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On 23 July 2014, at the extra plenary session of the Parliament, MPs listened to the 2013 annual budget implementation report. MP of the Parliamentary Minority, Nugzar Tsiklauri, asked about the finances allocated to the Ministry of Defence. The MP addressed the Minister of Finance of Georgia, Nodar Khaduri, as follows: “The defence budget in 2012 was GEL 735 million. In 2013 it was reduced to GEL 660 million. This was the first budget approved by the Georgian Dream coalition and it reflects your team’s attitude towards the field of defence – slashing its budget by GEL 120 million. It should also be noted that according to your plan, the defence budget will return to 2012 levels only in 2016.”

As a response to Mr Tsiklauri’s statement, the Minister of Finance of Georgia stated: “We gave an additional GEL 60 million to the Ministry of Defence in 2012 […]. Since Delta was separated from the Ministry of Defence and became part of the Ministry of Economy, respective funds were taken from the former. The funding of the Ministry of Defence is not being reduced. In fact, it will increase next year.”

FactCheck took interest in the facts given in these statements and verified their accuracy.

As of April 2014, the total budget of the Ministry of Defence is GEL 660,848,000. In 2013, the total budget was equal to GEL 660,000,000. As for 2012, the funds allocated for the Ministry of Defence were indeed equal to GEL 734,733,800 as stated by Nugzar Tsiklauri. In total, GEL 80 million less was allocated for the maintaining and increasing of the readiness of the armed forces in 2013 than in 2012. In 2014 the amount was further reduced by GEL 9.35 million and amounted to GEL 586,304,000. The overall reduction of the budget is mainly due to the reduction in the aforementioned field since the funding in other fields such as military education, health and social care for Ministry personnel and scientific research in the field of defence, have been increased as compared to 2012.

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However, it should be noted that before the budget amendment of December 2012, the finances allocated to the Ministry of Defence were equal to GEL 676,500,000 as stated by the Minister of Finance. The growth mainly affected the article about maintaining and increasing the readiness of the armed forces. Before the amendment the funds allocated for this field amounted to GEL 623,932,800 whereas after the amendment they grew to GEL 677,326,300.

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Since the MP of the Minority criticised the government for reducing the defence budget in their very first year of office, FactCheck also took interest in the defence segment of the 2013 budget plan as presented by the United National Movement to the Parliament.

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According to the data, the United National Movement’s 2013 budget plan allocated GEL 690,000,000 for the field of defence which is more than the GEL 676,500,000 planned in 2012 but less than the actual figure of the same year which equalled to GEL 734,733,800.

The estimated funds for the defence budget for the following years can be found in the Country Basic Data and Directions for 2014-2017 (BDD).

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According to the document, the estimated funding for the Ministry of Defence for 2016 is GEL 736,577,000 which is the closest to the 2012 levels.

The data about the funding of the Ministry of Defence can also be found in the Strategic Review of Defence 2013-2016 ratified by the Ministry in 2013.

The chart (Plan No. 8) which is included in this article shows the amounts of defence funds from 2004 to 2016 based upon the calculation made by the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Finance. According to the calculations and analysis, in the time period covered by the document the defence budget will be close to the level recommended by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) – 2% of the GDP. It should be noted that, according to the document, the estimated defence funds for 2014 are GEL 60,000,000 more than the actual ones.

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“Our request is an 11% growth of the defence budget and we hope that the approval of the Parliament will be unanimous,” said Mr Alasania at the committee hearing which was held in terms of the discussions preceding the vote of confidence for the new Cabinet. According to the Minister, the growth of the defence budget was justified by the dangers existing in the region and the aggressive actions of Russia against Ukraine. Thus, in the case of the approval of the Parliament the funding for the Ministry of Defence should be equal to GEL 732.6 million.On 25 July, during the committee hearing, Minister of Defence of Georgia, Irakli Alasania, also made a statement about the defence budget. According to Alasania’s statement, his Ministry and the Ministry of Finance have serious work to do since he has requested an 11% growth of the defence budget for the following year and is hopeful for the approval of both the Parliamentary Majority and the Minority as well. The 2014 defence budget is equal to GEL 660 million and its 11% amounts to GEL 72.6 million.

FactCheck also studied the part of the statement of the Minister of Finance where he explained the defence budget reduction by the Delta military scientific-technological centre’s becoming a part of the Ministry of Economy. The Delta military scientific-technological centre was previously a subdivision of the Ministry of Defence.

The decision about repositioning Delta was made by the Government on 11 March 2014 and, therefore, could not have affected the 2013 defence budget. Furthermore, Delta is funded from the defence budget even in 2014. The Ministry of Economy has also confirmed this.

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Conclusion

The defence funding of 2012 was GEL 734,733,800; however, it reached this number only after the budget amendment of December 2012. Before this, the defence budget was GEL 676,500,000. The 2013 budget of the Ministry of Defence was reduced by GEL 75 million and amounted to GEL 660,000,000. According to the Country Basic Data and Directions for 2014-2017 (BDD) document, the estimated funds allocated for the Ministry of Defence for 2016 is GEL 736,577,000 which is the closest to the budget level of 2012.

Hence, FactCheck concludes that Nugzar Tsiklauri’s statement: “The defence budget in 2012 was GEL 735 million. In 2013 it was reduced to GEL 660 million. This was the first budget approved by the Georgian Dream coalition and it reflects your team’s attitude towards the field of defence – slashing its budget by GEL 120 million. It should also be noted that according to your plan, the defence budget will return to 2012 levels only in 2016,” is HALF TRUE.

As for the statement of the Minister of Finance, in terms of the budget amendment of December 2012, an extra GEL 60 million was allocated for the Ministry of Defence. The Country Basic Data and Directions for 2014-2017 (BDD) document does include the gradual growth of the defence budget. The part of the statement of the Minister of Finance, where he explained the defence budget reduction by the Delta military scientific-technological centre’s becoming part of the Ministry of Economy, is not correct. The decision about repositioning Delta was made by the Government on 11 March 2014 and, therefore, it could not have affected the 2013 defence budget. Furthermore, Delta is funded from the defence budget even in 2014. The Ministry of Economy has also confirmed this.

Thus, we conclude that Nodar Khaduri’s statement: “We gave an additional GEL 60 million to the Ministry of Defence in 2012 […]. Since Delta was separated from the Ministry of Defence and became part of the Ministry of Economy, respective funds were taken from the former. The funding of the Ministry of Defence is not being reduced. In fact, it will increase next year,” is HALF TRUE.


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