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TI: More than 11,000 contracts signed without a tender during the state of emergency

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Wednesday, July 8
Local watchdog, Transparency International-Georgia (TIG) released a study on 7th of July on examining the state procurements carried out during the state of emergency. According to the report 11,316 contracts were signed during the state of emergency, which lasted from March 21st to May 22nd, without announcing a tender. The state has purchased a total of GEL127.2 million, of which 35% (GEL45 million) comes from Georgian Dream and Salome Zurabishvili’s donors in different years.

“The government administration, the State Security Service, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) and some agencies under the MIA do not publish simplified procurement contracts. Therefore, it is likely that more money will be spent on direct purchases, but the information about them is not transparent, which complicates the analysis and control of corruption risks.” the report reads adding that this problem was urgent even before the state of emergency.

During the same period, 1,495 tenders were announced, with a total cost of GEL557 million. Most of all, 266 e-tenders worth a total of GEL460 million were announced for the purchase of construction works.

“Only one supplier participated in more than half of the tenders. Compared to the same period in 2019, the number of tenders announced has almost halved, and competition has decreased,” the organization said.

TIG offers 5 recommendations to the government: The Audit Office should pay more attention to the connections of the companies participating in public procurement with the ruling parties; The Procurement Agency should pay more attention to the issue of publishing services purchased without a tender; Procurement Agency should tighten consent to procurement without tender; State agencies must be obliged to publish an argument on the basis of which they have purchased services without tenders; Suspicious purchases should be investigated by the Anti-Corruption Department.

Note that restrictions and regulations may be extended without declaring a state of emergency.

The case concerns the draft law, which was approved by the Parliament of Georgia on May 22 in the third reading. The bill authorizes the government to impose legal restrictions without a state of emergency. The deadline for amendments to the law on public health was July 15.

Mamuka Mdinaradze, the leader of the parliamentary majority, spoke about the initiative to extend the restrictions, saying that there are 3 possible reasons for the extension: “health care for citizens, the economy and the upcoming elections.” Mdinaradze believes that the extension will allow the elections to be held in a safe environment by the end of the year.

The bill provides for a new definition of quarantine measures and includes measures related to restrictions on movement, economic activity, property, assembly, labor and other rights.

Parliament passed the bill in an expedited manner in May, citing the threat of the spread of the new coronavirus. On May 22nd, the president signed it.

Opposition groups, the Public Defender's Office and non-governmental organizations say the bill is unconstitutional and increases the risk of disproportionate rights by the government, adding that fines and criminal measures are disproportionate, repressive and dangerous to human rights.