind.


        • #74
          Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

          Poverty and Income


          ARKA News Agency
          Dec 21 2007

          YEREVAN, December 21. /ARKA/. About 260,000 people overcame the
          poverty threshold in Armenia in 2004-2006 and the share of the poor
          reduced 23.4% in the country, officer of Armenia's National Statistical
          Service Diana Martirosova said in presenting a report on the social
          picture and poverty in Armenia.

          In 2004 the poor constituted 35% of the overall number of population,
          whereas in 2006 the indicator reduced down to 27%.

          75,000 of 260,000 people who have got over the poverty were below
          extreme poverty line, she said.

          According to Martirososva, in 2006 the poverty became less acute
          and deep.

          "Yet, poverty is still a problem for Armenia as 26.5% of the country's
          population or about 850,000 people are below the poverty line,
          including 130,000 extremely poor people," she said.

          The report on the social picture and poverty in Armenia was carried
          out in the country in the period from January 1 to December 31 2006
          among 5,184 households in 29 cities and 112 villages. It has been
          prepared with assistance of the World Bank, USAID and the ministries
          of labour and social issues, healthcare, science and education.


          ARKA News Agency
          Dec 21 2007

          YEREVAN, December 21. /ARKA/. Poverty reduction rates in Armenian
          cities exceed the similar indicators of the country's villages, officer
          of Armenia's National Statistical Service Diana Martirosova said in
          presenting the report on the social picture and poverty in Armenia.

          Martirosova reported that in 2006 the highest rates of poverty
          reduction - 28.1% as compared with 2004 - were recorded in Yerevan
          where the main economic capacities are concentrated.

          "In other cities of the country the poverty reduction rates are
          somehow lower than in Yerevan - 18.5%," she said.

          Martirosova also said that the poverty reduction indicators in
          Armenia's regions are in harmony with the trends in the countries of
          Europe and Central Asian.

          "Actual data of the studies conducted in these countries show that it
          is the residents of capitals who take advantage of economic development
          most of all. Rural areas are behind; population of other cities,
          except the capital, take the advantage of economic development to
          the least extent," she said.

          According to the National Statistical Service, about 260,000 citizens
          of Armenia overcame the poverty line in 2004-2006 and the share of
          the poor in the country's population reduced by 23.4%.

          The study on the social picture and poverty in Armenia was conducted
          in the country in the period from January 1 to December 31 2006 among
          5,184 households in 29 cities and 112 villages. It has been prepared
          with assistance of the World Bank, USAID and the ministries of labour
          and social issues, healthcare, science and education.


          18:50 19/09/2007

          "For the first time ever in Armenia the average allowance level will
          be over the poverty threshold in 2008," Vazgen Khachikyan, chairman
          of social security state foundation, told a news conference today. In
          his words, next year expenditures in social security will total 171
          bln drams and this year they amounted 106 bln.

          "We are going to make the base allowance 6800 drams and 1 year work
          experience will amount 395 drams. So, the average allowance will
          exceed 21,800 drams," Khachikyan said. In his words, if states could
          allocate 2 percent of their GDP to allowances, poverty would vanish
          from the world.

          Khachikyan noted that Armenia has a serious problem of birth
          rate. "Unfortunately, our society is listed among the most rapidly
          aging societies. It also causes several problems in social security,
          especially, that the average life expectancy is high in Armenia,"
          the chairman of the foundation said.

          Economic News
          November 30, 2007 Friday

          World Bank Implements Poverty Reduction Strategy in Armenia

          Yerevan. OREANDA-NEWS . November 29, 2007. The World Bank on November
          27 approved a US$18.5 million Fourth Poverty Reduction Support Credit
          (PRSC) for Armenia, the Bank's press service announced. The project
          will support the implementation of the governments Poverty Reduction
          Strategy Program (PRSP) by helping to sustain economic growth,
          providing resources for the budget, bolstering the fight against
          illegal logging and facilitating priority reforms of the government.
          This fourth installment will bring total budget support from the Bank
          to over $85 million since 2004.

          The Bank helps the Armenian Government to reduce costs in
          telecommunications and aviation by fighting monopolies, in order to
          benefit exporters and businesses generally and to spur job creation.
          Some of the funding will be used to build systems that will enable
          the public to access full information on companies and their owners a
          vital first step for companies to become more transparent and attract
          more foreign and domestic capital for investment and job creation.

          A key objective of the program is to ensure that customs and tax
          administrations are reformed in order to reduce corruption, thereby
          improving the prospects for investment. The credit is also supporting
          adequate monitoring and combating of illegal logging in order to
          ensure that Armenias forests are protected. The conservation of
          Armenias forests will help the poor as they will benefit from more
          investment opportunities in rural and mountainous areas.

          "Looking at the entire four-year program, we are confident the
          Government has used these funds wisely," said Saumya Mitra, head of
          the World Banks economic team.

          "If you look at the deep-seated reforms that have taken place
          external observers can see where these funds have been spent. They
          are visible in new education and health policies -- rationalizing
          schools and using money saved to repair schools and raise teacher
          salaries and training standards and modernizing hospitals and
          focusing on primary health care. The country now benefits from better
          quality and reliability in electricity and public utility services,
          cheaper phone calls and more competition in the mobile market, and
          higher spending on pensions and poverty benefits. These were all high
          priority actions for the Government over the past three years and the
          Banks technical advice and financing have helped the country to
          achieve results."

          But Armenia can not be complacent the country still has considerable
          work to do if it is to continue to be competitive. By eradicating
          monopolies in the distribution of commodities and in production and
          by raising standards in customs and tax administrations, it can
          continue to improve the business environment. These steps are
          necessary if the excellent economic performance of the recent past
          very high economic growth and a sharp fall in poverty is to be

          The credit is provided on concessional terms, with a maturity of 20
          years, and a grace period of 10 years.

          Since joining the World Bank in 1992, Armenia has benefited from
          US$1.1 billion in loans for 49 projects.


