Monday, March 12 2018 18:17
Naira Badalian

Expert: The biggest gap in procurement legislation is the lack of an institution for accountability for its violation

Expert: The biggest gap in procurement legislation is the lack of an institution for accountability for its violation

ArmInfo. Procurement experts in Armenia believe that the proposals approved by the Government of Armenia for reforming the procurement system are generally acceptable.  "The ideas themselves are more progressive than the current ones, but we can say that the discussions of the Ministry of Finance with public organizations did not give anything, as the proposals of independent experts remained on paper," the head of the public programs said in an interview with ArmInfo organization "Anti-Corruption Center Transparency International" Varuzhan Oktanyan and Chairman of the Association of Procurement Specialists of Armenia Arsen Hambardzumyan.

According to the representative of Transparency International, it turned out that after discussions with representatives of public organizations, the Ministry of Finance passed proposals for the approval of the government, which he himself initiated. At a single meeting with representatives of the public, the Ministry presented a ready-made project related to the establishment of clearly regulated terms for the review and evaluation of applications, the minimum deadlines for the implementation of the contract. The Ministry of Finance also refused such an instrument to secure the application, as unilateral application of fines against companies that violated the rules of tenders with the amount of state purchases up to 70 million drams.  These innovations, as they noted, are welcomed by the expert community, and the need for them has ripened long ago.  Nevertheless, according to experts, in the current order of procurement organization there are a number of controversial points. In this regard, during the discussions "Anti-Corruption Center Transparency International" and NGO "Association of Procurement Specialists of Armenia" made a number of proposals that were not reflected in the final document. In particular, it was proposed to establish a requirement to secure bids ranging from 2% to 5% of the initial value of the contract, rather than 5% of the bidder's bid, which gives rise to certain abuses. Experts also insisted that the refusal to accept applications be specifically justified, while excluding the possibility of further adjustments. "These and other written comments were ignored without any explanation," said Arsen Armbartsumian.  According to Hamardzumyan, at the end of 2016, when adopting the law "On Procurement", the RA Ministry of Finance set the goal to bring its domestic legislation into line with international obligations.  Nevertheless, the process of harmonization was carried out with serious omissions, as a result of which the adoption of the new law did not make the process fairer. In particular, the electronic platform armeps.am, which is designed to provide equal competitive conditions for all participants of the process due to its publicity and accessibility, in fact does not work in full force, since it does not conduct periodic independent audit of information security, because the human factor nobody canceled it.  The Institute of Disclosure of Real Business Owners, according to experts, is also not able to carry out its mission - to identify the affiliation of the company with a government official or a member of the evaluation commission, if there are no clear mechanisms for verifying the information specified in the application of the company participating in the tender. "It turns out that you have to trust the participant's honest word, since, as a rule, he fills in the full name of the executive director or the main shareholder, but there are no mechanisms, as a result of lack of political will," Varujan Oktanian said. In addition, he does not see the availability of adequate resources from law enforcement agencies, the Commission on Ethics of Senior Officials (which from April will be transformed into the Anti-Corruption Commission), which is entrusted with the status of this issue.

Experts also question the Council's mandate to appeal against procurement. Despite the fact that it is declared as an independent and impartial body, the Ministry of Finance is responsible for ensuring its functioning and the Council itself works as a ministry building. In addition, there are shortcomings associated with the lack of organizational and legal status of the Council. "The biggest gap between the former and current legislation in the sphere of procurement is the absence of an institution of responsibility for violation of the legislation by the participants in the process." Under such conditions, however perfect the procurement legislation, it will be violated, "concluded economist Arsen Hambardzumyan.

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