YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The World Bank (WB) is going to lend more than $60 million to programs of rural road rehabilitation in Armenia, its Yerevan representative announced on Friday.
The announcement came two days after the United States effectively slashed nearly a third of its $235.6 million aid program for Armenia, in particular the part of the projects concerning the reconstruction of about 1,000 kilometers of rural roads, citing the Armenian government’s deteriorated human rights record and democratic practices.
To RFE/RL’s question whether the WB planned either a partially or full funding of the road repairs that had been envisaged but terminated under the Millennium Challenge Account program, Aristomene Varoudakis, head of the World Bank office in Yerevan, said: “We have already started the implementation of a rural road rehabilitation project for $25 million and we are planning to do additional financing for perhaps $36 million, to start as soon as possible but perhaps not before the next construction season.”
Varoudakis also said that the WB had worked out a new strategy of partnership with Armenia for the next four years whereby a total of $670-700 million will be provided to the country. The announced amount is about $100 million less than earlier stated by the WB.
Speaking about the immediate prospects of the Armenian economy in conditions of the continuing global economic crisis, the head of the WB office in Yerevan said: “Economic contraction [at the end of this year] will be at around 9-9.5 percent. We expect that next year will see a growth at around 1.5-2 percent.”
Varoudakis also said that growth is likely to quicken in 2011-12 depending on the global economic situation.