          ARKA News Agency
          Nov 20 2007

          YEREVAN, November 20. /ARKA/. The average monthly nominal wages,
          as per preliminary information, was 74,433 Drams in Armenia in
          January-October, which is a 20.3% increase as compared with the
          same period of the last year, Armenia's National Statistical Service

          According to the preliminary statistical information, salary in budget
          organizations was 53,781Drams, which was a 22.6% increase against
          January-October 2006 and a 0.2% increase against the previous month

          In non-budgetary organizations average monthly wages was 92,975Drams
          - an 18.9% increase against the level of January-October 2006. In
          October, as compared with September, a 0.2% reduction was recorded
          in average salary level in non-budgetary organizations. At the same
          time, the level of average monthly nominal wages remained the same
          in October as compared with September.

          In total, money income of Armenia's population was 1,590,567.1mln
          Drams in January-October - a 25.1% increase against the same period
          of 2006. Money expenditures of the population increased 23.5% to
          1,525,277.9mln Drams in the period as compared with January-October

          The value of money income increased 0.3% and money expenditures reduced
          6.1% as compared with the previous month (October). ($1=317.73Drams).


          19-09-2007 17:47:19

          Today the minister of employment and social security Aghvan Hovsepyan
          said the average family benefit in 2008 will total 20 thousand drams,
          and each family will get a distinguished approach. According to the
          ministry's estimate, next year 16.5 thousand will get benefits.

          In 2008 the average retirement benefit will rise by 17 percent and will
          total 21,850 drams. The government has foreseen to boost the minimum
          monthly wage from 20 thousand to 25 thousand from January 1, 2008.

          The government will also boost the basic salary of civil servants. It
          will total 40 thousand drams, Aghvan Vardanyan said.

          What if I find someone else when looking for you? My soul shivers as the idea invades my mind.


          • #75
            Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

            Selling Out and Up: Real estate market suggests Yerevan is hot property

            ArmeniaNow reporter, By Julia Hakobyan

            If, as in other societies, real estate prices are an indicator, Armenia has entered a Golden Age in home buying. Or in home selling, rather, as the years of double-digit Gross Domestic Product have paralleled a dramatic rise in the cost of home-buying. Over the past decade, real estate prices – starting from a low-point of the post-soviet collapse –have risen up to 10 times, reaching amounts comparable to some European countries.

            This summer, the average price for one square meter of real estate in the center of Yerevan increased by $237 over 2006, reaching an all-time high of $1,337. The depreciation of the dollar (down by 15 percent in the past year) is to be considered, but for comparison: The international standard determining survival – the “consumer basket” – is set at $1,357 in Armenia. In other words: One square meter of prime real estate is only $20 less than the minimal annual income for living. (In neighboring Tbilisi, Georgia – also experiencing a wave of new construction – a square meter averages about $1,000.)

            Contrary to estimated value in soviet times, ground floors are now a sought-after location for speculative buying, as the free market has brought a demand for easily-accessible retail space. In the center of Yerevan, first-floor space can cost up to $3,000 per square meter. “There is a great demand in the city for commercial spaces and the prices for the ground floor are unpredictable,” says Vruyr Penesian, director of VVP real estate agency. “In fact only few such places remain in the center and now are valued at remarkable prices, reaching $1 million for a 300 square-meter space.”

            And while the center of the city demands the highest sums, the pattern of increase is rippling outward. In the Arabkir district on the north-northwest border of the center, prices rose (on average) by $222 per square meter to $1,090.

            Citywide, the average price for real estate is about $770 per square meter. But “bargain” prices, previously standard for prime locations, are to be found now only in the distant suburbs, such as Erebuni or Malatia-Sebastia districts where one square meter is offered for $360.

            Despite some predictions that high prices for real estate will freeze the market, the number of property deals has been steadily growing along with the prices. In 2000, 33,233 property transactions were registered in Armenia. This year, 10,000 have been registered monthly. This July, for example, 18 percent more transactions took place than in the same month last year. Sixty-six percent of all transactions took place in Yerevan. At least 550 deals for private homes were sealed in June, an increase of 11 percent over the previous month, and up 25 percent over the same month in 2006.

            In a country where the average salary is $177 per month, a surge in real estate transaction might seem unlikely. Real estate agents, though, say there are several reasons which pushed the market into an industry niche that is inconsistent to living standards for the general population. The first noticeable stir in the real estate market in Armenia was registered in 1995 when men who had left for Russia came back with money and made investments in property.

            Most often in those days, shopping for an apartment started on Victory Bridge (crossing Hrazdan Gorge in front of Ararat Brandy factory). There, sellers would gather on the weekend and line the bridge, wearing details of their property scribbled onto cardboard strapped around their necks. (A similar sort of “tan shuka” – home market – still deals today where shoppers pay 300 drams, about $1, to match-make with private sellers, bypassing the middleman and his commission.) Owners also pasted notices to metro-station walls or along popular walkways.

            Now, 243 real estate agencies registered in Yerevan have changed the old process. And even though ex-migrants from Russia are no longer in the major group of buyers, real estate agents say that the market has advanced largely due to money originating in Russia. According to realtors, one of the main stimuli for the price increase is the continuous investment from abroad. Non-Armenians, Diaspora, Armenians who earn money abroad, see an attractive market in Armenia, regardless of whether they ever plan to live in the country. Prices that are unaffordable to 90 percent of the local population still are inexpensive by standards of much of Europe and North America.

            Penesian says that although most locals cannot afford to buy at market prices, they nonetheless benefit from the boom. Many, he says, sell their homes at premium prices, buy less expensive property, and pocket the profit. It is worth noting, too, that most properties now being sold were “given” to the owners by the soviet state. During soviet times, sale of government-issued property was forbidden. Trading of property was allowed, and a black market existed whereby money was unofficially exchanged for upgrades, but the current situation remains a new phenomenon 16 years after independence.

            Selling to fly . . .

            With the law on privatization in 1991 citizens became full-fledged owners of their property. But events following independence – including war in Karabakh, energy crisis, political uncertainty, unemployment – caused an exodus that contributed to Armenia’s first real estate market. Now, the realtor says that the middleclass, yet a small but growing segment of the Armenian population, has heightened expectations for living standards, compared to the previous generation, and has changed the buying demographic. Even those without excessive wealth, are willing to pay top dram, understanding the value of investment.

