YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan publicly lambasted Agriculture Minister Gerasim Alaverdian on Thursday over what he called a serious misuse of government funds by senior officials from the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture.
The minister is affiliated with the Prosperous Armenia Party, a junior partner in the country’s governing coalition.
The harsh criticism voiced during a weekly cabinet meeting stemmed from a financial inspection of ministry records that was conducted by the Armenian parliament’s Audit Chamber last year. According to Sarkisian, the chamber found that the ministry purchased cattle medication for farmers across the country from a private supplier at a grossly inflated price.
“Naturally, we should have ruled out such a practice in 2010,” Sargsyan told ministers. “But studies show that not only has the situation not been rectified but that it has actually deteriorated.”
Sargsyan claimed that two senior Ministry of Agriculture officials in charge of procurements, have continued to make sure that supply tenders are won by the same company. He implied that they have done so for personal and instructed Alaverdian to ask a state body overseeing Armenia’s civil service to sanction their dismissal.
The premier went on to declare that he is issuing a “strict reprimand” to Alaverdian because of the latter’s failure to “properly perform his duties.” “Such a work style must be ruled out,” he said.
Alaverdian’s reaction to the embarrassing criticism was not immediately known.