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Opposition against 2017 budget draft

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, December 7
Parliamentary opposition parties, the United National Movement (UNM) and the Alliance of Patriots, say they will not vote for the state budget draft for 2017, which will be discussed at Parliament’s plenary session on Wednesday.

The UNM, which is represented by 27 lawmakers in the 150-member legislative body, says the draft doesn’t ensure enough decrease in administrative expenses and puts a heavier burden on businesses and the local population through increased taxes.

The Alliance of Patriots, with just six representatives in the legislative body, stresses that the key reason why they will not vote for the draft is the lack of social projects and assistance to socially vulnerable population.

Party members believe increased expenses for the state infrastructure are unreasonable when big portion of the Georgian people are “struggling for self-preservation.”

The revised draft of the 2017 state budget sets revenues at GEL 9.489 billion and expenditures at GEL 9.121 billion.

The government forecasts 4% economic growth next year.

State financing increases for the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, the Healthcare Ministry, Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, Agriculture Ministry, Energy Ministry, Defence and Foreign Ministries and for the Ministry of Culture.

The draft envisages an increase of excise tax on tobacco, imported cars (not on hybrid or electronic), and oil products, as well as increased tax for gambling.

Georgia’s Parliament Chair, Irakli Kobakhidze, said the draft would be initially discussed within the Parliamentary factions until final voting in the legislative body.

However, members of the opposition parties say they do not intend to change their views and vote for the budget draft.

“The budget, if confirmed, will bring the people of Georgia to more poverty,” UNM member Sergo Ratiani stated.

Irma Inashvili from the Alliance of Patriots added, “Most Georgians are fighting to survive when the Government is eager to spend most on infrastructural projects.”

Members of the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party, with 116 lawmakers in Parliament, stress the budget will provide “fast state development and create thousands of jobs in the country.”

The draft to be confirmed needs at least 76 votes.

Of course the ruling party will adopt the budget.