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IDFI speaks about alleged misspending of budgetary funds

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, June 1
The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) NGO has released research requested by Michael Decker, a volunteer in the Teach and Learn with Georgia (TLG) state programme.

Decker asked the NGO investigate an electronic tender on airline tickets announced by the National Center for Teacher Professional Development (TPDC).

TLG is run by the TPDC and has been recruiting foreign teachers since 2010 to promote foreign language skills in Georgian schools and to organize intercultural and educational activities (school clubs, summer camps, etc.).

The IDFI said on July 9, 2015, the TPDC announced a tender (SPA150019160) for purchasing 11 one-way economy class airline tickets with a total cost of GEL 62,000. The tender ended with a single bidder - Discovery Ltd.

“The first problem we discovered with the tender was its assigned procurement category. Instead of the more appropriate category of ‘travel agencies, tour operators and tourist assistance services’ (CPV 63500000), the TPDC had assigned its tender the category of ‘miscellaneous transport equipment and spare parts’ (CPV 34900000).

“This resulted in potential suppliers being unable to find and participate in the tender since airline ticket operator companies would not be looking for tenders in such a category,” the IDFI said.

The IDFI stated after winning the tender that Discovery Ltd. estimated the cost of 11 one-way economy class tickets at GEL 64,395.

The NGO decided to calculate how fair the price was.

“As it turned out, these tickets contained all the necessary information to calculate their actual cost using the Fare Calculator provided in the Ticket Handbook of the International Air Traffic Association.

“For one of the tickets displayed above, the difference between the actual fare and the amount paid by the TPDC was GEL 3,363.84. The fact that the tickets were purchased at least two weeks prior to the flights did not result in a significant increase in their price. This is evidenced by the August 10 2015 contract between the TPDC and Discovery Ltd. and the dates displayed on the e-tickets,” IDFI stated.

The NGO said the total difference between the actual price of the tickets and the amount paid by the TPDC was GEL 33,639.76.

“When we inquired about the reasons behind this difference, Discovery Ltd. responded that their price calculation was a commercial secret,” IDFI stated.

The IDFI considered the prices of the above tenders to be highly suspicious.

“It is unclear why 11 one-way economy class airline tickets would cost GEL 62,000. Other purchases of the same nature made by the National Center for Teacher Professional Development have similarly high prices,” they said.

The organisation said the relevant state agencies should show some interest in the issue.