            Banks are helping make the investments a reality.

            Armenians, previously a society suspicious of lending or borrowing except from friends or relatives, have embraced the concept of mortgages. Generally, banks offer 10-year loans based on a 25-percent down payment and interest rates ranging from 12-15 percent. At least one bank has a modified plan, offering loans for only 15-percent down payment and a 20-year mortgage. The offer only applies, however, to newlywed couples, or to the purchase of newly-built property. Penesian’s agency deals mostly with “elite” apartments and luxury homes and works now with some 20 developers. His clients are largely from Russia, United States, European Union and the Middle East. Foreigners typically are more interested in the newly-constructed luxury buildings.

            The oft-used description, “elite”, has become so entrenched in Yerevan real-estate lingo that it has nearly lost its meaning. “Elite” has replaced “VIP” as a mark of prestige. (Indeed, it is the new catch-phrase of Yerevan – “elite” restaurants, “elite” taxi service, “elite” schools, and a magazine called “Elite Life”.) Penesian and other brokers have found it necessary to create a Yerevan-specific real-estate vocabulary to simplify the selection process for clients who may not even be in Armenia. “Elite”, by Armenian definition, would likely be “standard” in Europe or in the West. Usually it means that all furnishings are “Euro” quality – meaning, for example, that the plumbing has been installed according to international standards. Such apartment buildings usually have their own power supply, including central air conditioning, and round-the-clock water delivery. Many offer on-site security service, doormen, building supervisors and, significantly in gridlocked Yerevan, parking garages. The more upscale variants (“elite” elite, perhaps) offer cleaning services, health clubs, catering, high-speed internet, etc.

            Before there was a need for real estate agencies, property was defined according to its era. And, according to the era, all were identical. “Stalin” houses, built before 1960, were the most desired during soviet times. Made of stone, durable, spacious and comfortable “Stalin” apartments are the more expensive properties, following “elite”. Mostly located in the communities of Kentron and Arabkir, such units are characterized by high ceilings. A studio apartment with French balcony is priced between $50-80,000, depending on location. “Khrushchev” buildings, from the reign of Nikita, reflect the period when Yerevan became a soviet warehouse of humanity, when buildings were put up with practicality rather than aesthetics or safety, in mind.

            Sometimes referred to as boxes, the 1960-70 era apartment complexes infamously were among the first casualties of the Spitak earthquake, a testament to their shoddy construction. Half as big as the “Stalin” units, they are also half the price. While prices for property reflect the desirability for living in the center of Yerevan, there is a growing trend among the well-off to build or buy outside the city. Areas such as Arinj and Jrvezh – traditionally sites for summer homes – are now becoming suburbs of sorts for those with the means to create their own conveniences.

            Khachatrian, a 22-year old marketing manager, opened “Lav Arajark” (Good Offer) real estate agency last year in Abovian. The young realtor says it is perfectly situated to be a commuter town. “Abovian is the nearest town to Yerevan with developed urban infrastructure and yet low prices,” he says. “Life is much cheaper here compared to Yerevan – from food to real estate.” He expects, too, that as Yerevan becomes more congested, more polluted, more snarled in traffic, young Yerevan families will come to appreciate the cleaner air and less-hectic pace of the nearby town (currently with about 30,000 residents).

            “Public buses go from Yerevan to Abovian every five minutes,” says Khachatrian. “To reach Abovian by highway is much easier and faster than to reach some districts within Yerevan.” Prices for real estate seem to indicate that others share Khachatrian’s vision. From 2006-7, the price for one square meter of property in Abovian increased 60 percent, from $250 to $400. Khachatrian says that about 70 percent of his buyers are from Yerevan. People make good deals selling their apartments in Yerevan, moving out to less expensive properties in Abovian so that they can live on the money they have made from the sale. Now there are fewer “one-way ticket” clients for professionals such as Penesian and Khachatrian. Now, too, a one-way ticket to America is worth about one square meter of Yerevan real estate.

            Մեր ժողովուրդն արանց հայրենասիրութեան այն է, ինչ որ մի մարմին' առանց հոգու:


            Please visit me at my Heralding the Rise of Russia blog:


            • #76
              Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse


              ARKA News Agency
              Jan 7 2008

              1. In January 2007 the Law "About Supervisory Chamber" took effect.

              Under the Law, the Chamber is an independent supervisory body that
              exercises external state control over the use of budgetary funds and
              public and communal property. Before, the Supervisory Chamber was
              functioning within the country's parliament.

              Under the Law, the Chamber supervises state budget expenditures,
              including subsidies and submission of conclusions on state budget
              and privatization programs, annual reports of the Central Bank,
              management and servicing of the national debt.

              2. The signing of an agreement between the Government of Armenia and
              "ALROSA" diamond extracting company on cooperation in diamond cutting
              field. Under the agreement Russian raw diamonds are to be supplied to
              Armenia for processing and re-export. "ALROSA" made an inspection and
              picked up four enterprises - "Dimotech" Closed Joint Stock Company,
              "Arevakn", DCA and "Yukos" - for cutting of the raw diamonds for over
              $1mln supplied to Armenia at the end of December.

              3. Armenia's "AKBA-Credit Agricole Bank" received its first $12mln
              syndicated loan from EBRD and Citygroup banking group for three
              years. Later the bank received the second syndicated loan for $20mln
              under the agreement signed with EBRD and the international consortium
              of BZ BANK German banking group, Developing Worlds Markets American
              investment foundation and Cordiant Capital Canadian investment
              foundation. In the year 2007 Armeconombank also received a syndicated
              loan for $15mln from EBRD and a number of world major banks.

              4. The Vedanta Resources Company reached an agreement on sale of 84.2%
              of the stock of Sterlite Gold Ltd. Canadian Company (with Ararat Gold
              Recovery Company (AGRC) being its main asset) to Georgian "Marneuly
              Kvatcite" that is a daughter company of "Industrial Investors" Russian
              group. The transaction cost has not been announced, yet, according
              to the preliminary information, it is $86mln ($0.3845 per share),
              including payoff of $25mln debt of Sterlite Gold.

