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Discussing the second draft of the 2014 state budget at the plenary session of the Georgian Parliament on 14 November, the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Science, Ivane Kighuradze, stated: “The funding for science has decreased by GEL 2 million. I made this conclusion based upon the numbers you presented. A total of GEL 35.732 million was allocated for the support of science and research this year. Additionally, another GEL 10 million was allocated for university support; research institutions within these universities were subsidized by GEL 5 million out of this amount. Overall, the funding totalled GEL 40.720 million. Comparing this figure to the current budget, GEL 38.425 million, we see that GEL 2.235 million went missing without leaving a trace.”

FactCheck set out to verify the accuracy of this statement and look into the abovementioned issue.    

Ivane Kighuradze made this statement at the plenary session of the Parliament while discussing the second draft of the state budget of 2014. The Ministry of Finance revised the draft budget and submitted its third version to the Parliament while the research for this article was still in the process. Of course, we are investigating Kighuradze’s statement in respect to the second version of the draft budget. However, we will also explore whether or not his comments received due attention.

The amount of GEL 38.425 million was allocated for a science and research support programme in the second draft of the 2014 state budget. This amount exceeds the indicator of the last year by GEL 2.693 million.

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As highlighted in the second draft of the 2014 state budget, the programme encompasses funding for the following organisations:  LEPL-National Centre for Manuscripts, LEPL-Georgian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, LEPL-Ivane Beritashvili Centre for Experimental Biomedicine, LEPL-Giorgi Eliava Institute of Bacteriophages, Microbiology and Virology; LEPL-Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation and LEPL-Georgian National Academy of Sciences. The programme aims at supporting fundamental and applied research, the development of research infrastructure and young scientists, profound collaboration with the international research community, organising scientific forums and conferences in Georgia, monitoring of the activities of state research grantees and financial support of distinguished scientists.

Additionally, as the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Science highlighted, the draft of the state budget did not envisage the funding of a support programme for higher educational institutions that in 2013 comprised GEL 10.5 million and in 2012 – GEL 18.030 million.

Supporting Higher Educational Establishments (32 04 01)
Unit implementing the sub-programme Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia
Description and objectives of the sub-programme Openness and accessibility of higher education, academic freedom of teaching, learning and research, opportunity for lifelong learning education, participation of academic staff and students in decision-making processes and evaluation of the performance of these processes, preparation of individuals to use scientific knowledge and research methods. The sub-programme supports:a) Professional development of personnel of higher educational institutionsb) Exchange of academic staff with the relevant foreign academic institutionsc) Rehabilitation of the material basis of institutions, providing state-of-the-art equipment and technology for higher educational institutions
Expected mid-term outcomes
Assessment indicators for expected mid-term outcomes
  1. Equipment of higher educational institutions with the appropriate material-technical basis
  2. Number of higher educational institutions actively involved in research activities
  3. The number of alumni of higher educational institutions trained in accordance to international standards

According to the 2013 state budget, the abovementioned programme aimed at accessibility and oppenness of higher education, freedom of teaching, learning and research, opportunity for lifelong learning, participation of academic staff and students in decision-making processes and evaluation of the performance of these processes, preparation of individuals to use scientific knowledge and research methods. The programme provided funding for the professional development of personnel of higher educational institutions, international cooperation, exchange of academic staff with relevant foreign academic institutions, rehabilitation of the material basis of institutions, providing state-of-the-art equipment and technology for higher educational institutions.

In 2013 GEL 4.988 million from GEL 10.5 million was in fact allocated to subsidise universities: Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University received GEL 2.683 million, Georgian Technical University received GEL 1.216 million, Tbilisi State Medical University – GEL 328,000, Akaki Tsereteli State University – GEL 110,000 and Samtskhe-Javakheti State Teaching University – GEL 150,000.

The new (third) draft of the state budget anticipates a total of GEL 49.707 million for supporting science and research that exceeds the last year’s data by 13.975 million. Additionally, the final draft does not provide any funding for a higher educational institution support programme.

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Therefore, taking into account the number mentioned by Ivane Kighuradze (35.732 million + 4.988 million = 40.720 million), it can deduced that the funding of this direction has been increased by GEL 8.987 million as compared to the last year (49.707 million – 40.720 million).

Conclusion

The second draft of the 2014 state budget provided funding of GEL 38.425 million for the science and research support programme that exceeds the last year’s data by GEL 2.693 million. This draft does not provide any funding for the higher educational institution support programme that comprised GEL 10.5 million in 2013 and GEL 18.030 million in 2012. Of this amount, a total of GEL 4.988 million was allocated to subsidise universities. If we consider this fact as support to science, this means that a total of GEL 40.720 million has been allocated in this respect in 2013 that exceeds the sum provided for this purpose in the 2014 state budget (GEL 38.425 million) by GEL 2.295 million.

At the same time, the final draft of the state budget provides funding of GEL 49.707 million for supporting science and research instead of GEL 38.425 million, exceeding the last year’s indicator by GEL 13.975 million. The final draft budget still envisages no funds for higher educational institutions, Kighuradze’s criticism does not concern this fact, however. Therefore, considering the amount (GEL 40.720 million) named by Kighuradze, it becomes evident that as compared to the last year, the funding (GEL 49.707 million) of this nature has been increased by GEL 8.987 million.

However, as mentioned earlier, we are investigating the truthfulness of Ivane Kighuradze’s statement in respect to the second draft of the budget. Therefore, FactCheck concludes that the statement of the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Science: “The funding for science has decreased by GEL 2 million. I made this conclusion based upon the numbers you presented. A total of GEL 35.732 million was allocated for the support of science and research this year. Additionally, another GEL 10 million was allocated for university support; research institutions within these universities were subsidized by GEL 5 million out of this amount. Overall, the funding totalled GEL 40.720 million. Comparing this figure to the current budget, GEL 38.425 million, we see that GEL 2.235 million went missing without leaving a trace,” is TRUE.

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