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“A Belt-tightening” – how the Budget Funds are Saved in Tbilisi City Offices?

Draft amendments to the capital budget are still in the development stage, however, the city government is forced to consider this issue at the meetings.According to the Tbilisi City Hall, the funds that are planned for savings will be used to finance programs promoting economic growth and infrastructure projects.

In what ways  the city authorities are  tightening their belts?

According to Tbilisi Mayor David Narmania, after March 6, 2015, when the government announced its intention to reduce the costs, the City Hall audited the budget resulting in savings of GEL 1.8 million – of this amount  GEL 300 000 directly affected administrative expenses, GEL 1.5 million – premium fund.

However, according to the Mayor, in spite of this, the most honored individual employees will still receive premiums.

At the same time, representatives of the oppositional Unites National Movement (UNM) say that the City Hall tightens their belts only at the expense of middle and lower classes.

“Saving  of GEL 1.8 million is not enough in a situation when  the City Hall budget  provides  GEL 90 million in administrative expenses. So, we are not talking about any serious “belt-tightening”. Not to mention other, very inappropriate costs which  no one is going to cut – for example, the City Hall plans to spend GEL 400 000 on the exterior lighting of the building of the Ministry of the Interior. These are completely unnecessary and  superfluous expenses. So the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office has not worked on this issue. Let us hope that the work will continue and we’ll see what they will present to the City Council. Obviously, the Mayor’s Office doesn’t  clearly understand the  situation,”- Irakli Abesadze , the MP from the National Movement,  notes.

The UNM faction demands from the Mayor to come to the meeting of the Finance and Budget Committee of City Council for a detailed consideration of public funds saving, but David Narmania did not respond to this demand, and at the same time did not allow the oppositional  MPs  to participate  in the meeting of the city government.

Aleko Elisashvili, an independent MP, also  does not know when the  City Hall intends to submit the cost saving plan.

He suggests the consideration will be noisy, but the ruling majority in the City Council will be able to approve the document presented by the Mayor’s Office.

“The administrative costs may be reduced by GEL 20 million. So it would be correct if the Mayor’s Office spent less on themselves, and more – on damaged buildings. In itself it is absurd that GEL 7.5 million were allocated for  the strengthening of damaged buildings. This is the policy of “belt- tightening” from the City Hall,”- the deputy says.

In his words, the budget costs can be reduced even at the expense of spending on vehicles, but officials cannot abandon  privilege and comfort.

“That is why the announced savings in the amount  of GEL 1. 8 million  is just dust in the eyes of the people,” – Aleko Elisashvili adds.