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Govt Proposes Amendments to 2015 State Budget

Wednesday, November 11
Government plans to submit to the parliament draft of amendments to the 2015 state budget, second of this kind in less than four months.

The government-proposed changes, among others, envisage adding GEL 96 million to the Healthcare Ministry and GEL 77 million funding cut for the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure.

The draft of amendment itself has yet to be unveiled, but Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri told a government session on November 9, that proposal will also involve increasing target of tax revenues by GEL 120 million this year.

Less than four months ago when the Parliament adopted amendments in the 2015 state budget, initially targeted tax revenues were cut by GEL 200 million to GEL 7.4 billion.

GEL 96 million, which the government wants to add to the budget of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Affairs, will go to a universal healthcare program.

Current funding for the universal healthcare program stands at GEL 470 million, accounting for 16.9% of the Healthcare Ministry’s total funding of GEL 2.785 billion and 5.3% of total budgetary expenditures of GEL 8.856 billion this year.

If the proposal is confirmed by Parliament, which is highly likely, the funding for the program this year will increase to GEL 566 million. The initial draft of the 2016 state budget sets the program’s funding at GEL 570 million for next year.

The universal healthcare program has turned into one of the staples of what the government calls is its “socially-oriented” and “human-centered” policies, and the program is always on top when GD ruling coalition and government officials list achievements of the current administration.

Earlier this month Zurab Tchiaberashvili of the opposition UNM party, who was healthcare minister in ex-President Saakashvili’s administration in 2012 and who is frequently criticizing existing universal healthcare system as unsustainable, was saying that the program was experiencing funding problems and the government would require at least GEL 94 million to fill the funding gap for this year.

The Finance Minister, Nodar Khaduri, told journalists after the government session on Monday that universal healthcare “is a successful program and many people apply to use it.”

“So it became necessary to add funds to this program,” Khaduri added. (