By Armen Zakarian
The Armenian agency for state procurements said on Wednesday it has purchased 11.2 billion drams ($20 million) worth of goods and services on a competitive basis in the first nine months of this year or about twice as more as in 2001. Its director, Gagik Khachatrian, said the increase means that the government has saved more budgetary funds earmarked for the normal functioning of its various institutions.
The body began its work in August 2000 several months after the passage by the Armenian parliament of legislation regulating the government’s procurement operations. Under that law the new agency has to handle any government purchase worth more than $500 by choosing the cheapest contractor from a host of bidders.
Khachatrian said it has since been stepping up its activities with the ultimate aim of covering all state transactions.
But with the annual amount of state procurements estimated at more than $150 million, the agency still has a long way to go in fulfilling its mission. Khachatrian attributed the relatively small volume of procurement biddings to a “lack of experience.” He claimed that all the biddings have been fair and transparent.
According to the official figures, payment for various services commissioned by the government is the single biggest item in the agency’s expenditures. It totalled just over 2 billion drams in the first half of 2002, followed by 1.5 billion drams spent on food products for schools, orphanages, and other state-run institutions. Some 1.3 billion drams was channelled into reconstruction work in the country’s northern regions devastated by the 1988 earthquake.