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Seda Ghukasyan

Former, Curent Armenian Health Ministers Dispute Findings of Covid-19 Funds Study

The former and current Armenian health ministers today hit back at a recent government study finding that state funds allocated to manage the country’s Covid-19 epidemic in 2020 were misspent due to incomplete or absent accounting mechanisms.

Former Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan and current Minister Anahit Avanesyan today attended a special session of the parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance and Budgetary Affairs reviewing the findings of the Audit Chamber (AC), an independent arm of the government that monitors how state allocated expenditures are spent.

The AC released its findings last month, arguing 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.

Torosyan and Avanesyan countered that while the ministry hadn’t been sufficiently prepared to initially cope with the spread of the virus in Armenia given the scope of the challenge and the conflicting medical reports circulating at the time, they responded to the challenge as best they could with the ministry’s limited resources.

Torosyan also accused the AC of not possessing all the facts to make such black and white conclusions.

AC Chairman Atom Janjughazyan stated that the audit was carried out on the initiative of the parliament and had simply stated the facts.

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