ArmInfo. On November 26, Gagik Beglaryan, ex-minister of transport and communication of Armenia, told reporters that there has been no abuse or misappropriations in the course of implementation of the North-South Road Corridor Investment Program.
He said that if due to the complains about the quality of operations the Armenian Government transfers back to the state budget only 7 mln USD out of the 80 mln USD, this means that there has been no abuse here.
When replying to the journalists' remark that even the incumbent Transport Minister Vahan Martirosyan has spoken about abuse in the course of construction, Baglaryan urged the media to look for no intrigue here. "I have heard what Minister Martirosyan said. He said that the former minister worked conscientiously," Beglaryan said.
To recall, on October 20 the incumbent Armenian Minister of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies Vahan Martirosyan told reporters that the Ministry was assessing the efficiency of construction of the North-South highway in the territory of Armenia. He noted that at the current stage the efficiency of both the highway construction and the North- South project in general is being assessed. He does not rule out possible replacement of the developer company and revision of the construction period. "There will be no abuse during my term in the minister's office, believe me," he said.
To note, in July 2016, when commenting on the "delay of construction of the Ashtarak-Talin section of the North-South project," the then Prime Minister of Armenia Hovik Abrahamyan said that the Spanish construction company had become a real evil for the North-South road corridor. He also stressed that there were problems also with the Ararat section of the road, whose quality did not meet the standards. "There are certain problems with this company, according to the rumors, the funds were misappropriated, please check into the matter", Abrahamyan instructed. After the session of the Government, Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Artur Arakelyan told journalists that Spanish company Corsan Corviam had already been fined for the improper quality of the construction work. Based on the results of the inspection, certain divergences were registered, which were envisaged by the agreement. As a result, the company was fined at 6 mln USD from the total 70 mln USD to be paid for the claims related to the quality of the conducted work within Tranche 1 from Yerevan to Artashat and Ashtarak. "However, there are no reasons to dissolve the agreement with the company", the deputy minister stated.
Meanwhile, according to the media reports, the Spanish company is unable to carry out the construction of the North- South highway due to the "Armenian traditional" corruption, and the company has decided to leave Armenia. A criminal case was instituted against the Spanish company and the Armenian Finance Ministry has confirmed this information, saying that "on October 2014, a criminal case was initiated based on Article 205.2 of the Armenian Criminal Code over tax evasion by the Armenian Branch of CORSAN-CORVIAM CONSTRUCCION. The case has no specific defendants. Pretrial investigation is underway".
The North-South 556km highway will be laid via the Armenian towns of Meghri-Kapan-Goris-Yerevan- Ashtarak- Gyumri-Bavra and enter the territory of Georgia on Akhaltsikhe-Batumi section, which will settle some transport problems of Armenia. This will be a four-lane motorway of reinforced concrete extending from the Armenian border and Iran to the Georgian port Batumi. The road corridor will facilitate improving the road connection with the two neighbors of Armenia: Iran and Georgia, providing access to international trade routes and markets. Armenia raised $500mln loan from the Asian Development Bank for the project that is estimated at $1 billion. Eurasian Development Bank is ready to provide $150 million. Armenia raised $60 million from the European investment Bank. Due to the project, the overland communication Europe-Caucasus-Asia will be improved. The project will be completed by 2019. It will allow Armenia to soften the consequences of the blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey and to join the Black Sea ring highway. Corsan Corvian Spanish company has won the tenders for construction of the first sections of the road, Chinese Sinohydro Corporation has won the tender for construction of the Lanjik-Gyumri section in north of Armenia.