Transparency International Georgia, a local watchdog, released a report on July 7, analyzing public procurements during the COVID-19 related state of emergency. According to the report, during the state of emergency – from March 21 through May 22 – 1,495 online tenders worth of GEL 557 million (USD 182 million) were announced by the Georgian authorities. There had been only one supplier in more than half of the successfully completed tenders, said the CSO.
TI Georgia noted that number of announced tenders decreased almost twice year-on-year, adding however, that competition for tenders also experienced decrease. The CSO also said that during the emergency 11,316 contracts with a total cost of GEL 127.2 million (USD 42 million) were concluded through a simplified procurement procedure.
The watchdog further stressed that the companies affiliated with the donors of the Georgian Dream and President Salome Zurabishvili – whose presidential bid was backed by the ruling party – gained contracts worth of GEL 45 million (USD 15 million), amounting to 35% of money spent through direct procurement.
The civil society outfit stated that the central government administration, the State Security Service, the Interior Ministry and some of its subordinate units do not publicize their contracts on simplified procurements. TI Georgia supposes that more public money is spent through direct procurement, but the relevant information is not transparent and available, that complicates monitoring of corruption risks.
TI Georgia recommends the Public Procurement Agency to pay more attention to the issue of publicizing the contracts on simplified procurements, adding that no “hidden contracts” should not be sealed except for those procurements related to state secrets.