On 25 November 2014, whilst delivering a speech at the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia, United National Movement MP, Sergo Ratiani, elaborated on the issue of educational grants which the state was to transfer to students. He stated: "If I remember correctly, the educational grants for students used to be transferred quarterly. What happened this year? Never have the transfers been so late. They were usually made at the beginning, middle or at the end of the quarter but never later… A total of GEL 16 million of this year’s grants… have still not been transferred."

FactCheck

took interest in Mr Ratiani’s statement and verified its accuracy.

In his conversation with us Sergo Ratiani explained that he made the above statement based upon the six-month State Budget Implementation Report of 2014. According to the six month plan of the 2014 state budget, a total of GEL 37,683,700 was allocated for state educational, master’s degree, PhD and youth support programmes. As for the actual amount spent on the programmes, it equalled GEL 21,715,200 which means that the implementation was short by GEL 16 million and the plan was implemented by 57.6%.

Table 1:

Six-Month Plan and Implementation of the Educational Grants Part of the 2014 State Budget

State Educational, Master’s Degree, PhD and Youth Support Programmes

6 Month Plan

Implementation

Implementation (%)

Difference

37.7 (Million)

21.7 (Million)

57.6%

-15.9 (Million)

Source: State Budget of Georgia

It is interesting to take a look at the nine-month State Budget Implementation Report as well. According to the Report, the initial planned amount equalled GEL 58,095,000 whilst the actual implementation amounted to GEL 49,087,800 which means that the nine-month implementation was short by GEL 9 million, reaching 84.5%.

Table 2:

Nine-Month Plan and Implementation of the Educational Grants Part of the 2014 State Budget

State Educational, Master’s Degree, PhD and Youth Support Programmes

9 Month Plan

Implementation

Implementation (%)

Difference

58.0 (Million)

49.0 (Million)

84.5%

-9.0 (Million)

Source: State Budget of Georgia

FactCheck

also looked into the statistics of the previous years. The amounts of money allocated in the state budget for state educational, master’s degree, PhD and youth support programmes look like this:

Table 3:

Six- and Nine-Month Plans and Implementation of the Educational Grants Part of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 State Budgets

Year

6

Month Plan

(Million)

Implementation

(Million – %)

Difference (Million)

9 Month Plan

(Million)

Implementation

(Million – %)

Difference (Million)

2011

19.1

17.7 (92.7%)

-1.4

28.3

26.8 (94.8%)

-1.5

2012

27.2

22.4 (82.5%)

-4.8

52.8

48.1 (91.0%)

-4.7

2013

34.41

15.7 (45.6%)

-18.96

45.7

41.5 (90.8%)

-4.2

Source: State Budget of Georgia

As we can see, the differences between the initial plan and the implementation of the educational grants part of the state budget have been observed every year and the six- and nine-month State Budget Implementation Reports of 2014 have not been an exception. The lowest level of implementation in the educational grants part of the budget has been observed in the six-month implementation reports of 2013 and 2014. However, the percentage of implementation was significantly higher in the nine-month implementation reports.

As the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia explained to us, the fact that there is a shortage in the implementation of the educational grants part of the state budget in the six-month implementation reports is not a problem and the universities will fully receive their respective grants by the end of the last quarter. In reply to our question of whether or not this kind of transfer policy hinders the work of the universities, we were told that the universities are familiar with such transfer mechanisms and plan their main expenses for the end of the year. Hence, according to the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, this does not hinder the work of the universities and, more importantly, causes no problems for the students.

We checked the information about state educational grants with the universities as well. We were told at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University that the late transfer of the state educational grants does not directly affect the students and their status. However, in the case of a late transfer of certain amounts of money the university could experience problems in terms of expenses and might be forced to mobilise resources from other reserves. However, such processes cause no serious problems for the university as the state fully transfers educational grants by the end of the year.

In his conversation with us, Chancellor of the Free University, Vato Lezhava, explained that his university has experienced no serious interruptions in the state educational grants transfer so far and the full transfers will probably be made by the end of the year. He also explained that real problems will be caused if the state does not make the scheduled transfers at all and this will happen systematically. It would hinder the implementation of the events that the university had planned with this amount.

Conclusion

Our study revealed that there definitely is a big difference between the six- and nine-month implementation reports of the educational grants part of the state budget. According to the data of the first six months of 2014, the implementation was short by GEL 16 million whilst according to the nine-month data this number was down to GEL 9 million. However, the study also found that this has not hindered the work of the universities and has not affected students. According to the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, the allocated money will be fully transferred to the universities by the end of December. Hence, the dramatisation of this fact by the MP is excessive. In addition, the differences between the initial plan and the implementation of the educational grants part of the state budget have been observed every year and the six- and nine-month State Budget Implementation Reports of 2014 have not been an exception.

FactCheck will return to this issue in the future as well. At this stage, however, we conclude that Sergo Ratiani’s statement: "Of this year’s educational grants for students, a total of GEL 16 million has not been transferred," is MOSTLY FALSE.

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