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Financial Sector

The global economic and financial crisis in 2008 adversely affected the financial sector of Armenia. While it has largely recovered and the banking sector has stabilized, it remains small and unsophisticated by regional and international standards. Financial intermediation has deepened since 2009 due to the efforts of the Central Bank with support from IMF and USAID. Yet, Armenian banks offer a limited range of products and services for businesses. Access to finance is one of the biggest constraints enterprises cite in annual surveys as banks have tightened the lending criteria and rather focus on existing clients and larger corporations. In customs, businesses complain of procedural bureaucracy, corruption in imports, and extensive small payments to expedite exports.

USAID assistance in the financial sector is targeted at decreasing onerous regulations, improving access to finance for small and medium enterprises and addressing inefficiencies in tax and customs administration. In partnership with the Ministry of Finance and the State Revenue Committee, USAID will facilitate tax and customs compliance, improve the government’s capacity to formulate tax policy and manage tax appeals, and enhance the discourse between the tax and customs authorities and citizens on critical issues. At the same time, USAID will work with select financial institutions, capital markets, and the insurance industry to increase financial intermediation and offer a broader array of financial services and products. Within selected value chains and rural areas, USAID’s efforts will improve SMEs’ financial management, business planning capacity, and awareness of different financing and investment options. Recognizing that women entrepreneurs play an important role in SMEs, USAID will ensure that access to finance for women is also facilitated.

CURRENT PROGRAM

The Tax Reform Project (TRP) works to increase business competitiveness in Armenia through reducing tax compliance burden for individuals and businesses. The project assists the State Revenue Committee and the Ministry of Finance to improve tax policies and tax administration procedures, as well as strengthen their human and institutional capacity to provide better and more efficient taxpayer services. TRP also supports the development of an institutionalized and effective public-private dialogue between the tax authorities and taxpayers.

The Finance for Economic Development (FED) project enhances the efficiency and technical capacity of Armenian financial institutions to provide services and financing to enterprises in rural and urban areas of Armenia. The project supports policy and regulatory reforms that will help improve the financial environment and increase access to credit for small and medium enterprises toward broader economic growth. FED helps develop the human and institutional capacity of the financial sector, including banking and credit, accounting, auditing, insurance and actuarial occupations. FED also promotes Armenia’s pension reform through strengthening the country’s capital markets and providing sound local investments for pension contributions.

As part of the Grant Agreement with the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA), USAID assists the CBA to develop a regional finance and economic research and training center, conduct a feasibility study for an asset manager, and summarize best practices in settlement and payment systems.

Through the Grant Agreement with the Ministry of Finance of Armenia, USAID provides technical assistance to the Ministry to improve their human resource management. USAID will also help streamline certification and licensing functions of the Ministry and gradually transfer these responsibilities to a professional accounting and auditing association.

Last updated: May 14, 2014

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