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State funds and the election

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, February 14
In all elections, the opposition complains that the ruling power is actively using administrative resources to fund its re-election campaign. Recently, a group of NGOs have analyzed the state budget and their findings suggest that government finances are spent differently in a year with an election, as opposed to one without.

The methodology used by NGOs was simple - researchers compared the 2011 state budget to the 2012 state budget (a non-election year, and an election year). Economist David Narmania, who contributed to the project, stated that if the authorities used resources fairly, any difference between the budgets should be only those technical expenses for the elections. However, the reality shows different.

The expenditures of the 2012 budget are not detailed, which is a problem for the research. The 2011 budget listed 3000 items, while in 2012 the expenditure items have decreased by 1500. Many items are only summarized figures without details.

Much of the finances devoted to rural infrastructure come from foreign credit. In the 2012 budget, these expenses have increased sixfold, reaching a total of 50 million GEL. It is unclear how much the public associates these infrastructure and rehabilitation projects with the state, or with the ruling party. The government's recent spree of opening hospitals also often obscures the fact that they were built, and are now owned, by private companies not by the administration.

The research also revealed that pensions are set to increase in September 2012, just one month before the elections. There are also extra discretionary funds for the office of the president and the government, approximately 50 million GEL each, and both entities are allowed to spend that money as they see fit. It appears, then that while the 2012 budget does not explicitly transfer funds to the United National Movement, it is designed to facilitate the victory of that party.