Tbilisi City Hall’s purchase of new subway wagons from the Russian company Metrovagonmash became a topic of heated debate, as the company is under sanctioned by Ukraine and its beneficiary owners are billionaires Iskander Makhmudov and Andrey Bokarev, both under sanction by Great Britain.
The value of the contract is 49 million Euros and it is being financed by a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
According to Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, Tbilisi City Hall did not want to sign a contract with this company and claims they were “forced” into it. Kaladze says City Hall employees and the EBRD were working on the issue over several months.
GEORGIA TODAY reached out to the EBRD representative in Georgia and Armenia, Loretta Martikian, to clarify the issue as to whether or not Tbilisi City Hall was as powerless in the tender decision making as Mayor Kakha Kaladze has suggested, and who the members of the tender committee were and who appointed them. We also asked her what the amount of financial risk was to City Hall, and if it is possible to cancel the contract rather than go ahead with it.
Loretta Martikian gave EBRD’s answers to the above in the following reply:
“The tender for the procurement of metro trains conducted by the Tbilisi Transport Company in 2021 was executed in compliance with the EBRD Procurement Policies and Rules. The contract was awarded to the supplier JSC Metrowagonmash. The new rolling stock will improve the reliability, safety and efficiency of public transport and provide commuters with a comfortable and environmentally friendly means of transport.”
EBRD is clearly avoiding direct answers, or the mention of specific numbers or people involved in the tender committee. At the same time, the Mayor is trying to deny any responsibility for feeding money into the Russian company, even though the tender committee was appointed by his City Hall.