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Second Mid-term Report of State Audit Office Raises Concerns

By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Friday, November 10
A second mid-term report of State Audit Office reveals that the total expenses of political parties in the timeframe of August 22 - October 21, 2017 was GEL 16 861 130.

According to the report published in the beginning of this week, in the period of August 22 - October 21, political parties received GEL 18 167 797 donation in total. In particular, Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia received GEL 9 855 337, European Georgia got GEL 1 463 358; United National Movement received - GEL 1 283 754, United Democratic Movement - GEL 675 555, State for the People – GEL 431 693, Alliance of Patriots – GEL 642 673, New Christian Democrats - GEL 399 594, and Freedom - the Way of Zviad Gamsakhurdia – GEL 402 002.

The report also published this year’s distribution of expenditures of political parties:
• Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia - GEL 11 651 146;
• European Georgia – GEL 929 584;
• National Movement – GEL 735 090;
• Alliance of Patriots – GEL 797 022;
• New Christian Democrats – GEL 397 327;
• State for the People – GEL 336 893;
• United Democratic Movement – GEL 246 891;
• Freedom - the way to Zviad Gamsakhurdia – GEL 394 040.

According to the Georgian legislation, the listed parties are „qualified subjects,“ which means that they have collected more than 3% of the votes in the last parliamentary or local government elections. The amount of financing allocated from the state budget offers a different distribution:
• Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia- GEL 2 082 238;
• European Georgia – GEL 895 726;
• National Movement – GEL 1 122 526;
• Alliance of Patriots – GEL 744 008;
• New Christian Democrats - GEL 87 024;
• State for the People – GEL 195 511;
• United Democratic Movement – GEL 997 037;
• Freedom - the Way to Zviad Gamsakhurdia – GEL 87 024.

According to data, most of the listed parties exceeded their annual financing from the central budget in past two months. It is clear individual sponsors or initiative groups are the main sources of funding for Georgian political parties. The publication of the report has been followed with criticism from the side of non-governmental sector representatives. Their main concern is that the Georgian Dream (GD) has received an amount of donation, which has been donated to all other parties altogether. In addition, the identity of 22 donors raised doubts as their declared incomes extended the money donated.

The non-governmental sector also speaks about the shortcomings in the legislation and methodology. Vladimir Bozhadze, Head of Civil Society and Democracy Development Center, stated that the draft amendments to the Organic Law of Georgia about Political Associations of Citizens have already been developed and sent to Parliament.

"As for the methodology, there are changes to be implemented connected with the regulation of incentive groups. . . after the elections, initiative groups stop their existence and it is impossible to fine them. None of the initiative groups have presented reports for the third term because the elections are over for them," said Bozhadze.

The information on the identity of donors to political parties should be public and transparent. In case, a person gives more money to any political party than their declared income, it only speaks of two facts: first, there could be a case of tax avoidance and failure to report taxable income, or second, a real donator prefers to stay anonymous using other person’s identity. In both cases, it is an issue that needs to be looked in further.