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NGO Reports Ruling Party Spends 50 mln for PR Service

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, March 5
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Transparency International (TI) Georgia says in October 2012-2017 the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party spent around Gel 50 million on salaries of PR employees.

The survey, which is based on information received from 121 public agencies, showed that 55.4 million GEL was spent on the salaries of the press service employees of state agencies in 2012-2017, from which 49.75 million GEL was spent after the Georgian Dream came into power.

In 2012, the total number of employees of the press office stood at 423 persons, in 2016, their number reached 690. As for the salaries of the PR staff in 2016, a record amount - GEL 12.4 million was spent, which is almost twice as high as the amount of salaries spent in 2012 - 6.4 million GEL.

The NGO added they were not provided by data of twelve state agencies, including the Georgian government's administration, the Revenue Service and the Justice House.

The document also does not include lobbying services purchased by state institutions and the ruling party abroad.

The survey showed that the Ministry of Internal Affairs spent the most money on the salaries of the employees of the press service, which amounted to 5.3 million lari for five years, followed by the Ministry of Defense and Health Ministry which spent 3.8 million GEL and 3.600 million GEL respectively.

According to the NGO, the Georgian Dream government is constantly appealing that the population is not properly informed about the activities of the government.

“However, analysis of official documents shows that since 2012 the number of employees and the amount of money spent on the press service is increasing,” the TI Georgia stated, adding this might indicate to “misuse” of budgetary funds.

The Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, Davit Sergeenko does not agree with the results of the TI survey.

“I have doubts that the TI added too many zeroes to the real number of expenses. Last year 317.000 GEL was spent for PR action and it was necessary for the campaign of hepatitis C elimination program,” the minister added.

TI Director General, Eka Gigauri said that they will re-address the state agencies which have not provided information about their PR expenses yet.

“If they refuse to send us the information, we will apply to court,” Gigauri stated.