Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian accused several Armenian government ministries on Thursday of misusing loans disbursed to Armenia by international lending institutions and the World Bank in particular.
Sarkisian cited and expressed serious concern about the findings of the Armenian parliament’s Audit Chamber submitted to his staff.
The oversight chamber has inspected the use of World Bank loans by the ministries of labor and social affairs, local government and economy. It concluded that they are wasting a large part of that money through suspicious procurement tenders.
“We acquire equipment and services at unacceptably high prices,” Sarkisian said during a weekly meeting of his cabinet. “Formally, everyone is right and nobody is committing any abuses. But the Audit Chamber has done a number of verifications.”
In particular, he said, the chamber found that the cost of equipment purchased for one Armenian research institute is twice higher than its prices available on the Internet.
The premier did not say whether he thinks the alleged inefficiency was the result of corruption within the ministries spending World Bank loans.
Sarkisian also stated that a disproportionately high share of external loans to Armenia has been spent on consulting services provided by foreign experts chosen by Western donors. He said most of their reports, counseling and other input has proved to be of little use in the country.
“Distinguished colleagues, I think that starting from today we must stop receiving technical assistance at the expense of credit resources,” he told ministries. “Our ministries have sufficient intellectual capacity to carry out analyses on their own in all fields. We must exclude the use of credit resources for expert reports and opinions.”
“No [lending] program that requires us to receive such consulting will be submitted to the World Bank without the prime minister’s consent,” he said. “We have already suspended a number of such consulting applications.”