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Grisha Balasanyan

Armenia: Government Funds to Combat Covid-19 Misspent, Says Independent Audit Agency

Armenia’s Audit Chamber (AC), an independent arm of the government that monitors how state allocated expenditures are spent, today revealed that government funds allocated to manage the Covid-19 epidemic in 2020 were misspent due to incomplete or absent accounting mechanisms.

The AC said its study shows that the Ministry of Health mismanaged the planning process to handle the epidemic and that its financial oversight of state funds was lacking.

The Armenian government, in 2020, allocated 26.5 billion drams (US$58.6m) to the Ministry of Health for the prevention, control, treatment of the epidemic.

The AC noted that the Ministry of Health provided no accounting specifics on how those funds were spent and did not provide accurate information on who were hospitalized during 2020 and on what basis.

The AC, in its report, noted that the cost of treating Covid-19 patients significantly differed from hospital to hospital in the country.

The average cost to treat one patient in medical centers retooled to accept Covid-19 patients was 378,100 drams, 37,300 drams per day. The average treatment cost at Yerevan’s St. Gregory the Illuminator Medical Center was 1.367 million drams. (The hospital was refitted to accept Covid-19 patients in April 2020.)

The AC also found discrepancies in the ministry’s accounting of how the funds were disbursed to hospital workers and administrative staff. The agency cites the example of Yerevan’s Scientific Center of Traumatology and Orthopedics, where the ministry allocated 117 million drams towards the payment of salaries that didn’t exist.  

Overall, the AC concluded that due to the lack of control mechanisms in the Ministry of Health, refitted medical centers were paid some 152 million drams more than actual salary expenses.

The AC found that the ministry pursued a less than cost-effective purchasing policy as well often relying on non-competitive bids.

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