              5. The biggest mobile operator on the territory of Russia and
              the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) "Mobile Telesystems"
              (MTS) open joint stock company purchased 80% of the authorized stock
              of International Cell Holding Ltd. that is 100% indirect owner of
              Armenia's leading mobile communication operator K-Telecom (VivaCell
              trademark). The option agreement on sale-purchase of the remaining
              20% of K-Telecom is to take effect the earliest in July 2010 and is
              to be in effect until 2012.

              6. The Armenian Stock Exchange (Armex) has been reorganized to an
              open joint stock company and sold to OMX Scandinavian Stock Exchange.

              Under the agreement signed between the Government of Armenia and
              the OMX, the latter became 100% owner of Armex and the Central
              Depository. The shares of Armex and the Central Depository were
              expected to be handed over to the OMX on January 3 2008. Apart
              from the agreement on purchase of the shares, the Government of
              Armenia and the OMX also signed an agreement on joint efforts to
              ensure long-term development of Armenia's capital market. According
              to the experts, OMX's coming to the Armenian market will promote
              development of securities' market in the country and will provide
              broader opportunities to Armenian enterprises to attract domestic
              and foreign investments.

              7. The Russian Bank VTB and the Armenian Copper Programme (ACP)
              company signed an agreement on cooperation. Under the agreement,
              the sides are to jointly implement a project on development of Teghut
              copper and molybdenum field and on construction of a mining factory
              on the territory of Armenia with total cost of $300mln. The Bank VTB
              is to organize the project financing for "Teghut" closed joint stock
              company. Under the agreement, the Russian Bank VTB is to provide a
              $257mln loan for 12 years for development of the Teghut cooper and
              molybdenum field in Armenia.

              8. The first section of Iran-Armenia gas pipeline was commissioned
              in 2007. This means that Iranian gas started coming to Armenia.

              9. During 2007 four companies placed their corporate bonds on the
              market - "Shen Concern" closed joint stock company, "Armenian Copper
              Programme" (ACP), "Valletta" Co. Ltd. And "ArmRosGasprom" closed
              joint stock company. The total volume of the issues was 2.5bln Drams.

              10. Russian "Vimpelkom" company became the 100%owner of the shares of
              "ArmenTel" Telecommunication Company.


              President Robert Kocharyan held a traditional, end of the year meeting with entrepreneurs

              26.12.2007 10:08

              `Year 2007, which is closing with 13.6 percent economic growth, has
              been one of the most successful years. Double-digit economic growth of
              the last seven years proves that the reforms undertaken are efficient
              and thanks to these reforms today we have a stable and dynamically
              developing economy. I am confident that for the coming four or five
              years we have a real chance for a sustained double-digit economic
              growth,' the Robert Kocharyan said at the traditional, end of the year
              meeting with over 60 representatives of business circles, President's
              Press office reports.

              `The state budget is totally executed, even though during the year it
              was augmented by another 38 billion AMD. And even that increased budget
              has been executed entirely. It allowed the state to fulfill all its
              obligations, as well as to address a number of very serious social
              issues. You might remember that during our last year meeting I said
              that special attention would be paid to the administration in the areas
              of customs and taxation. Evidently, not every one is happy with this
              attention, however it is obvious that that policy provided the state
              with a serious opportunity to shape a budget oriented toward social
              needs and to address those needs. Spending in the areas of public
              health and education has increased dramatically. Salaries in the public
              and private sectors are steadily rising. I am confident that next year
              they will increase further. The capital expenditure for infrastructure
              ` road construction and water supply - has increased substantially. It
              is also noticeable that the constant expansion of the country's economy
              is positively influencing the standards of living. There are realistic
              prospects, and they are already envisaged in the budget, to further
              increase pensions and social benefits,' said Robert Kocharyan.

              The President of Armenia noted that the market of consumer goods
              continues to grow, people take more mortgages, while rates decrease and
              the maturity of the loans increase, which invigorates the real estate
              market. Robert Kocharyan said that everything would be done to continue
              this trend into the following years so that a larger number of people
              have the opportunity to improve their living and social conditions.
              President Kocharyan underlined that the businessmen have their fair
              share in this success, which is a result of the working relations
              between the Government and the private sector.

              Speaking about the economic prospects for the next year, Robert
              Kocharyan said that as a result of the anticipated substantial
              investments, it is estimated that next year there will be significant
              development in the areas of banking, information technologies, and
              mining. According to mr. Kocharyan, for the coming years in the mining
              sector alone the investments could reach half a billion USD.

              The President spoke also about some problematic issues such as the wide
              social polarization among the different strata of our society, the
              uneven development between the capital and the marzes. `Over the recent
              years we have been paying more attention to that issue, a number of
              programs have been developed to address the problem. However, in terms
              of practical policy we will try to really improve the situation through
              the increased investments. We already know precisely what needs to be
              done, availability of resources is being assessed and, I repeat, this
              is an issue, which due to its scope is prone to some sluggishness. I
              have no doubt that shortly we will have success in this direction as
              well,' said Robert Kocharyan.

              President Kocharyan talked also about the issue of monopolies, noting
              that in this case it is more appropriate to speak about the businesses,
              which have a predominant position in the market. He said that the
              reluctance of others to enter their sphere of activity is of somewhat
              psychological nature, and that persistent steps must be taken to
              rectify the situation.

              Speaking about the problems, which arise in Armenia as a consequence of
              the global developments, Robert Kocharian mentioned primarily the
              fluctuations of consumer goods' prices as a result of the increase in
              the prices of oil and wheat. `It is imperative for the Government not
              to permit these fluctuations to become the tools for unfair
              competition. These fluctuations can be acceptable only in the context
              of international prices but not if they are enforced through the use of
              predominant position,' stressed Robert Kocharyan.

              Speaking about possible political risks of the next year, Robert
              Kocharyan mentioned the presidential elections. The President of
              Armenia assured that everything would be done lest the political
              developments have a negative impact on the economy. He said that with
              this regard there is already a positive experience, i.e. the ability of
              the authorities to prevent any economic shocks during the elections
              held so far.

