On July 29, 2015, AmCham organized a breakfast meeting with Ms. Laura Bailey, World Bank Country Manager for Armenia. Over 20 AmCham members were present at the event that took place in the Pizzeria Mediterraneo of the Best Western Congress Hotel Yerevan.
AmCham Executive Director, Mrs. Diana Gaziyan welcomed the guests, and introduced Ms. Laura Bailey to the AmCham members.
During the meeting Ms. Bailey spoke about the ongoing programs of the World Bank aimed at improving the business climate in Armenia. She spoke about the economic situation in Armenia, the recent economic developments, and how these developments influence the business atmosphere in Armenia. Ms. Bailey talked about the challenges that Armenia faces, and possible solutions to boost the country’s ability to reduce poverty and ensure economic growth and prosperity shared among all.
One of the most important matters, Ms. Bailey spoke, is the need for the Armenian Government to develop strategies for business development in Armenia.
The World Bank programs have significant influence on the recovery and long-term development on the economy. But, ‘’ The Armenian Government has to push the frontier for the Armenians to stay and do business in here’’, mentions Ms. Bailey. To scale up growth and its development prospects, Armenia needs to implement reforms, to improve the business environment and attract investments.
The guest's speech was followed by a question and answer session, regarding both the overall situation in Armenia and the possible developments in the business atmosphere.
The participants engaged in a discussion concerning the challenges that the companies face while doing business in Armenia. The discussion included matters concerning the developments in agriculture, mining, hospitality and tax code in Armenia.
’WB tends to focus on roads that connect agricultural sectors. As well as there is focus on the transformation of the health infrastructure in Armenia. There is a need to build a network with updated equipment, trained doctors and nurses”, said Ms. Bailey.
Anahit Tantushyan from The Hyatt place, raised a question concerning the hospitality sector and possible developments in this sector, as recently Armenia has lost 5 big airline companies, and currently too many hotels are opening, and its going to be hard for the business development in this sector. And this is one the main issues.
To this Ms. Bailey’s answer was,
“The main problem for Armenia is that it has only one market with Russia, so in order to have possible developments in the sphere, Armenian Government has to find solutions for promoting and branding Armenia as a tourist attraction. The Government has been rather unsuccessful in this. That’s one of the main problems’’.
The guests made comments concerning fiscal space and tax code in Armenia. The WB works with the Government to help with the tax code to make the necessary changes. Some changes are really necessary as the system is highly unfair currently and not transparent. Some firms don’t pay taxes at all.
The NGOs weren’t left aside either. Ms. Laura Bailey commented that the WB is often criticized for not being focused on NGOs. The problem is that very few NGOs are engaged to build the capacity for conversation with the Government, NGOs are not technically competent. Armenia lacks advocacy NGOs, so that the Government takes them serious.
As a result of the meeting, Ms. Bailey assured the representatives of AmCham member-companies, that WB will continue working with the authorities to improve the business atmosphere in Armenia, as well as staff skills to have better regulation and implementation reality in place. In this regard, WB looks forward for closer cooperation with AmCham in Armenia as one of the most dynamic business associations in the country.
These, as well as some other matters discussed, made the meeting very informative, and the informal atmosphere, accompanied by the special breakfast menu from the Pizzeria Mediterraneo, made the event even more interesting.