“The only criticism” expected in address of the authorities in a pre-election period is allegations about “abuse of administrative resources,” President Saakashvili told an audience at Washington-based think-tank, Atlantic Council, on April 15.
“But we are going to use whatever resources we have [in order] to improve people’s life, even if they say we are abusing it [administrative resources]; OK we are abusing it, but we’ll still do it; but I think it’s legal,” Saakashvili said.
Saakashvili mentioned “limitation on abuse of administration resources” while responding a question from the audience about what his administration was doing to secure free and fair local elections planned for May 30. He listed limitations on use of administrative resources among other measures, like providing opposition more airtime through turning public TV’s second channel into political programming, as well as funding of parties to allow them to re-check voter lists.
“There will always be a bunch of experts from abroad who will say: ‘Oh, you should stop this road making, school building and bridge building and healthcare changes and new hospitals and all kind of stuff, because it’s helping the government and it’s like spending budget for electoral needs’. I wonder how Mayor of D.C. or Chicago win their elections. I [say] clearly to every foreigner: forget it; we will build bridges, we will build roads, we will build schools, we will make sure people have nicer municipal infrastructure environment, they have nicer healthcare, better schools for kids and maybe they’ll vote for us because of that; but that’s their decision. We take blame for everything that’s not good in Georgia and… at least we should claim credit for what is left,” Saakashvili said.
“I think that will be the only criticism, frankly; I do not think anybody can criticize us on media,” he added.
Late last month, Transparency International-Georgia released a report on use of administrative resources ahead of the May 30 local elections. The report notes “an unprecedented increase” in the funding of local self-government bodies, including of the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office ahead of the polls.
Incumbent Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi Ugulava, who is expected to run for re-election, said in a rebuttal of the report that his administration’s policies, including social programs had no electoral motives.
On April 15 Transparency International-Georgia responded with a statement saying that analyze of use of administrative resources during election and non-election years revealed “an increase in public spending during election years.”
“The alternative conclusion would be that not enough money was spent during non-election years and the [Mayor’s] Office is striving to make amends prior to the elections. Either way, election-year spending is significantly higher than non-election year spending,” TI-Georgia said.