              The President of Armenia and the businessmen spoke also about making
              the rules of the game extremely precise in the relevant legal field,
              introduction of comprehensive mechanisms for the development of the
              priority areas of economy, mitigation of the consequences for small and
              medium businesses after the introduction of changes in the simplified
              taxation system, as well as the issues related to the necessity to
              sustain predictable and stable credit and monetary policy.

              Robert Kocharyan said that all the raised issues would be examined, and
              noted that with regard to many of them the work has already begun. The
              President of Armenia spoke in particular about the recent inexplicable
              dramatic decrease in the value of dram, noting that the investigation
              of the matter has been launched and soon it would be clear who is
              behind that machination and those responsible would be brought to

              Last edited by Siamanto; 01-20-2008, 05:13 PM.
              What if I find someone else when looking for you? My soul shivers as the idea invades my mind.


              • #77
                Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

                By Kieran Cooke

                BBC NEWS
                2008/01/09 00:02:45 GMT

                As the international price of gold touches record highs, the rush
                is on to find and exploit deposits around the world. Old mines are
                being revived: new ones are opening up.

                In the town of Ararat - about an hour's drive south of Yerevan,
                Armenia's capital - investors from Russia have moved in to take control
                of what is believed to be one of the biggest gold-mining operations
                in the country.

                The move has prompted concerns within Armenia over increasing Russian
                control of vital national economic interests.

                In the South Caucasus, one of the world's most volatile areas, it is
                also raising the spectre of renewed regional conflict.

                In a series of deft investment moves in recent years, Russia has
                used financial resources generated from sales of its vast oil and gas
                reserves to regain control of a number of enterprises in what were,
                before the early 1990s, territories of the Soviet Union.

                We know the foreigners are after the gold Armen Gevorgyan, trader

                Nowhere is this investment drive more evident than in Armenia. As a
                result of often secretive deals linked to the Armenian government's
                privatisation programme, Russian companies now control about 80%
                of the country's power generating facilities.

                These even include a nuclear power plant at Metsamor, near Yerevan.

                Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, has a majority stake in Armenia's
                gas network. It is also believed to have taken a controlling interest
                recently in a gas pipeline, now under construction, that will link
                Armenia with Iran.

                Russian companies own most of Armenia's telecommunications network,
                while the country's railway system is about to be sold to Russia.

                'Economic backbone'

                In former Soviet times, Armenia was a centre of military-linked
                electronic industries. The majority of these are also now owned by
                Moscow-based companies.

                President Vladimir Putin of Russia and his Armenian counterpart,
                Robert Kocharian, talked of "the truly allied character of the
                Russian-Armenian relationship" at a meeting in August 2007.

                But critics in Armenia accuse President Kocharian and his ministers
                of accumulating vast personal wealth while selling off the country's
                most precious assets to Moscow.

                "The Russians own what is the economic backbone of Armenia," says an
                opposition newspaper.

                "Moscow is in control of virtually all our strategic resources."

                Now, in a complex and little-publicised deal, one of Armenia's
                biggest mining concerns, the Ararat Gold Recovery Company (AGRC),
                has been purchased by Madneuli Resources, a mining company based
                across Armenia's northern border in Georgia.

                Madneuli is ultimately controlled by Industrial Investors, a powerful
                group of Russian financiers headed by Sergei Generalov, a former
                Russian energy minister turned business mogul.

                Disputed terrain

                AGRC has a gold processing facility at Ararat, overlooking the
                majestic, snow-capped mountain of the same name, where Noah and his
                Ark are said to have finally come to rest after the Flood.

                However, AGRC's most valuable asset is a large, open-pit gold mine
                at Zod, in eastern Armenia, close to the border with Azerbaijan.

                Mining experts say Zod has some of the richest gold deposits in the
                Caucasus region.

                In the early 1990s, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a bitter war over
                the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

                More than 25,000 people are estimated to have died in the conflict
                and hundreds of thousands of people on both sides became refugees.

                Nagorno-Karabakh, which has proclaimed independence, is now in effect
                controlled by Armenia.

                Azerbaijan has raised objections with both the Georgian and Russian
                authorities about the purchase of the Zod mine, describing it as

                Azerbaijan says a considerable amount of the Zod mine is in its
                territory, at present occupied by the Armenian military.

                "Any activity in occupied territories without the permission of the
                Azeri authorities is illegal," says Araz Azimov, Azerbaijan's deputy
                foreign minister.

                While a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been in force
                for the past 13 years, there are still frequent outbreaks of fighting
                between the two sides. The border between the two countries remains

                Recently, Azerbaijan is believed to have been using its new-found
                oil and gas wealth to beef up its armed forces.


                The operations of AGRC have often been the subject of controversy. In
                the late 1990s, Azerbaijan protested when AGRC, at the time run by
                a Canadian company, started mining at Zod.

                In 2002, AGRC was taken over by a company controlled by the family
                of Indian mining billionaire Aneel Agarwal. But its operations were
                closed down after the Armenian authorities accused the company of
                reneging on various licensing agreements.

                The company was charged with tax fraud and environmental violations
                and ordered to pay millions of dollars in fines.

                AGRC's Indian owners denied the charges: no details of court rulings
                have been released, but the company was put up for sale earlier
                this year.

                At its headquarters in Ararat, the reprocessing facility is not
                working and the buildings look abandoned.

                Locals are concerned that cyanide, used in the course of processing
                gold, has been polluting land and water.

                They know little about what is going on. Poverty is still widespread
                in Armenia and jobs are scarce.

                "People were promised jobs by the previous owners, but then Indian
                workers were brought in," says Armen Gevorgyan, a local trader.

                "We know the foreigners are after the gold. If the new owners provide
                some work and decent wages, that's the most important thing for us."
                What if I find someone else when looking for you? My soul shivers as the idea invades my mind.


                • #78
                  Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

                  Tech News


                  Noyan Tapan
                  Jan 10, 2008

                  YEREVAN, JANUARY 10, NOYAN TAPAN. "Biotechnology" Scientific Research
                  Institute CJSC of the RA Ministry of Trade and Economic Development
                  has transferred the institute-developed technology of production of
                  proline, a protein amino acid, to French-German company Degussa-Rexim,
                  NT was informed by Gayane Avetisova, the scientific secretary of
                  the institute.

