YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"We will be able to finally resolve the reconstruction of homes in the earthquake zone by the year 2001," stated president Robert Kocharian following a visit to the zone Thursday.
Kocharian expressed satisfaction for the construction projects and activities in the earthquake zone–as well as the flow of funds earmarked for reconstruction efforts in the region.
He also added the allocation of funds to the earthquake zone projects will be maintained to a level that each year the volume of construction would be double that of the previous year–adding that earmarked funds for the next fiscal year have already been safeguarded.
Kocharian stressed that aside from the amounts allocated for construction in the national budget–there were other sources of funds–including a $15 million allocation by Kirk Kerkorian–as well as projects and allocations made by other countries.
The release of those funds–totaling $8.5 million–from the Russian-based Vneshekonbank is already in process.
Kocharian explained it was estimated that this year between 3 to 4 billion drams worth of construction was expected in the Lori region. In Gumri–the president added–5.5 billion drams were expected to be spent on construction projects.
Kocharian estimated that the national budget would see an increase of 15 to 16 times the current amount for the Lori region (70 million drams were allocated for Lori and already 450 million has been spent in the first half of 1998).
The president stated that last year the entire earthquake zone reconstruction project was reviewed and added that the government had concluded that city centers would be the foremost targets–around which smaller cities and village would be reconstructed or begun anew.
Kocharian reported that in Gumri last year seven buildings were built providing homes for twice as many families than it was estimated for that cost.
He also added that only through budget allocation 27 buildings were under construction in the center of Gumri.
Kocharian concluded that in the next month or month and a half the entire earthquake zone reconstruction program would be reviewed and new guidelines would be drafted for the implementation of those programs.
Furthermore–the reconstruction projects for lateral areas and villages would also be reconfigured.