WORLD BANK PLANS TO ACCELERATE ALLOCATION OF LOANS TO ARMENIA TO HELP BOOST SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESSES

ARKA
Sep 1, 2009

YEREVAN, September 1, /ARKA/. Head of World Bank (WB) Yerevan Office,
Aristomene Varoudais, told a Monday news conference that the WB plans
to accelerate allocation of loans to Armenia to help it boost small
and medium-sized businesses. He said the global financial and economic
crisis is forcing all of us to seek non-standard solutions.

He reminded that the World Bank Board of Directors had approved in
February the US$25 million Lifeline Roads Improvement Project for
Armenia, aimed to upgrade selected sections of the lifeline road
network and create temporary employment in road construction; then
it approved a $50 million Access to Finance for Small and Medium
Enterprises (AFSME) loan program, designed to help the Armenian
Government to strengthen access to finance for SME borrowers and
improve the resilience of Armenia's private and financial sectors in
the face of the impacts of the global financial crisis.

In late July the World Bank approved a US$30 million Irrigation
Rehabilitation Emergency Project (IREP) for Armenia aimed to improve
water use efficiency. It was followed by approval of a $25 million
Armenia Second Education Quality and Relevance Project designed to
help enhance and facilitate learning in general education and improve
the readiness of children who are entering primary education.

According to=2 0World Bank Yerevan Office head, the Development Policy
Operation loan for Armenia in the amount of US$60 million was very
important. It was aimed to help the government to mitigate the impact
of the global economic crisis and meet its social spending targets.

On June 12 the World Bank Board of Directors approved a new Country
Partnership Strategy (CPS) with Armenia, which provides the framework
guiding for the World Bank's assistance to Armenia for 2009-2012.

This Strategy, prepared at a time when Armenia was rocked by the global
economic crisis, is intended to assist it to resume growth and reduce
the impacts of the crisis on the poor. It also aims to help Armenia
lay the foundation for a more competitive economy--a key requirement
for diversified and sustainable growth. Within the frameworks of this
new strategy the World Bank will provide Armenia with $545 million in
loans, twice as much as it extended in 2004-2008. Some $150 million
of the sum will be extended at IDA privileged terms, the rest of
$395 will be provided at the International Bank of Reconstruction
and Development terms for countries with medium GDP.

Besides, the International Financial Corporation, a member of World
Bank Group, will extend an additional loan of $120-160 million to
private Armenian companies.