                  According to her, joint work on development of a technology of
                  obtaining another protein amino acid - ornithine is being done with
                  Degussa-Rexim. It is envisaged that after completion of the work,
                  this technology will be also transferred to the French-German company.

                  In the words of the scientific secretary of "Biotechnology", proline
                  and ornithine are used, in particular, for production of various
                  complexes of biologically active supplements.

                  G. Avetisova said that "Biotechnology" continues to supply nonprotein
                  amino acids in small amounts to Acros Organics company (Belgium).



                  Noyan Tapan
                  Nov 22, 2007

                  YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 22, NOYAN TAPAN. The Institute of Chemical Physics
                  (ICP) of the RA National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and two Spanish
                  companies have signed a bilateral agreement, under which they will test
                  the ICP-developed technology of obtaining powder from scrap copper
                  within 6 months, NT correspondent was informed by Suren Kharatian,
                  the head of the ICP laboratory of self-propagating high-temperature
                  synthesis (SHS) kinetics.

                  The institute's partners are Inasmet, an intermediary company on
                  technologies transfer, and SIA Copper cable producing company.

                  According to him, this technology is based on SHS processes and will
                  be tested at two stages. During the first stage, the scrap copper
                  (degreased at SIA Copper) will be processed in the ICP's reactor,
                  after which the obtained cast and powder will be sent to Spain where
                  SIA Copper's experts will check if these substances meet the company's
                  requirements. At the second stage, the same technology will be used on
                  non-degreased scrap copper. The laboratory head expressed an opinion
                  that degreasing can be effectively carried out during the SHS process
                  as well, which will allow to reduce the cost of the technology.

                  S. Kharatian said that if preliminary tests are successful, they will
                  start tests of obtaining pure copper from large amounts of scrap
                  through the SHS process - this time in Spain. It is envisaged that
                  experts of the Institute of Chemical Physics will participate in the
                  creation of a 30-kg reactor at SIA Copper.

                  In the words of S. Kharatian, up to 100 tons of scrap copper form
                  annually at SIA Copper so the company is interested in using it in
                  an efficient way.



                  Noyan Tapan
                  Jan 9, 2008

                  YEREVAN, JANUARY 9, NOYAN TAPAN. "Biotechnology" Scientific Research
                  Institute CJSC operating under the jurisdiction of the RA Ministry
                  of Trade and Economic Development has started selling nitrogen
                  biofertilizer "Azotovit-1", which is produced in small amounts at
                  the institute, to Armenian farms. The scientific secretary of the
                  institute Gayane Avetisova told NT correspondent that the sale is
                  organized through Green Line NGO, which buys this fertilizer and
                  provides it to farms - members of the organization. These farms are
                  mainly engaged in production of organic food.

                  In testing "Azotovit-1", Biotechnology cooperated with Yerevan State
                  University (YSU) and Armenian Tree Project organization.

                  The technical terms of production of "Azotovit-1" were approved
                  by the National Institute of Standards. According to G. Avetisova,
                  Biotechnology has not yet reached agreements with foreign companies
                  on transfer of the nitrogen biofertilizers production technology,
                  while it is inexpedient to build a plant with the envisaged capacity
                  in Armenia for sale in foreign markets.

                  Nitrogen biofertilizers can fully replace chemical nitrogen fertilizer
                  (nitre), which is imported and widely used in Armenia. Unlike chemical
                  one, nitrogen biofertilizer contributes to soil reproduction.

                  The bids for financing the programs on further development of
                  technologies of obtaining nitrogen biofertilizers and soluble
                  melanin conducive to growth of plants have been rejected by
                  the International Scientific and Technical Center. G. Avetisova
                  said that financing would allow, in particular, to develop fully
                  the technology of producing "Azotovit-1" which would create the
                  opportunity to expand production. Besides, financing would allow to
                  patent abroad the technological know-how used in the production of
                  this biofertilizer. Thanks to the use of the know-how, "Azotovit-1"
                  is saturated not only with microorganisms representing a source
                  of nitrogen but also with fertilizing microelements of phosphorus,
                  calcium and potassium.

                  Biotechnology CJSC envisages to patent this know-how in Armenia.

                  The scientific research work on improvement of the technology of
                  obtaining soluble melanin is continuing in cooperation with YSU Chair
                  of Biotechnology and the Institute of Physiology of the RA National
                  Academy of Sciences.

                  During this work, the effect of melanin both on plants and humans is
                  being studied.



                  Noyan Tapan
                  Nov 26 2007

                  YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 26, NOYAN TAPAN. A joint program of the Institute
                  of Chemical Physics (ICP) of the RA National Academy of Sciences
                  (NAS), Notre Dame UNiversity (U.S.) and the Institute of Structural
                  Microkinetics and Material Science Problems of the RF NAS was announced
                  among the winners of the tender of innovation programs recently held
                  in Russia. NT correspondent was informed by Suran Kharatian, head of
                  the ICP self-propagating high-temperature synthesis (SHS) kinetics
                  laboratory and Yerevan State University's chair of chemical physics,
                  that the ICP-developed technology of obtaining silicon carbide powder
                  through a SHS process forms the basis of the joint program of the
                  three scientific institutions.

                  According to S. Kharatian, it is envisaged financing of the above
                  mentioned program from the spring of 2008. As a result of the program's
                  implementation, an experimental plant with the production capacity
                  of 50 tons of silicon carbide a year will be constructed. It was
                  mentioned that scientist of Notre Dame University Alexander Mukasian
                  is one of the program's initiators.

                  The laboratory head said that the annual demand for silicon carbide of
                  "alpha modification" with powder grains of specific size and structure
                  makes several hundred tons but this demand is not met by producers.

                  He reminded that the ICP has provided one of the four
                  electrothermographs, which were designed and made at the institite,
                  to Notre Dame University.

                  This device is used to measure changes in the physical and
                  electric parameters of a subsatnce during SHS processes and for
                  modelling of such processes. At present the ICP is designing
                  a new electrothermograph of the 5th generation for Notre Dame
                  University. Scientists of the RF NAS Institute of Structural
                  Macrokinetics and Material Science Problems (where SHS processes were
                  discovered 40 years ago) also take interest in this device.

