|Working Together - Armenia|
February 2013, public policy dialogue meetings took place in Yerevan among the local Government representatives, and local and international public procurement experts. One the most important was discussion with the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Armenia, representatives of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, World Bank and other donor organizations on the topic “Development of electronic procurement system in the Republic of Armenia”.
The Republic of Armenia has experienced significant economic growth and development over the past decade. A large part of this is attributed to the strong commitment of the government in the implementation of structural reforms as well as its ability to improve macroeconomic indicators, provide a robust investment climate and accelerate the privatizations process.
One of the core meetings of the workshop was the one convened by Vache Gabrielyan, Minister of Finance of Armenia. Participants included Makar Ghambaryan, Head of Public Internal Financial Control and Public Procurement Methodology Department, Ministry of Finance of Armenia, Eliza Niewiadomska EBRD, Legal Transition Programme, EBRD, Armen Saqapetoyan and Tigran Qanqanyan from the Presidential Oversight Service, Lilit Gevorgyan from the Chamber of Control, Yura Zaqaryan from the National Security Service, Hayk Karapetyan from the State Commission for the Protection of the Economic Competition, Ara Gyurjyan and Hayk Hovhannisyan from the Procurement Support Center, Edgar Avetyan from Foreign Financing Project Management Center, Arthur Ghulyan from e-Governance Infrastructure Implementation Unit, Chris Smith, Levon Hovsepyan and Artak Chobanya from Crown Agents, and Astghik Solomonyan from EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative.
Opening remarks were made by Vache Gabrielyan, Minister of Finance and the agenda was set to discuss the subject of reforms of the electronic procurement system in Armenia. The discussion focussed on two broad themes namely: how can the existing eProcurement system be fixed, and what are the costs and time involved for making the Armenian eProcurment system operational.
At the outset Makar Ghambaryan, Head of Public Procurement Methodology Department stated that in the scope of the EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative colleagues from the EBRD are assisting in the works directed at improving the electronic procurement system of the Republic of Armenia. Mr Ghambaryan presented the options that are available to the Government of the Republic of Armenia in order to move forward with the eProcurement reforms.
While exploring the options of fixing the existing eProcurement system in Armenia Mr Ghambaryan stated that the system faces several fundamental challenges. Key among them are issues pertaining to the public procurement initiation phase (when should procurement arise, when to conduct procurement etc.) an issue which has been numerously voiced by the Chamber of Control, and monitoring issues such as supervision over already signed contracts. Although the suggestion of installing new modules and ramping up the existing system were made, Mr Ghambaryan stated that such an option comes with a considerably high time and financial cost. A second alternative suggested was the issue of a tender for the purpose of developing and implementing an eProcurement system based on the specific needs of the Armenian procurement environment. A third option was the implementation of the Georgian system of eProcurement, which was wholly developed and installed in Georgia. Several challenges in the selection of this option were identified such as lack of testing, noncompliance with EU standards as well as security issues. A final option suggested was the implementation of one of the existing eProcurement systems currently in place in EU member states.
Ms Niewiadomska stated that during meetings with the Government representatives of Malta and Cyprus, the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Cyprus stated that they had a positive experience with the system installed by European Dynamics company.
Stakeholders involved agreed that an ideal outcome would be to install and use an upgraded version of the Maltese or Cypriot eProcurement system. Ms Niewiadomska cautioned the parties that while buying the system it is important to take into account who will maintain the system, and what options are available to decrease costs.
Ms Niewiadomska stated the importance of having a dedicated staff to manage the eProcurement overhaul while keeping in mind realistic time frames. She further stated that the taskforce will ensure that all support will be extended to the Armenian government in the execution of its eProcurement reform. Further she stated that new secondary legislation which has been drafted in conjunction with key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Finance Armenia, the World Bank and Sigma must be enforced in as short a time as possible.
The meeting ended with the Finance Minister’s assurance that the Road Map for finalising eProcurement reform drafted by the EBRD will be presented to the Government in a short time in order to start the process of resolving the existing problems as soon as possible.