ArmInfo. The problems in Armenia's procurement sphere have never been conditioned by the existence of gaps in the legislation. The roots of problems lie in law enforcement practice. The economist, chairman of the NGO "National Research Center of Public Policy" Artak Manukyan stated in an interview with ArmInfo correspondent, commenting on the cardinal changes in the sphere of legislative regulation of the procurement system that started in April 2017.
According to the expert, Armenia had the best legislation in the field of procurement until April 2017. In 2011 it was brought into line with the best procurement standards of the World Trade Organization. In addition, according to the expert, speaking of his reformist intentions in the field of procurement, the government behaved not completely to the end. "The adoption of the new law was also conditioned by membership in the EAEU, so the authorities tried to ensure the harmonization of the national legislation, both with the WTO norms and the EAEU," he said.
Nevertheless, the expert is sure that the task to this day is impunity and the authorities have no will to destroy quasi-monopolies. The head of the NGO is sure that from April 25 until today no company, due to concealment of the fact of affiliation with the state official, or information about the real owner of the company, fell into the so-called "black list". "You can talk incessantly about the desire to identify the affiliation of the company participating in the tender with officials and the purposes to disclose the real owners. But if you continue to look through your fingers to see how the owner further artificially splits one company into many dwarfs, will not move from the dead center," he said. As Artak Manukyan assures, for today purchases from one person continue to remain the Achilles' heel of the whole sphere. The expert does not believe in official statistics, which says a multiple reduction in the number of purchases under this procedure. "The procurement of the three main state structures that carry out protocol purchases from one person - the presidential apparatus, the National Assembly and the government, was called secret information by virtue of the law." Thus, the authorities improved statistics by one movement of the pen," Manukyan explained, urging not to forget that formally sugar imports to Armenia 39 business entities, again formally providing a competitive environment. With more detailed study, the expert noted, it becomes obvious that all 39 are the property of one person.
In general, according to the expert, if the government had the purpose to really reform the sphere, first of all, it would provide a free system of appealing the decisions of the tender commission. For today, consideration of disputes over the results of the contest, the appellant will cost 30 thousand drams (whether it's a contestant, a representative of the public organization, or an investigative journalist who at some stage sees violations and signals a problem). When making a positive decision on it - the amount is returned. While the services of the hotline in Armenia, which also provide anonymity, are free of charge. Meanwhile, the appellant in the procurement system has no right to anonymity, he reveals himself that in the context of Armenian reality, in the opinion of the economist, means to burn all the bridges behind him. "I will not open America if I say that after that they will become outcasts of the system and after that they will not be able to hope for victory in the contest," he said. In many countries, according to the economist, if the state is really interested in receiving signals from the public about the existing problems, then it, if possible, ensures the free process. "The theater of the absurd is nothing more," Artak Manukyan said.
Within the same feedback, according to the statements of the Ministry of Finance, permanent discussions are being held with the representatives of the PA, expert circles to implement reforms in the procurement sphere. However, according to the expert, the question is with whom and with what purpose this work is conducted - to listen to their opinion or again "clean water PR". In the opposite case, in his opinion, the agency was to invite alternative media to these discussions. Otherwise, according to the economist, "these discussions are worthless." "There are numerous pocket NGOs that are invited to the discussion for the sake of a tick, but it is not a fact that the participants in such discussions are satisfied with the results of the joint work," Artak Manukyan said.
As a result, as the expert assured, everything depends on the following: how much is the result obtained consistent with the stated goal - is there any chance that the bio-toilet purchased for a rather cheap price will be placed on the street, or how morally it is to talk about the 30% poverty level, continuing the former luxuries of the state apparatus.
In one, he is sure that in no problem-sphere in Armenia is legislation at the center, because Armenia already has legislation, perhaps the most liberal one, and that is in line with European standards, and it's about ensuring law enforcement practice. "No matter how much we talk about improving the legislation, if the country has a centralized economy, the result will be the same - just permanent players will already win by the law." How many we would not open the field if from year to year the tenders were won by the same persons it is meaningless to expect the participation of new players. The Armenian market is small and does not have the attractiveness that players from outside express a desire to participate in the process - as a result, again, the tender will win "Flash", concluded the head of the NGO.