                  They recently visited the ICP to see to what extent the
                  electrothermograph of the Armenian institute is in line with
                  requirements of their institute.

                  What if I find someone else when looking for you? My soul shivers as the idea invades my mind.


                  • #79
                    Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

                    The Agriculture Sector: Irrigation (Part I)


                    18.12.2007 14:51

                    Millennium Challenge Account - Armenia SNCO announced the award of a
                    consulting contract to "HayGyughShinNakhagits" Ltd. for the design
                    and construction supervision of six gravity irrigation systems as
                    part of the MCA-Armenia Irrigated Agriculture Project Infrastructure
                    activity. The contract was signed by MCA-Armenia CEO Ara Hovsepyan and
                    "HayGyughShinNakhagits" Ltd. Director Varuzhan Hovasapyan.

                    According to the contract, Consultant should analyze the current
                    water distribution system, irrigated lands, water demand, energy
                    use, other water sources (reservoirs, rivers, tube wells, etc.) and
                    prepare updated water distribution plan, assess the performance of the
                    existing irrigation systems in terms of water efficiency and quality
                    of irrigation service to users, assess rehabilitation needs of the
                    existing distribution systems, evaluate economic rate of return
                    (ERR) of construction works, prepare preliminary and final designs
                    for construction and conduct construction supervision activities.

                    The contract value in AMD is equivalent to USD 904,900. The duration
                    of work will be 37 months.

                    This consulting contract will be used to determine the economic
                    justification and the feasibility for the construction of six gravity
                    irrigation systems which would give an opportunity to eliminate
                    up to 27 pumping stations. These pumping stations were constructed
                    during the 1970s, and since that time no major capital works have
                    been done for renovating the pumps and structures. The construction
                    of six gravity irrigation systems under the MCA-Armenia program,
                    provided that they all meet the economic justification will provide
                    safe water supply to as much as 6,500 ha lands.

                    The six schemes are: Aigezard in Ararat marz, Shenik in Armavir,
                    Ashtarak and Halavar in Aragatsotn, Geghardalich in Kotayk and Spitak
                    in Lori marzes.

                    In total up to 37 rural communities in these marzes - 6 communities of
                    Ararat region, 4 of Armavir region, 11 - of Aragatsotn, 10 - of Lori
                    and 6 communities of Kotayk region will benefit from this activity.



                    Jan 10, 2007

                    YEREVAN, JANUARY 10, ARMENPRESS: Millennium Challenge Account -
                    Armenia SNCO announced the award of a civil works contract to
                    "AGAT-777" LLC for rehabilitation of tertiary canals in Abovian,
                    Arevshat and Lanjazat communities of Ararat marz and Griboyedov
                    community of Armavir marz under the Irrigated agriculture project.

                    The contract was signed at MCA-Armenia SNCO office by MCA-Armenia
                    CEO Ara Hovsepian and "AGAT-777" LLC Director Aghvan Karapetian.

                    According to the contract, "AGAT-777" LLC should: construct canals
                    from reinforced concrete flumes; construct steel pipelines from
                    pipes of various diameter; prepare and install flat steel gates,
                    paint steel structures, and arrange joints.

                    The contract value is 116,862,152 AMD. The communities mentioned
                    above have contributed 15% of the overall construction costs. They
                    are being served by Aknalich and Azat Water Users Associations. The
                    duration of works will be 6 months.

                    This construction project will ensure reliable irrigation to an area
                    of about 70 ha and rehabilitation of 1,100 meters of tertiary canal
                    in Abovian community, 110 ha and 448 meters of canal in Arevshat
                    community, 230 ha and 3,249 meters of canal in Griboyedov community,
                    and 50 ha and 1,706 meters of canal in Lanjazat community.

                    Overall, MCA-Armenia program will invest US$ 108 million into
                    rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure in Armenia, including up
                    to 68 pumping stations, 7 reservoirs, 6 main canals, 18 gravity schemes
                    as well as up to up to 300 km of tertiary canals in the rural areas.

                    Millennium Challenge Account-Armenia (MCA-Armenia), a State Non
                    Commercial Organization established by the Government of Armenia,
                    is responsible for overseeing the transparent implementation of the
                    Compact signed between the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the
                    Government of Armenia.



                    Noyan Tapan
                    Jan 8, 2008

                    YEREVAN, JANUARY 8, NOYAN TAPAN. All reservoirs of Armenia will be
                    repaired soon under two programs on safety of irrigation bulwarks,
                    which are financed by the World Bank. NT correspondent was informed
                    by Karen Grigorian, engineer of the RA Irrigation Systems Restoration
                    Program Implementation Office that 26 reservoirs have already been
                    repaired with 30.3 million dollars allocated under the WB first program
                    in 2000. The work on repairs of Marmarik reservoir will finish in
                    late 2009.

                    K. Grigorian said that primary restoration of 47 bulwarks is being
                    done by the second 7.5 million dollar program of the World Bank. The
                    program will be completed in March 2009. The total capacity of these
                    reservoirs is 1.4 billion cubic meters.

                    According to him, under the Millennium Challenge Program, two
                    reservoirs - "Artik" and "Kaps" will be repaired and five new ones:
                    "Vardenut", "Argichi", "Lernapar", "Bagravan" and "Lichk" will
                    be built.



                    Noyan Tapan
                    Dec 04 2007

                    YEREVAN, DECEMBER 4, NOYAN TAPAN. The RA National Assembly on December
                    4 ratified the Agreement on Additional Financing of the Program on
                    Development of the Irrigaion Systems signed between the Republic of
                    Armenia and the International Development Association of the World
                    Bank on September 19, 2007. In accordance with this agreement, Armenia
                    will receive a 5 million-dollar credit with a 0.75% interest rate on
                    concessional terms. The credit is to be repaid in 2018-2027. It will be
                    used to develop intraeconomic networks of Armenia's irrigation system.



                    DeFacto Agency, Armenia
                    Nov 21 2007

                    Total area of irrigated lands is to exceed 8, 000 hectares in the
                    Nagorno-Karabakh Republic by 2010.

