World Bank retaliates against Parliamentary Whistleblower

World Bank retaliates against Parliamentary Whistleblower

Friday, February 1, 2008

World Bank Armenia Corruption – The effects

For the past several months, ‘Blowing the World Bank Whistle’ has been supported by the Armenian and international media in documenting how the World Bank and its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund, have absolutely no defense for how they have been driving major corruption escalation in Armenia since the turn of the century.

Representatives of the International Financial Institutions (IFI’s), who have been in Armenia for more than fifteen years, introducing and overseeing state-of-the-art governance and accountability, have been helping Government cronies cheat the people of Armenia out of hundreds of millions of dollars each year, using a wide variety of intriguing finance mechanisms. The same IFI representatives report how the Armenian economy continues to boom, when they know the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has simply been the illegal transfer of state properties to corrupt state officials, and the construction boom, also apparently by foreign investors, is the same small circle of corrupt state cronies laundering their ill-gotten gains.

The World Bank and the IMF make little reference that through the same economic boom years, Armenian corruption has escalated out of all proportion. And that corruption has been accompanied by the inevitable evolvement of a well-entrenched autocratic authority, which has strengthened its grip in sync with the flourishing corruption. Autocracy thrives through enforced unlawfulness, in which bread winners are constantly in fear of retribution from the state, should they attempt to swim against the rushing and festering autocratic tide - especially important at election times.

State-connected oligarchs monopolize all major products and services, often in the guise of a foreign investor. Including fuels, solid and liquid food products, finance, energy, communications, transport, even the water the Armenian people drink. They prey on the domestic market, dictating prices and manipulating the value of the local currency to benefit importers, apathetic to suffering exporters, and with one objective, to make fortunes for themselves and their palls further up the pecking order.

State officials repeatedly deceive with promises of massive investments to benefit the people of Armenia, when in practice their intent is to use the resources they have extorted from the people, through a plethora of well-tested schemes, to satisfy their own insatiable gluttony.

According to them, paradise is thumping on Armenia’s door. Armenia will have a new 1,000 megawatt atom power station to eliminate the need for all fossil energy resources. But as the Minister speaks, he is squandering 150 million dollars, entrusted to him by the Armenian people to build a new gas fired power station in Yerevan, and the Hrazdan gas-fired power station, which has already soaked up as much for refurbishment, is being gifted to yet another foreign investor. Mini-hydro energy projects are springing up all around the Republic, financed by Government managed grants and credits, also monopolized by the same group of cronies. The World Bank is sponsoring a new ethanol industry, and apparently Armenia is to be the first to use the Jerusalem artichoke weed as the feedstock; and the Araks River, which runs at a snails pace along the Armenia – Iran border, is to be adorned with a massive new hydro-station. That will no doubt stand next to the impressive new 3 billion dollar oil refinery which was built at the time of last year’s Parliamentary election. Or maybe it will stand next to the new 1.7 billion dollar oil refinery which is due to be opened just after the upcoming Presidential election. And the recent Russian monopolization of Armenia’s railroad system has already given birth to a new high-speed railway line, which is expressing people and goods from Yerevan to Teheran and back.

Then, last week, Armenia saw its ever-caring President announcing the opening of yet another sugar factory – and this time he was not looking at a bottle of sugar being ceremoniously buried in a hole in the ground, he was standing next to one of two newly implanted stanchions, which are to be the new sugar factory.

Wake Up Armenia!

How many times can you be fooled by the same old stories?

They say that some of the people can be fooled all of the time, and all of the people can be fooled some of the time, but all of the people can not be fooled all of the time. But that saying apparently does not apply to the people of Armenia.

The 1,000 megawatt atomic power station is nothing but a state sponsored fairytale, together with the Araks river hydro-plant, and the Iran-Armenia railroad line, not to mention the 3 billion dollar, or the 1.7 billion dollar oil refinery. When will the Armenia people learn that, if today’s Armenian authorities do anything, they do it only for one purpose – to fill their own already overflowing pockets.

But the new sugar factory is a different story; that is reality.

But unfortunately for Armenia’s farmers, it will not be the sugar factory the President has promised - for the fourth or fifth time. The new construction in Akhurian is not to benefit the struggling farmers of the earthquake devastated Shirak and Lori Marzes. It will be a completely different animal, and as usual, it will benefit the small circle of state cronies, who now intend to tighten their monopolize over Armenia's sugar industry.

As usual, and especially in the run-up period to an election, Armenia’s authorities are busy promoting all manner of marvelous economic development initiatives for the people of Armenia, when in practice they are preparing to again strengthen their grip on the Armenian society - a grip that is already iron fast.

Why do I have an interest in what the Armenian authorities might be doing with the Armenian people? Because to an embarrassing extent it is the result of the disgraceful actions of the Armenia representatives of the international financial institutions, who have been driving Armenian corruption, and today’s Armenian dictatorship, for the past seven or eight years.

And soon, when the people of Armenia eventually find out why those very same insatiably greedy Armenian state cronies have been investing billions of their ill-gotten dollars into hundreds of thousands of square meters of accommodation space that nobody apparently needs, or wants, then they will understand why the World Bank’s Department of Institutional Integrity (INT) in Washington should respond to my claim and open a full investigation into fraud and corruption in Armenia World Bank projects.