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Parliament passes bill with first reading on restricting of bonuses

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, October 29
The Georgian Parliament has passed majority MP Zakaria Kutsnashvili’s legislative initiative on the restriction of bonuses for high-ranking political officials by 55 votes to one in the first reading.

Zakaria Kutsnashvili’s bill has initiated changes to the law on Public Service, according to which, before the new law on Public Service takes effect on 1 January 2017, MPs, ministers and their deputies; representatives of the supreme bodies of Abkhazia and Adjara, government chairmen and their deputies; ministers and deputies of ministers of Abkhazia and Adjara; head of governmental administration; head of the presidential administration; secretary of the Security Council; National Bank president; governors and their deputies; judges; chief prosecutors and their deputies; mayors and city assembly chairmen and other officials will not be able to receive bonuses. The restriction concerns 746 officials in all.

There are different opinions about the bill in the parliamentary majority. Some MPs believe that the right to receive bonuses should not be restricted by the law, and that the existence of the political will is enough for it.

However, not all the members of the opposition intend to support the initiative.

The issue of bonuses and salary supplements caused a major stir in Georgia last year when several non-governmental organisations and politicians aired materials revealing that particularly large amount bonuses or salary supplements had been given to high-ranking state officials. Government representatives stated that the system of bonuses and salary supplements was introduced by the previous state leadership, who also took high bonuses and traveled on the budget’s expense.

The opposition United National Movement party members claimed that they did not take bonuses as high as those collected by the current state leadership.

Transparency International Georgia (TI) made a statement which said that giving bonuses was a positive action, but this is not suitable for Georgia, as the budget planning system did not envisage the giving of bonuses.

“This obscurity is used by certain officials for their own interests,” TI states, stressing that the correspondence between fulfilled work and the subsequently taken bonus was not determined through any regulation.

Thus, the NGO has already appealed to Parliament to create a transparent system of giving bonuses. TI also appealed to the State Audit Agency to pay attention to salaries and bonus issues in its reports.