                    According to the information DE FACTO got at the NKR government's press
                    office, it had been stated at a sitting held at the government today.

                    Republic PM Ara Harutyunian presented priority directions of state
                    policy in the sphere, according to which existing water-supply system
                    is to be put into operation within shortest possible time, medium and
                    large irrigation objects are to be restored and new ones to be built.

                    Next year the works will be mainly implemented in the Askeran and
                    Martakert region within the frames of the governmental program. In
                    2008 the irrigated lands' area will be enlarged by 2, 000 hectares.

                    The water will be supplied to the land users only after signing
                    corresponding agreements.

                    What if I find someone else when looking for you? My soul shivers as the idea invades my mind.


                    • #80
                      Re: Armenia's Economic Pulse

                      The Agriculture Sector: Financing (Part II)


                      Jan 9, 2008

                      ROME, JANUARY 9, ARMENPRESS; A new US$32.2 million Farmer Market
                      Access Program in Armenia, supported by a US$ 11.9 million loan and a
                      US$500,000 grant from International Fund for Agricultural Development
                      (IFAD), will provide innovative financing for poor rural and peri-urban
                      people to develop profitable on-farm and off-farm small businesses.

                      IFAD said in a press release that the program will provide loans to
                      people who develop rural microenterprises that have the potential
                      for rapid growth but are held back because they can't qualify for
                      conventional bank loans.

                      The loan agreement was signed January 8 at IFAD headquarters by IFAD's
                      President Lennart Bage and Armenia's Ambassador Extraordinary and
                      Plenipotentiary to Italy Ruben Shougarian.

                      The OPEC Fund for International Development will co-finance the program
                      for US$10 million. Other co-financiers will contribute US$2 million;
                      the Government of Armenia US$5 million; participating financial
                      institutions US$900,000; and project participants US$2 million.

                      "Once they are able to access credit, poor rural producers will
                      have many more opportunities to develop profitable and commercially
                      viable products and services all along the market value chain," said
                      Henning Pedersen, IFAD's country program manager for Armenia. "More
                      rural enterprises will also mean new jobs for people who have not
                      been able to find work."

                      The programmer's main financing instrument will be a venture capital
                      fund - the Fund for Rural Economic Development in Armenia (FREDA) -
                      which represents an innovation for both rural Armenia and IFAD.

                      Those applying for financing under the program will have to show
                      that their enterprise will foster sustainable income growth among
                      the program's target groups, which include farmers and unemployed,
                      under-employed and self-employed people. Applicants for FREDA support
                      who engage women as suppliers and employees will be given preference.

                      The program will also help participants gain access to the knowledge,
                      technology and infrastructure they need to enable them to profit from
                      domestic and export markets.

                      Improved access to roads, small-scale irrigation and village gas
                      supplies are also part of the program.

                      Participants will contribute a minimum of 10 per cent in cash or in
                      kind to overall infrastructure costs, and participate in infrastructure
                      design, supervision, operation and maintenance.

                      IFAD has financed five programs and projects in Armenia since 1995,
                      investing a total of US$64.2 million. IFAD investments in the country
                      support poor farm families so they can produce a surplus to be sold
                      for additional income. Small- and medium-scale rural service providers
                      such as traders, processors and suppliers also are targeted for support
                      because of their important role as links between farmers and markets.

                      IFAD was created 30 years ago to tackle rural poverty, a key cause
                      of the droughts and famines of the early 1970s. Since 1978, IFAD
                      has invested almost US$10 billion in low-interest loans and grants
                      that have helped more than 300 million very poor rural women and men
                      increase their incomes and provide for their families.

                      IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized
                      United Nations agency. It is a unique partnership of OECD, OPEC
                      and other developing countries. Today, IFAD supports more than 200
                      programs and projects in 84 developing countries.



                      Noyan Tapan
                      Dec 03 2007

                      YEREVAN, DECEMBER 3, NOYAN TAPAN. The 18 million-dollar project
                      on Armenian Agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Market
                      Development has provided assistance to Armenian SMEs, particularly
                      those engaged in food processing, for over 7 years, the project
                      director Gary Kilmer stated at the opening ceremony of the exhibition
                      of production Armenian SMEs on December 3. According to him, more than
                      500 farms have received assistance under this project, with the total
                      amount of their export and domestic sale making 55 million dollars
                      over these years.

                      The U.S. charge d'affaires in Armenia Joseph Pennington said that
                      a greater growth in the Armenian economy will be registered in case
                      of agribusiness' development. In his opinion, a number of programs
                      should be worked out in this direction in Armenia, and if the private
                      sector is promoted, Armenia will also develop.

                      The director of the Yeghvard yeast factory Arsen Khachatrian informed
                      those present that new workshops have been built and modern conveyers
                      have been installed at the factory with 41 thousand dollars invested
                      under the SME program. In his words, in 2000, their production made up
                      10% of the domestic market, whereas in 2007 - 75%. Dry and wet yeast
                      produced by their factory is now exported to Ukraine and Georgia,
                      and it is envisaged to start exporting it to Iran in the near future.

                      During the opening ceremony, G. Kilmer was presented with a gold
                      medal of the RA ministry of agriculture.



                      Noyan Tapan
                      Nov 8, 2007

                      YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 8, NOYAN TAPAN. This year the RA ministry of
                      agriculture has implemented a pilot subsidizing program in 15 Armenian
                      communities. The head of the ministry's plant growing development and
                      plant protection department Garnik Petrosian said at the November 8
                      press conference that thanks to this program, areas sown with cultured
                      planst were increased by 700-800 ha in these communities as compared
                      with last year. According to him, lands of the total area of 4,948
                      ha were subsidized: 35 thousand drams (about 106 dollars) was given
                      for each hectare. 903 economic entities were included in the program.

                      G. Petrosian said that in 2008, it is envisaged to allocate over
                      1.6 billion drams for subsidizing - against 165 million drams in
                      2007. Under next year's program, the number of beneficiaries will
                      make about 50 thousand, while the area of lands to be subsidized -
                      46 thousand ha.

                      What if I find someone else when looking for you? My soul shivers as the idea invades my mind.