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NGO Survey Says Bureaucratic Expenses Increased in Georgia

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, December 22
(TBILISI)--The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) released the results of a survey showing Georgia’s bureaucratic expenses significantly exceed the country’s economic output.

The NGO studied bureaucratic expenses in 2011-2016 where the number of public servants in the total workforce and the size of bureaucratic expenses in the total state budget often falls far behind that of developed countries.

The IDFI says that if the bureaucratic expenses amounted to 2.5 billion Gel ($988.8 million) in 2012, in 2016 they increased to 3.147 billion Gel ($1.244 billion).

The report reads that overall, Georgia has had success in optimizing its system of state bureaucracy in terms of sate vehicle use, fuel consumption and the number of public servants in central public institutions.

The IDFI, however, also says that significant challenges remain in terms of having a fair and balanced remuneration system and rules for employing and compensating redundant employees.

“Despite positive trends, the size of Georgia's state bureaucracy and the resources required to keep it running significantly exceed Georgia's economic capabilities and require further optimization,” said the IDFI.

The organization says the expenses covered from the state budget for work visits of Georgian officials have also significantly increased.

53 million GEL ($20.96 million) was spent on work visits in 2012, but ballooned to 68 million GL ($26.89 million) b 2016.

One of several positive trends in 2012-2016 saw fuel expenses decrease from 160 million GEL ($63.28 million) to GEL 119 million ($47 million), while the number of public sector employees has also decreased from 273,700 people to 262,200 in 2016.

The share of public sector employment in the total workforce has also slightly decreased, however, there remain some exceptions that raise questions about the optimal size of the bureaucratic apparatus.

The survey revealed that the number of persons employed by municipal offices has doubled since 2011 to 51,828 employees in 2015. As a result, labor remuneration expenses have tripled since 2011 to GEL 179 million ($70.79 million) in 2015.

“Georgian legislation does not explicitly define the criteria for setting up such entities, which leads to duplication of authority,” the NGO stated, adding the extensive practice of employing supernumerary employees by public institutions is another challenge.

IDFI stressed it is common for public institutions to exceed the legal limit on the number of such employees they can employ. As a result, labor remuneration expenses for redundant employees have also increased from GEL 68 million ($27.29 million) in 2011 to GEL 170 million ($67.23 million) in 2016.

The NGO called on the government to develop a separate strategy and action plan on the optimization of its bureaucratic apparatus and also to restrict the practice of issuing bonuses and salary supplements to state servants.