YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan on Thursday instructed three members of his cabinet to take measures that seem aimed at tackling possible misuse of public funds or corruption among government officials subordinate to them.
In particular, Karapetyan told Education Minister Levon Mkrtchyan to present next week “proposals” on how to preclude nepotism and conflicts of interest among public school personnel.
“You all know what I’m talking about,” he told a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. “A mother and a daughter working in the same school…I don’t want to exclude all such cases. We just need to differentiate between objective and subjective cases.”
Another instruction was addressed to the Armenian Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs. Karapetyan ordered it to examine within the next ten days “the efficiency of budgetary spending” on various sporting events. The ministry will also have to determine how justified those expenditures are and, if necessary, propose spending cuts.
“We will look into that and respond,” the newly appointed Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Hrachya Rostomian said after the meeting.
Karapetyan also told Labor and Social Affairs Minister Artem Asatrian to propose ways of making the process of assigning pensions and poverty benefits to eligible Armenians “more optimal.”
Asatrian insisted afterwards that the premier does not suspect corrupt practices in that process. “It’s only about further simplifying existing procedures so that our citizens have better access to social services,” he told reporters.
Karapetyan became suspect of alleged embezzlements of budgetary funds set aside for government officials’ travel expenses on September 22, just over a week after he was appointed prime minister. He decried the “primitive theft” as the government approved a new electronic system for the purchase of air tickets for officials travelling abroad on business.
The prime minister did not specify the scale of the alleged fraud or name officials who he thinks engage in it. The government made clear afterwards that law-enforcement authorities will not launch a criminal investigation into his claims.