In Armenia, it pays to be the spouse of a high government official. The money keeps on pouring in.
Take the case of the Healthy Future Medical Center, Ltd. The Armenian government has been pouring lots of cash to the company as part of a program called the Medical Support Services for Tuberculosis.
Not surprisingly, the company is owned on a 50/50 basis by Zhanna Aghababyan (wife of National Assembly President Galoust Sahakyan) and Lilit Gasparyan (wife of Deputy Minister of Health Vahan Poghosyan.
Edgar Poghosyan, the 20 year-old son of the deputy minister, serves as the company’s director.
Immediately after being appointed deputy health minister, the finances of the Healthy Future Medical Center drastically improved. In 2009, the government allocated the company 160 million AMD (US$337, 760) in compensation for free medical assistance and services provided. In 2015, that amount rose to 273 million AMD.
For comparative purposes, the Gyumri Infectious-Tuberculosis Hospital received 64.6 million AMD in 2009 and 64.5 million in 2015.
In 2014, the government allocated a total of 1.2 billion AMD to finance the Support Services for Tuberculosis. Of this, 273 million went to the Healthy Future Medical Center. This year, the program’s budget is almost 1.4 billion AMD, of which the company again received 273 million AMD.
So who exactly in the health ministry decides what medical centers win government contracts? There’s a selection committee especially created for this purpose and all the members are employees at the ministry.
It goes without saying that committee members aren’t going to turn down tender bid applications filed by a company owned by the wife of the deputy minister of health.
Hetq tried to contact Edgar Poghosyan, the director of Healthy Future Ltd. for clarification about the seeming conflict of interest that his deputy minister dad faces, but the young man was always out of the office.