Former prime minister says dram’s exchange rate against USD to reach 450 in summer

19.03.2010 15:11
Former prime minister says dram’s exchange rate against USD to reach 450 in summer

YEREVAN, March 19, /ARKA/. Former prime minister Hrant Bagratian predicted today that the renewed depreciation of Armenia's national currency, the dram, which began last month, will continue and the dram will be trading at 450 per one USD by the mid-summer.

One dollar traded at 405 drams on Thursday at the close of trading at Yerevan's NASDAQ OMX Armenia stock exchange, losing two points from Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference, Hrant Bagratian, who served in the administration of ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosian, blamed the accelerated depreciation on wealthy Armenian businessmen who he said have been taking large amounts of foreign currency outside the country. In March 1-18 the dram lost 19.82 points weakening from 384.5 to 405.

Hrant Bagratian said the short-term effect of the depreciation will be the growing inflation rate, but he added that the government will try to attract funds from external sources to stabilize the exchange rate, but that would only increase the foreign debt burden that may result in economic catastrophe in 2013.

Armenia’s government foreign debt last year grew by 88.1% from the year before to almost $3 billion. Bagratian said if this trend continues Armenia may have a double-digit inflation. The 2010 February inflation rose by 0.3% from January. The year-on-year inflation in February was 9.4%. ($1-404.36 Drams).  -0-


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