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Official News

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

PM Orders Minister of Labor and Social Affairs To Immediately Take Specific Measures Against Corruption Risks In This Area




Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan held a consultative meeting at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to discuss corruption in this area.

“This is an emergency meeting considering the situation in the field of disability. The Prime Minister’s Control Service (PMCS) has conducted checks and surveys in all the regions to see how disability status is being granted in Armenia. We have recorded gruesome events and facts,” the Prime Minister said.

Head of the Prime Minister’s Control Service Sargis Grigoryan reported back widespread corruption risks available in the field of medical-social expertise. Note that similar risks are available in medical institutions, where AMD 5.000-20.000 is asked to issue the 0-88 form, as well as in the MSECs, where the required amount is AMD 15.000-35.000. In cases where disability is obviously absent, a positive decision for disability is provided for some 150.000-200.000 drams.

According to the PMCS Head, 3rd group disability can be obtained by paying an amount equivalent to a month’s pension, with the “transaction” being carried out through passport or work-record card-mediated money transfer. Disability applicant polls have revealed that in some cases applicants were denied the right to a disability status for lack of illegal payment. Citizens say a MSEC member usually indirectly indicates the possibility of getting a status through “illegal money.”

"Dear colleagues, you can see that we have launched a large-scale anti-corruption campaign. In the meantime, we have repeatedly stated that our primary focus is on those areas where the Sate is providing public services to thousands of citizens. Citizens form an idea about the government by communicating with local the bureaucrats.

The PMCS is reporting that corruption is widespread in the field of disability. While there are exceptions and we have honest officers indeed, yet this is not common.

Every year some 65-70 thousand citizens run corruption risks. They pay AMD 15000-20000 to medical institutions and commission members to get a certificate or an extension.
Those 65 thousand people will think that everyone at your ministry is turning a blind eye to the fact.

You are all experienced professionals: I wonder why you have failed to raise the alarm. The government has repeatedly raised this issue, and I think that this type of situation cannot be tolerated any longer.

In the first place, we need personnel changes. I am now demanding you, Mr. Minister, to immediately implement personnel changes. The supervisor of the relevant service who has been facing widespread corruption risks for many years and failed to report them back even once must be dismissed.

We should get rid of these people as soon as possible, if we are to win the public’s trust. There are a lot of honest and decent people who seek appropriate employment. I am looking forward to personnel changes from now on,” the head of government concluded.
Prime Minister Sargsyan instructed Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Artem Asatryan to get familiarized with materials compiled by the Prime Minister’s Control Service and proceed to personnel changers in all those areas where there are incidences of corruption.

Artem Asatryan took note of the Prime Minister’s recommendation and assured that a probe will be launched and the materials will be submitted to the law-enforcement authorities.

***

Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Artem Asatryan has issued an order to dismiss Head of Medical and Social Expertise Agency Michael / Misha / Vanyan.

Below you will find the full text of the report made by Head of the Prime Minister’s Control Service Sargis Grigoryan.

The Medical-Social Expertise Agency (MSEA) of the Staff of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs consists of 2 structural units and 25 regional bodies – Medical-Social Expert Commissions (MSEC) wrote in the medical examination procedure established by Government decree N276 - N as dated 02.03.2006.

183581 disability cases are registered with the central database of Armenia (as of 17.08.2012).

The study has revealed procedural, organizational and administrative breaches and corruption risks.

Corruption Risks

1. The PMCS has found out widespread corruption risks available in the field of medical-social expertise. Note that similar risks are available in medical institutions, where AMD 5.000-20.000 is asked to issue the 0-88 form, as well as in the MSECs, where the required amount is AMD 15.000-35.000. In cases where disability is obviously absent, a positive decision for disability is provided for some 150.000-200.000 drams, (the latter, however, is not so widespread as the former).

2. 3rd group disability can be obtained by paying an amount equivalent to a month’s pension, with the “transaction” being carried out through passport or work-record card-mediated money transfer. Disability applicant polls have revealed that in some cases applicants were denied the right to a disability status for lack of illegal payment. Citizens say a MSEC member usually indirectly indicates the possibility of getting a status through “illegal money.”

According to the survey, a number of citizens - applicants retired for many years during the regular examination of the above-mentioned transfer the commission amount corresponding to the amount of their monthly pension, and received a disability and, in some cases, because of the transfer amount, less than a pension, despite disability, deprived of disability.

Surveys have shown that in some cases applicants did not get a disability status because they had not been able to pay the amounts required.

The citizens note that one of the members of MSEC usually indirectly hints at the possibility of getting a status by making illegal payments.

Thus, we can see that the risk of corruption is mainly manifested in the MSEC, which, in our opinion, due to the fact that under the applicable government decree N276-N (chapter 3, paragraph 10) of March 2006, MSECs are empowered to implement inspection, which however cannot be called as transparent for the lack of clear-cut control mechanisms.

We believe that in this regard there is a need to specify criteria for classification of disabilities.

Violation of the requirements of legal acts

Paragraph 16 of government decree N276-N of 02.03.2012 “On approval of the procedure of medical-social expertise” defines that the MSEC, in case of difficulty in orientation in professional matters, in order to obtain expert advice sends the case appropriate administrative proceedings ITU agency, informing the person in respect of which an examination or his legal representatives.

But the actual scheme of this function, and at the insistence of MSEC request, the agency also sent a person in respect of which an examination, and if the latter are not the person to the agency for consulting expertise, the MSEC-in assistance is not available, which is an obvious and gross violation of the above order, approved by the Government of Armenia.

For different patients with similar diagnoses and expert similar Disabilities are carried different decisions on granting of disability. As explained ITU Department agency, the basis for the decision is the profession of the patient and the fact that work on the profession, or, because of illness, the other profession.

From said that for the identification and provision of disability is a major factor is assessment of disabilities. What is the function of this: in the indoor environment committee members, looking at age, integrity, manners, clothes, and even the tone of voice, the look of the applicants that have the same disease, determine the extent of their life - or, the same degree as possible to work, and, based on that, determine the level of disability or on the granting of disability in general. The problem in this case is that commission members are legally entitled to decide upon the granting of the given form According to the procedure approved by the Government of Armenia.

We do believe that such legislative control corruption risks are minimized. In the end, the issue of disability for a part of the society is of great social importance - except it provides benefits payments to health care and assistance, the possibility of free spa and resort, the right to free medicines and free transportation, hence the manifestation of high corruption risks for the function.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Summarizing the results of the study, we can conclude that there are high risks of corruption in the function of medical and social expertise and the provision of a disability status, which are conditioned by both legislative and administrative gaps.

In order to clearly define and systematize the procedures for implementing the functions ruling out the existing corruption risks, we recommend:

1. Together with the Ministry of Healthcare of Armenia to develop and implement a unified methodology for the classification of disability criteria in the form of checklists.
2. Territorial medical and social expert commissions should be formed for a certain period, limiting the right of any member to work constantly on the commissions.
3. Territorial medical-social expert commissions should be formed through joint participation of the Ministry of Healthcare and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

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