Georgian President & Administration Criticized for Spending GEL 13 mln in 2017

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and his administration fell under sharp criticism from the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) and opposition parties after the release of the State Audit Office (SAO) report, which reads that the Presidential Administration spent GEL 13 million in 2017.

The SAO says that up to GEL 2 million of the total expenditures were spent on bonuses, and notes that giving bonuses to employees was of a systematic character at the Presidential Administration last year.

The Audit Office gave recommendations and remarks regarding the New Year event held at the President’s residence in Avlabari on which the Administration spent almost half a million GEL and ordered only one company to organize the event.

“The Administration must pay more attention to budget planning to avoid large expenditures of funds,” the SAO says, adding that bonuses were given to employees every month, without a reason being indicated.

According to the report, in the year 2017, the President's Administration spent 4,622,445 GEL on Labor remuneration out of which 2,649,852 GEL was spent on salaries, and the rest on bonuses. The number of approved staff in 2017 was 140.

The SAO also stated that some events were financed from the President’s Reserve Fund which should have been financed from the budget.

Parliament Vice-Speaker Gia Volsky says the President spent the money irrationally.

“I am not surprised that the President spent 2 million GEL on bonuses. During his term, he lived only for himself and spent money as he wanted,” Volsky claimed.

Akaki Zoidze, Chairman of the Committee on Healthcare and Social Issues, believes that while the country cannot get a concrete result from some visits, the President should refrain from such expenses.

“I understand that it is important to decently represent our country at the international level, including the President, but money belonging to thousands of pensioners is being spent during such visits…the Presidential Administration spent more money on vacations than all 150 MPs together,” Zoidze stated.

According to the opposition, every institution should pay particular attention to the rational spending of budgetary funds.

Parliamentary minority European Georgia says that when the poverty is so high in the country, it is unacceptable to spend so much money.

“It is not correct that the people's money is spent on officials and not on the people's well-being," one of the leaders of the party, Zurab Chiaberasvili, noted.

Meanwhile, the United National Movement (UNM) says the issue might be of a political character. Roman Gotsiridze says that State agencies and ministries issue twice more bonuses but no one studies their activities or asks why they were spent.

The Presidential Administration has yet to respond to the SAO report.

By Thea Morrison

16 August 2018 17:43