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Saakashvili “dismounted” the officials15.04.2010 | 00:21
Georgia reduced the governmental transport expenses, having deprived some of the officials of their personal company cars. Is the Georgian financial situation really that bad and is there any sense in saving expenses by means of this budget line? GeorgiaTimes interlocutors have taken Mikhail Saakashvili's decision skeptically.
The governmental expenses should be cut in the context of the crisis: no arguing at this point. Last spring, Georgia sequestered budget expenditure for the state office by 10 million laris (that is, about 6 million dollars). Not only Georgia did so; the whole Europe started cutting the budget. As to Russia with the whole of its civil service, the country saved 38 billion rubles (over one billion dollars) on the telephone communication, business trips and company cars of various managers.
However, why pulling in the belt now that Georgia, according to the statements of the high-ranking officials, is coming out of the crisis?
According to the president's order, the governmental car fleet has been reduced to 30 cars. It is the president's parliamentary secretary, his deputy, advisors and the heads of a number of structural subdivisions of the office who were denied the privilege.
Why does Saakashvili need it? Economical expert of Movement for Fair Georgia Teimuraz Murgulia believes that the reason lies with the coming elections.
- Each medal is double-sized. The elections are coming, so the government is trying hard to show that it can save money. But it is not so. Let us, for instance, take the pedestrian bridge over the river of Kura in Tbilisi built by architect Michele Delucci: the construction cost 30 million dollars. Mind that there is another bridge already 50 meters away. Compared to such expenditures, the reduction of two of three cars is nothing.
- Do you believe that saving on the officials' transport is reasonable?
- It depends on the officials and the cars. As is known, our government changes the car fleet every year. Of course, there are certain tasks that require the use of the smart company cars but all governmental cars are changed annually and the old ones are sold out at the auctions. And look at what they buy: they buy the smartest cars. This is not natural and does not correspond to the country's domestic situation. I believe the cars will be taken from those who are in disgrace, or it will be a temporary measure and everything will be as usual as soon as the authorities win the local elections.
- On what would you advise the government to save?
- The state should reduce needless expenses. The irrational use of the budget is the gravest problem of Georgia. The Georgian Chamber of Accounts should perform audits of the efficiency of the means application. Instead, it is busy revising the financial documents and checking their execution. Each year it could find a lot of needless expenditures, such as that bridge. The next thing: roads are constructed in Georgia, and it is good; still, the road construction requires inadequate means. The country's budget became absolutely unclear within the last four years. Earlier, there was a clear explanation opposite each figure, saying what the money will be spent on, and now it is just a table with some figures that is impossible to understand. As to the state, not only does it turn a blind eye on the groundless expenses but also uses the budget means to steal the elections.
At the same time, in the opinion of a common person, the reduction of the officials' amenities seems to be a step forward. For instance, in Russia, where the car drivers started another action against the alarms on the officials' cars, Saakashvili's idea would probably be welcomed. However, there is a different viewpoint. According to Vice President of the Car Drivers Movement Leonid Olshanskiy, reducing personal company cars is not only unnecessary but is harmful as well.
- I do not think Saakashvili's experience should be applied to Russia. Each country has got its own peculiarities, and Russia will always be a country of forms, personal queries and flashing lights. If the officials are deprived of their cars, business travel expenses will grow then. Better let them use their company cars. The technical state of the cars in the governmental car fleet and the drivers' soberness is checked twice a day. The governmental cars are driven by professionals, and if an official is driving a car alone it might present certain danger for the traffic because the officials need to read documents, talk on the phone and work on their way. Just imagine them driving a car at the same time! So let those having company cars have them.
- Still, there is surely someone in Russia whose car could be taken away?
- No. There is another point here. It is very important for us to support the domestic car production, so we need to replace the officials' cars by the Russian ones. It is not right that they drive foreign models. I would give a ZIL to Sergey Mironov and Boris Gryzlov, a Chaika to their deputies and a Volga to the chairmen of the committees and deputy ministers. And what do I see now when I come to the regional administration? There are only foreign-made cars there.