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Georgian Parliament Approves 2018 State Budget

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, December 15
(TBILISI)—The Georgian Parliament approved the 2018 state budget late Wednesday, totaling to GEL 12.441 billion ($4.827 billion).

Finance Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze said the new budget will be the continuation of fiscal policy that the government started with the 2017 budget and based on a 4.5% forecast of real economic growth.

The Finance Minister said the state budget includes funds (GEL 10 billion, $3.921 billion), grants (GEL165 million, $64.70 million) and credits (GEL 1.28 billion, $501.964 billion). The total volume of state budget expenditures will be GEL 9,504,545,000 ($3.727 billion).

“Since 2017, we have already recorded savings of GEL 140 million. GEL 100 million out of this are from salaries and GEL 40 million ($15.686 million) from administrative expenses,” Bakhtadze added.

Members of the political opposition flatly refused to support the draft and harshly criticized Bakhtadze, claiming he was a party loyalist who was appointed on the order of tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, ex-Prime Minister of Georgia and founder of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, who is often referred to as the “informal ruler of Georgia”.

Parliamentary opposition from the United National Movement (UNM) mainly focused on the devaluation trend of the national currency, Georgian lari, and demanded an explanation from Bakhtadze.

“Last year the government claimed the lari would stabilize, but the situation has remained unchanged. We do not have any illusions that the situation will improve with the new budget,” Roman Gotsiridze, the UNM member, stressed.

European Georgia MP Irakli Abesadze called on the government to reduce taxes and implement profit tax reform. He said the budget does not envisage an increase of pensions and teacher salaries, as promised by the government.

The opposition parties did not take part in the voting process, however, this did not hinder the GD majority to approve the draft with 111 votes.