YEREVAN (ARKA)—A 9 percent reduction in the price of Russian natural gas supplied to Armenia is unlikely to have any serious positive impact on the Armenian economy, economy minister Artsvik Minasyan said today.
The agreement to reduce the price for Armenia was signed by the chief of Russia’s Gazprom giant, Alexei Miller, and deputy energy minister Anatoly Yanovsky with Armenian officials in Yerevan during Russian prime minister Medvedev’s visit to Armenia earlier this month.
After the Russian-Armenian talks, Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan told reporters that the wholesale price of Russian gas for Armenia fell from $165 to $150 per thousand cubic meters, however, he would not say whether the price for Armenian consumers would also go down by 9 percent. “We will discuss this issue with relevant bodies and inform our fellow citizens,” he said.
“Any decline in prices is positive, but in this case, a $15 drop can not be considered a serious help to reduce the prime cost of Armenian goods,’ Minasyan told reporters today.
Concerning a possible change in the tariff for end consumers, the minister said the question falls within the competence of the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) that can start appropriate proceedings on its own initiative or on the basis of an operator application.
“At this moment I have no information that an application was submitted to PSRC for the revision of the tariff, ‘ Minasyan said.
Russia is the main supplier of natural gas to Armenia, delivered by transit through the territory of Georgia.
In addition to gas prices decreasing, Armenia’s jewelry and diamond processing industry is expected to see a more than 30% growth in 2016, Minasyan added, recalling that in 2015, 14.6 billion drams worth jewelry goods were sold. He said if this growth rate continues, in the next three or four years this industry will reach the mid-2000s’ indicators.
He also recalled that in 1970 the total volume of diamond processing in Armenia amounted to 140,000 carats per year, falling to 80,000 carats in the 2000s.
“I want to note that the 30% increase is not so great. Today’s figures are 10 times lower of what we had in the 2000s. Besides, Russia’s precious metals and gems repository Gokhran is opening today its warehouses, which means that our factories will be able to import higher quality diamonds, ‘”said Minasyan.
“For the development of this industry such factors as currency exchange rates, availability of skilled specialists, a platform for the sale of polished diamonds, proper branding and marketing are very important. Armenia-processed diamonds are very competitive in the world,’ Minasyan said.
According to the National Statistical Service, the jewelry production output increased by 61% in 2015 to over 18 billion drams. Nine diamond cutting companies employ a total of 400 people. In 2015, some 152,456.5 carats of diamonds worth about $ 37.1 million were imported to Armenia.