Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan publicly and demonstratively rebuked Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan (no relation) and senior government officials for misusing budget money in state procurement on Saturday during a meeting with the Cabinet.
In what seems to be a pre-election PR stunt ahead of the upcoming presidential elections slated for February 2013, Sargsyan addressed the Prime Minister and Cabinet after the head of President’s Inspection Service presented a report on the situation with state procurement.
The new law”On Procurement” came into force on January 1, 2011. One of the main changes the law brings, is decentralization of state procurement by devolving procurement powers of the former State Procurement Agency and giving each state and public entity the right to manage their own purchases and tenders. According to President’s Inspection Service, the devolution process has gone terribly wrong, with kickbacks and corruption plaguing the system, which has been left with loopholes and incomplete regulation.
“Isn’t it strange, that we’re buying something on a tender and paying more than its market value? Someone has to answer for this! This is unacceptable, unacceptable!” Sargsyan told the Prime Minister and the Cabinet with a grave face, adding, that his patience is wearing out. “Can’t we at least solve the technical problems? Can’t we draft the regulations? Then go after those people who take kickbacks, or have their cousin win the tender which costs twice the market value,” he added.
The President called for swift action by putting the missing regulation in place and punishing corrupt officials.
PS: All of this is rather funny! Sargsyan knows, of course, that kickbacks and bribes are the main source of income for his ministers to drive their fancy cars, live in luxury houses and pay their share of bribes to those on top of the government’s “food chain.” So I take this as a pure PR move, a speech, which lays out the cornerstones of the upcoming presidential race, where foreign policy and government corruption are going to be the main topics. It has begun!!!