Runaway Inflation in Armenia Creates Dangerous Situation for Overwhelming Majority

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YEREVAN — Inflation in Armenia continues to accelerate. The 12-month rate of inflation in the country was 9.6 percent, according to a report published by the Statistical Committee of the Armenian government. In the last quarter, all goods and services have become more expensive compared to the same period last year.

Inflation in the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages grew 16.9 percent in November compared to the same month the previous year. This was greatly facilitated by the 4.8 percent and 16.4 percent respective rise in prices for fruits and vegetables.

Inflation was 63.5 percent for vegetables as compared to November of the previous year. In particular, in November, compared to October, registered a significantly greater rise in the prices of potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, green beans and green onions.

Fruit prices rose by 3.3 percent in November this year compared to the previous year, and by 4.8 percent compared to October this year. In November of this year, as compared to October, the general inflation of fruit and vegetable products was 11.35 percent. The above-mentioned product groups, having a share of 8.35 percent in the consumer basket, contributed to the growth of the general level of consumer prices by 0.9 percentage points during the mentioned period.

Cheese and eggs prices rose 13.3 percent compared to November last year. In November of this year, compared to the previous year, the price of eggs increased by 26.2 percent, cheese by 11.1 percent, meat by 8.0 percent, oils and fats by 21.1 percent, and sugar by 20.6 percent.

Compared to the previous year, non-food prices rose by 9.9 percent. In November of this year, compared to October, the prices of gasoline and diesel fuel increased by 3.2 percent and 3.1 percent respectively. Compared to the beginning of November last year, the price of gasoline increased by 48.1 percent and diesel fuel by 53.1 percent.

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The Statistical Committee singled out clothes and shoes in the list of non-food products, which in November of this year, compared to the same month of the previous year, increased by 12.1 percent in price.

Items for household use and household appliances became more expensive by 8.7 percent, and transportation by 8.5 percent. Health services have risen in price by 4.5 percent and the prices of restaurants and hotels by 4.7 percent.

Rise in Prices Poses a Threat to Armenian Population

“The official statistics on price increases do not inspire confidence. We see faster increases prices in real life,” worried Armen Poghosyan, chairman of the Consumers’ Association of Armenia, a non-government organization. According to him, about 80 percent of the income of the population goes towards food and public services.

Armen Poghosyan

“It turns out that people cannot use other necessary goods, while man was not born only to consume food or shoes. If we see in the consumer basket or family expenses that the expenditures for cultural life are 0 drams, this was not living. This was consuming or simply existing,” he said.

Touching upon the rise in water prices and possible increase in gas tariffs, Poghosyan noted that in the West, when it comes to public services and, for example, it is necessary to increase gas prices, the supplier presents his reasons, NGOs present their arguments, and the state commission, listening to both sides, finds an optimal solution. In Armenia, however, he said that everything is done differently. The voice of non-governmental organizations is generally not so audible.

“The supplier presents his rationale to us, the commission presents its reasoning, and they also listen to our argumentation, but none of this has any impact,” said Poghosyan. He remarked that the increase of water tariffs and later, gas tariffs, will cause additional financial burdens for people.

According to Poghosyan, there is a class of people in Armenia that composes 10-12 percent of the population, for which it does not matter how much the price of water or any service or product will increase.

“The other 88-90 percent either find a way somehow to get by, or are in a terrible condition, and think about leaving the country. It is not surprising that 100,000 people have already left the country this year. We always hear positive numbers, especially that 6 percent economic growth is expected, which is a fairy tale. In the post-war situation, 6-7 percent growth is not even theoretically possible. People are misled by those numbers,” concluded Poghosyan.

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