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Experts question 2013 budgets

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, December 17
With 29 votes in favor against 2 not in favor, the Tbilisi City Assembly approved the city budget for 2013. The assembly session turned out to be tense. After several statements, several members of the city assembly left, stating that they will never approve the budget draft where the mayor’s office expenditure is twice more than the healthcare funding is.

“We cannot support the draft budget, where only 71 Million GEL is issued for homeless citizens, whilst 110 Million GEL is issued for “other” expenses, we do not even know what this money is going to be spent on.” Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) member Zaza Gabunia stated.

United National Movement (UNM) representatives claim the 2013 budget is only oriented on the interests of citizens. The major priorities for 2013 set in the budget plan will be healthcare and social projects, funded with 154,719,700 GEL, education – 48,670,000 GEL, restoring, building and developing transport infrastructure – 97,385,000 GEL.

Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulavra was also blamed in trying to use the city budget for financing the UNM, putting away the interests and priorities of the citizens. However, despite the dissatisfaction with the plan, the Tbilisi budget was still approved. In 2013, it will be 39 million GEL less than last year and will exceed 600 million.

Giorgi Muskhelishvili from the Georgian Dream is going to escalate the case further and bring the city budget to the attention of independent experts and the prosecutor’s office.

Meanwhile, the state budget for 2013 is still under discussion. The law requires the new state budget plan to be adopted by the end of the year. Therefore parliament will have to discuss the draft and approve it no later than the next week. The draft provided by the Ministry of Finance says the state budget for 2013 will be 9 billion GEL.

According to the Ministry of Finance the insurance project will be carried out step-by-step rather than immediately and the government will make sure the required funds are available. David Ebralidze, the Deputy Finance Minster, said that the first stage of the health insurance program will start in February 2013 and will continue in summer.

The Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) presented Analysis and Recommendation on the Draft Budget 2013, assessing the “2013 budget according to size and degree of funding priority lines”.

EPRC says that the “rapid fulfilment of a major part of the pre-election promises is not feasible.”

According to the head of the EPRC Lasha Dolidze, regrettably Georgia has no resources to ensure higher social standards for its citizens. His advice is to focus on rational use of the existing resources, especially when the infrastructure in the country has not been developed properly. The idea of developing social projects contradicts with the aim of creating more jobs for Georgians.