After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organisations which receive government funding began frequently resorting to a simplified state procurement rule, explaining their decisions by urgent necessity. NNLE Batumi Social Service Agency is among such organisations and FactCheck studied its history of procurements based on information published on the website of the State Procurement Agency.

As FactCheck found out, Batumi Social Service Agency procured different types of food products for beneficiaries during the course of 2020 with a total value of GEL 2,171,500 using a simplified procurement rule.

According to its charter, one of the functions of the Social Service Agency is to provide one-off meals for socially vulnerable people. To this end, the organisation has been making state procurements since 2014, although it never used a simplified rule to procure food products until 2019, previously having usually announced electronic tenders. The Social Service Agency used the simplified procurement rule once in 2015, once in 2016 and once in 2018 with a combined total value of slightly over GEL 40,000.

Since the second half of 2019, Batumi Social Service Agency has used a simplified procurement rule and has signed contracts valued at GEL 51,190 in order to procure food products.

As a result of the pandemic, Batumi’s municipal soup kitchens stopped operations on 1 April 2020 and resumed only in June. However, they were again closed following the new restrictions imposed in November 2020. Beneficiaries received their food portions in pre-packed form.

Although the Social Service Agency was aware beforehand of the types and the amounts of products it had to procure as well as also knowing that it had to distribute food baskets for the New Year holiday, the organisation procured products 35 times with a simplified rule during the course of 2020. In December 2020 alone, the Social Service Agency signed 12 contracts using a simplified procurement method with total value exceeding GEL 500,000.

Table 1: Simplified Procurements of NNLE Batumi Social Service Agency, 2020

Source: State Procurement Agency

Of note is that the reason behind nine of the simplified procurements in December 2020 is the need to provide different types of food products to vulnerable social groups in order to alleviate the impact of the pandemic. To this end, Batumi Social Service Agency signed the largest number of contracts with Jibe LLC with a total value of GEL 281,661.

The shares of Jibe LLC have been owned by different people at different times. The directors have also been replaced from time to time. In accordance with the most recent data of the NNLE register, JSC Ponto Holding owns 20% of the company’s shares. The director of the Ponto Holding, Giorgi Berianidze, donated GEL 10,000 to the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia in 2017.

In regard to electronic tenders, a total of GEL 3,054,100 in contracts were signed in the course of 2020 under electronic tenders.

The electronic tenders with a total estimated value of GEL 2 million either failed or ended with a negative outcome. These tenders were intended to allocate 2020 funds to procure different food products for beneficiaries.

Batumi Social Service Agency currently announced an estimated GEL 345,130 procurement bid. It is already reported that one tender with a GEL 37,548 estimated value has failed. These procurements are to be funded from the 2021 budget.