Scarce public funds in Armenia are not systematically wasted or misused because of corruption, the government insisted on Monday in response to a critical report released by a parliamentary body.
“We cannot agree with opinions and evaluations that during the execution of the state budget there is a large-scale waste of money and the main budgetary processes involve manifestations of large-scale corruption,” Deputy Prime Minister Armen Gevorgian told the Armenian parliament.
Gevorgian spoke during a continuing parliamentary discussion of an annual report by the National Assembly’s Audit Chamber that was presented to lawmakers last week. The chamber alleged serious abuses in the administration of procurements by various government agencies. Police launched criminal proceedings against one of those agencies as a result.
The allegations were picked up by not only opposition deputies but also their government colleagues and speaker Hovik Abrahamian in particular. “I am simply amazed and think that the prime minister must take serious steps,” Abrahamian said.
Opposition deputies were unconvinced by Gevorgian’s assurances. One of them, Nikol Pashinian, pointed out that President Serzh Sarkisian berated officials handling procurement tenders during a government session last September. Some of those officials were prosecuted or sacked.
“If you refute the Audit Chamber [claims] you should also refute what Serzh Sarkisian said,” Pashinian told Gevorgian.
The vice-premier clarified that he is not denying the chamber’s claims. He said he only wants to assure the parliament that the waste of budgetary resources is not a pattern.