In January – February 2012, the number of people leaving Armenia surpassed arrivals by 14.4 thousand, which is 20% more year-over-year. The number of those who leave Armenia is said to reach 60,000 annually.
The government developed a migration strategy four years ago to encourage repatriation and reduce emigration. However, judging by the increasing data, the strategy didn’t help.
The government explains emigration by economic problems and states that the process will stop as soon as the economy of the country starts growing. There is no significant growth yet so emigration keeps increasing.
The government is not worried about this because remittances are growing as well comprising almost 20% of the GDP. In 2011, the transfers amounted to USD 1,960,000 which is up by 330,000 compared with 2010.
Answering the question what the government does to encourage repatriation, the head of the State Migration Service Gagik Yeganyan said the website “Back to Home” was created as part of the strategy. Those who want to return can get the answers to their questions on the website.
What investments can they make here and what business can they do? Are these people welcome in Armenia? What must be done for a permission to move to Armenia? Maybe it is necessary to change tax policy and improve investment climate? Or maybe, as the IMF specialists say, the tax and customs officers need to improve their relations with businesses?
These steps had to be addressed by the migration strategy instead of creation of websites. Those who want to return will not search the web, they will rather ask their colleagues whether it is worth going to Armenia and whether they can do business there, make investments, whether they need a “roof”, how guests are treated here.
This year the number of Iranians visiting Armenia to celebrate their new year halved. Prior to their arrival, local hotels and private traders boosted prices on everything so that the Iranians preferred staying at home. How is it possible to boost immigration if we even destroy the natural conditions for tourism?
Serzh Sargsyan is in Singapore now which is famous for its liberal business environment. But this environment was created by their own decision. People understood that they will starve unless they agree not to rob, not to create hindrances and to support business. They agreed. The Armenians are fine without this.