NGO Says Budgetary Expenditures for Gov’t PR Increased

In 2012-2017, the government spent 50.4 million GEL on the salaries of PR employees, of which 49.75 million was spent in 2013-2017 after the Georgian Dream (GD) came into power.

The information was released by the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Transparency International (TI) Georgia, which said that their survey is based on data sent from 121 state agencies.

In total, the request for information was sent to 133 public agencies; however, according to the organization, 12 government agencies, including the Georgian government's administration, the Revenue Service and the Justice Ministry, did not provide them with the information.

According to the survey, the number of people employed in the press agencies of public institutions and their salaries have sharply increased since the Georgian Dream government came into power as a result of the 2012 parliamentary elections.

The report reads that in 2012, state agencies paid 6.4 million GEL to PR specialists, while in 2013 the budgetary expenditures amounted to GEL 7 million and in 2014 - 9 million GEL.

In 2015, the government paid 10 million GEL for PR services while in 2016, 12.4 million GEL was spent from the budget on press services, almost twice the amount of salaries paid in 2012.

However, last year, expenditure was reduced to 9 million GEL, though it should be noted that the 2017 statistics do not contain the data of November and December.

According to the official data, from year to year, the government increases the number of people working in the PR services of various governmental agencies. Where 423 people were employed in 2012, in 2016 this number increased to 690, and in 2017 it was reduced to 643.

Among the ministries, the Interior Ministry spent the most budgetary money on PR, setting a record in 2016 by spending 1,343.887 GEL on the Public Relations Department. The Interior Ministry is followed by the Defense Ministry with outgoings of 848,470 GEL, and Ministry of Health, which in 2016 spent 907,565 GEL on PR.

Salome Tsetskhladze, TI Georgia representative, stated that in 2013-2017, the Interior Ministry spent 5.3 million GEL followed by the Ministry of Defense - 3.8 million GEL and Health Ministry -3.6 million GEL.

“Moreover, compared to 2012, in 2016 the number of PR employees in state agencies grew by 63% and the expenditures by 94%,” she added.

Mamuka Andghuladze, Program Manager of TI Georgia, notes that the government's administration did not provide data on expenditures during 2013-2017.

He added if they are again denied the information, they will apply to court.

“In comparison to 2012, the peak was 2016, in terms of salaries and the number of employees. We suppose this is related to the parliamentary elections held in 2016," he said.

Thea Morrison

05 March 2018 15:30