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ArmeniaLiberty: Armenia, World Bank Agree On New Loans

By Atom Markarian

The Armenian government obtained on Wednesday a long-awaited $20 million loan payment from the World Bank and reached agreement with bank officials on the release of more such funds next year.

The World Bank spokesman in Yerevan, Vigen Sargsian, told RFE/RL that the final tranche of the SAC-4 budgetary credit was disbursed on Tuesday and reached Armenia the next day.

The money will allow the government to carry out all expenditures envisaged by its 2002 budget. Its disbursement was repeatedly postponed over delays in the privatization of Armenian power utilities demanded by the World Bank. The latter agreed to unblock the funds after Yerevan addressed its misgivings about the handling of last August’s international tender for the Armenian Electricity Network.

Sargsian said Armenian officials and a visiting World Bank mission have successfully concluded two-week talks on the terms of the next SAC loan worth roughly $40 million. He said the mission will recommend the bank’s board of directors to approve its first $20 million installment next month.

The SAC-5 funds are included in the government’s 2003 budget projections.

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