Use of Administrative Resources for Election Campaign in Georgia - 1st Report
There has been an unprecedented increase in the funding allocated to local government entities in Georgia’s state budget ahead of the 2010 local elections. The total transfers to local government bodies in the state budget exceed the previous year’s figure by 34%. At the same time, there has been a considerable increase in the number of employees in the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office and in the regional administrative bodies. The resulting growth of salary funds is at odds with President Saakashvili’s policy of reducing bureaucracy costs. Those who oppose this approach have suggested that state money is being used to employ the people who are to participate in the ruling party’s election campaign.
The government has also doubled the funding for the Rural Aid Programme even though some of the activities envisaged by the programme are supposed to be financed from local budgets under the existing laws.
The Tbilisi Mayor’s Office is sponsoring a 10-lari pension raise for the pensioners residing in the capital in a move that violates the law (whereby the pension policy is not part of the local government powers) and is discriminatory towards the individuals who live elsewhere in Georgia. The Mayor’s Office is also issuing medication vouchers to all pensioners in the capital. It is worth noting that similar programmes were implemented before the 2006 local elections and the 2008 presidential and parliamentary elections but not in 2007 or 2009 when no election was held. Furthermore, ruling party representatives are often actively involved in the implementation of social programmes financed from the state budget.
TI Georgia will continue to monitor the use of administrative resources during the election campaign. Future reports will explore the use of regulatory, institutional and hard resources. The financial analysis will focus on expenditures in municipal budgets.