YEREVAN (News.am)–Half of Armenia’s population lives in abject poverty, despite a recent report from the World Bank detailing a much lower figure, according to Artsvik Minasyan, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s faction in parliament.
Earlier this week the World Bank released a report partly based on government statistics that estimated the proportion of Armenians living below the official poverty line had increased for the first time in over a decade as a result of the ongoing economic recession. The report, which detailed a nearly 7 percent increase from last year, put the figure at 28.4 percent in the second quarter of this year.
In an interview with News.am published Wednesday, Minasyan disputed the figure, saying “the number of poor people is much higher” in Armenia.
The parliament deputy explained that if the minimum social security allowance provided by the government were not considered, the poverty level in the country would be 50 percent.
Minasyan pointed to the possibility of worsening social tensions and a spike in homelessness as reasons for the government to revamp its anti-crisis program and increase social spending to help the poor.
“Social tension will grow, and more homeless people and beggars will appear in the streets,” Minasyan said, warning of the consequences if nothing is done by the government to address the crisis.
According to Minasyan, the segment of society living below the poverty line includes migrants who failed to find jobs, as well as small businessmen, who came under administrative pressure and went bankrupt, as well as employees, whose wages are insufficient for their families.
The Armenian Government earlier this year announced what Minasyan described as a “defective” anti-crisis program to address the consequences of the financial meltdown in Armenia.
The government, however, failed to properly implement the program, he noted, explaining that the government’s supported of entrenched oligarchic interests over consumers contributed to its inability to ensure micro and macro economic stability.