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Tbilisi city budget for 2011 criticised

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, November 18
The meeting between the oppositional factions and the Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi Ugulava , concerning Tbilisi city's 2011 budget on November 16-17, yielded no result. As it turned out, changes and priorities targeted in the city budget for 2011 are unacceptable to the opposition.

“We have expressed so many concerns regarding the budget project suggested by Tbilisi Mayoral. One of the main issues we raised during the meeting was the growth of pension to a minimum of GEL 140. However, this matter is not being considered. I can understand that many issues raised by us are linked to the central budget and I appeal to Mikheil Saakashvili to foresee this and fulfil his promises,” Inga Grigolia, from Christian- Democratic Movement, said. As she has mentioned, the issues of tariffs reduction and reform in the city transport system have also been noted, “the fees for municipality transport would rise by 90%, as the Mayor has stated such changes would not be felt by those people who have special privileges. Lately, the authorities have been focusing on extremely poor residents and forgetting the poor ones.“Grigolia said.

The project would not be supported by City Hall faction Our Tbilisi, “next year’s budget, compared to the present one, sees a reduction of GEL 123 million, which is a really alarming number. It means that the number of programs and promises, the present Mayor delivered before he was elected, would not be fulfilled, “the faction representative, Zurab Abashidze, said.

As the Tbilisi Mayor states, no changes would have an impact on socially unprotected people, “the main focus of the 2011 Tbilisi budget is based on the reduction of administrative expenses. The second most important thing for us is that there is no painful impact on socially unprotected citizens. All the programs and privileges for them would be unchanged. The third principle is that the 2011 budget is oriented on the improvement of different services.”

Based on city hall’s majority representative, Koki Ionatamishvili, “assistance on communal fees for the socially unprotected would also be preserved. Particularly, on water and cleaning service for which they have 50% privilege, which is again foreseen in 2011 city budget.”

As economic analyst, Shota Murghulia told The Messenger, changes in transportation might lead to mini buses again being popular in the country and that the increased transport fees would impact very negatively on society, “the authorities have a very controversial position towards transport. Firstly, there were mini buses in the country and the present government significantly reduced their number and municipality buses have been introduced to the cities. Now, as far as I know, they are acting to reduce the number of buses and replace them with mini buses, however who exactly would bring those mini buses in to the country is not known. I connect the increased fees on municipality transport to the issue, as when a fee is raised the number of passengers would be decreased, so there were no need of buses and they would be replaced with some other transport mean. , “ Murghulia said, claiming that , “the growth of transport fees would receive a very negative response from society, as it is a very painful issue for almost all citizens.”