Opposition Connects Budget Amendments with Upcoming Elections
Inga Gvasalia, Poti
United National Movement is particularly generous to voters before elections. The ruling party tries to gain hearts of voters. Besides walking in villages and giving promises to everybody, the pre-election campaign of the National Movement includes employment of people in public agencies or sending already employed people to paid or unpaid holidays. The latter spend their holidays in the election HQs and work in favor of the ruling party.
If we rely on public information requested from Poti City Council by Humanrights.ge, this trend is increasing every year. Bonuses added to salaries of the public officials also increase during election year while the list of staff members has increased with 5 for the last two years.
More amendments have been introduced to the budget to shift expenditures in self-governments during pre-election period. Funds for “unforeseen activities” were increased just before the election in Poti 2012 budget. The net value increased and amounted to 290303, 6 lari. The expenses of social and healthcare programs also increased; funds for the installment of illumination systems in residential buildings, illuminations on the buildings and street illuminations also increased.
Chairman of the Infrastructure Commission at Poti Municipal Board and chairman of Poti office of the Democratic Movement – United Georgia Gocha Dolbaia said government is preparing to falsify election by using administrative resources. “I connect all recent budget amendments with the election campaign. They try to gain hearts of people. If other parties do something like that, they will be blamed in bribery and fined with millions. 70-80% of population was ignored by the government during many years. Nobody supported social programs. They should have allocated those sums at the beginning of the year but they did it now. I think it is not correct. City residents have some more important problems like channels, street illumination and other infrastructure activities but they are not popular for the government and they prefer to have chance to reproach people – we have done this and that for you…So I think such sudden amendments to the budget aim at pre-election process and gaining hearts and bribing of people. Employees of all budget-funded institutions are ordered to bring certain number of people to the elections to vote for the National Movement. The government has been working in this direction for several months already. Number of personnel in budget-funded agencies is exaggerated. I raised this question at the city council several times but in vain. Many people do not do anything in those organizations except drinking coffee but they vote for the National Movement and work for them. The City Hall and City Council waste budget funds instead effective work and reasonable expenditure of budget funds. There is no single employee of the governmental institution, who does not work for the elections. Ordinary people do not see it but we all know it. They call people – workers of terminals, shops and various trading organizations and intimidate them. This is government’s approach. It allows me to declare that they are preparing for falsification of the elections,” Dolbaia said.
Chairman of the Poti city organization of the Christian Democrat Movement and deputy chair of city council Lasha Beria speaks about incorrectly allocated budget funds and attempted bribery of voters. “I think, funds were distributed without relevant priorities. The funds were to be spent on the renovation of yards instead painting of building facades. Both of them were to be done but we should have selected prioritative one. Painting of facades directly aims at bribing voters. They try to gain hearts of more Poti residents by increasing funds. The local government shall be separated from any political party but they work together and there is no boundary between them.”
Representatives of the government have different opinion and deny accusations of opposition party members as usually. Head of Financial Service of the City Hall Sulkhan Tolordava thinks the opposition’s criticism is groundless.
He told humanrights.ge that funds were allocated from the president’s fund and central budget for the ongoing activities and it amounted to 5 million lari by July. He categorically denies any connection between those funds and election. “Opposition’s accusations are groundless. We had social allowances and programs in the past too and they still continue. It is ordinary process. Sometimes funds are allocated from the central budget at the beginning of the year, sometimes at the end of the ear. We focus on priorities and we will continue working in the same way in future too.”