“Miscellaneous” means Saakashvili22.10.2010 | 20:22
Discussion of the Georgian budget resembles a conversation between a deaf and a blind man separated by a sound-proof wall. The country's authorities assure the people that the draft budget 2011 is a step leading the country to a happy future and financial stability. The opposition continues criticizing the government's plans. Moreover, President of the country Mikheil Saakasvhili is accused of an attempt to turn part of the country budget into something like "pocket money".
Georgian Minister of Finance Kakha Baindurashvili recently told the journalists about the directions rated by the authorities as priority ones while planning the next year budget. As was noted by member of the Georgian Cabinet, the government managed to ensure the financing of some budget items using the "belt-tightening" policy. According to him, the agricultural programs maintenance will be increased several times. Neither will the Georgian government forget about various infrastructure projects and the promise to grant two thousand laris to the teachers able to fluently speak Shakespeare's language.
However, the major attention of the Georgian society is focused on an article called Miscellaneous in various budgets. For instance, according to leader of oppositional party Our Georgia - Free Democrats Irakly Alasania, the 2011 budget provides 500 million dollars for "miscellaneous". According to former Georgian permanent representative to UN, this money will be uncontrollably spent by President Mikheil Saakashvili. It should also be noted that Alasania is known for his critical position in respect of budget 2011 when he mentioned its wrong planning and made-up increase.
Why is Mikheil Saakasvhili trying to snatch such a solid lump from the country's budget for his "pocket expenses"? It's quite probable that with such a nice money-box, the head of the Georgian state will be able to make happy the Georgian state employees by increasing their salary, pension and allowances. Another point is that the increase will be miserable. But never mind, the obedient media will quickly explain to the people to what extent they should be happy and to whom it should be grateful. Besides, this heap of money of almost one billion laris looks rather curious in the context of rumors about the possible early parliamentary elections. It is clear that the administrative resource will be anyway used by the party in power to the maximum but there can be no spare tetri in such noble intention as the victory in parliamentary elections and Mikheil Saakashvili's further accession to the prime minister's seat.
Well-known Georgian economic expert Georgy Khukhashvili shares the opinion that the means of the concealed budget item should be spent on settling political problems of the current ruling regime in Georgia. "Today's budget really looks rather optimistic. In general, it is feasible but it contains unclear items, which are very important. Large sums of money go as Miscellaneous; there's something about one billion laris. They are not stated at all. Still, we cannot say this is corruption money. As a rule, in such country as Georgia, as well as in Russia, this kind of money is spent on various political projects and I believe in this case the means are aimed to complete the political tasks of the ruling elite", - Khukhashvili said in his interview to GeorgiaTimes correspondent.
"As we can see from the draft budget, there is no protectionism of economic processes development in Georgia. They are trying to represent the budget as an extended economical field, while in fact, the budget is being decreased. It already implies tax growth. Where will the government take money for this or that project implementation? From us, of course", - he added.
Neither does the expert agree with the statements of the governmental officials about their successful struggle with Georgia's dependence on various kinds of import. "The current budget is definitely import-oriented. No one is going to leave money inside economy, - Khukhasvhili is sure. - We have turned into a consuming country, and so far, I can see no attempts to correct the situation on the government's part, so the problem is only going to be aggravated".
Georgy Khukhashvili has also paid attention to the official Tbilisi's contemptuous attitude toward the social field of the budget. "Our social field has been neglected for a long time, and no one is going to improve the situation. The government promises to raise the level of social protection but it does nothing. So far, we may only see the growth of inflation and the increase of prices for basic consumer goods. One should also take into account the permanently growing army of pensioners, who should be provided for by the state. Georgia has got one of the lowest pensions in the whole of the post-Soviet space. It is only Kirghizia that goes behind us. In the context of discussing the draft budget, I can say that is a significant growth of social strain coming next year. One should also expect greater political risks that will affect both the social and economical fields. It all suggests a rather unpleasant prospect for the next-year budget", - Khukhashvili stated.