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The 2016 Tbilisi City budget has become a topic of heated debates. The main complaint of the opposition is the increased wage funds for municipal services and boards. Tbilisi City Council member, Irakli Abesadze, said the following about this issue: “We proposed that Tbilisi City Hall increase the wages of bus drivers, cashiers and janitors but Mr Narmania told us that there is no financial possibility to do so. However, we can see that they have found a way to do this for themselves and their friends.” Mayor of Tbilisi, Davit Narmania, commented upon this statement saying that: “Neither the wage fund nor wage supplements have increased. The thing is that other types of funding have also been summarised into this budget line. If you take a look at the details, you will see that the wage fund has not been increased.”

We attempted to verify the accuracy of these statements and went through the 2016 Tbilisi City budget plan.

According to the 2016 Tbilisi City budget plan, remuneration (Article 2.1) was set at GEL 104.5 million which is GEL 61 million more than the amount of money allocated for the same purpose in 2015 (GEL 43.5 million). It should also be noted that the number of people employed by Tbilisi City Hall will reach 5,794 in 2016 which is 1,876 more than in 2015 (3,918). According to the 2016 Tbilisi City budget plan’s explanatory note, the increase in the remuneration budget line is due to treasury reform. The wage funds of the non-commercial legal entities and legal entities of public law which were established by Tbilisi City Hall were incorporated into the general wage fund determined in the 2016 Tbilisi City budget plan which was earlier not the case. Tbilisi City Hall has founded a total of six legal entities of public law and ten non-commercial legal entities.

We attempted to study the Tbilisi City Hall wage fund in detail without including the non-commercial legal entities or legal entities of public law. Hence, we looked into the remuneration funds of Tbilisi City Council, Tbilisi City Hall Administration, City Hall municipal services and municipal boards.

Table 1:Remuneration Funds of Tbilisi City Council, Tbilisi City Hall Administration, City Hall Municipal Services and Municipal Boards in 2015 and 2016 (GEL Thousand)

Budget Tbilisi City Council Tbilisi City Hall Administration Municipal Services Municipal Boards Sum
2015 – Plan 6,865.4 5,126.1 17,531 13,962 43,485
2016 – Project 7,102.2 6,024.1 20,428.9 16,814.1 50,369
Difference 236.8 898 2,897.1 2,852 6,885

As the table makes clear, the remuneration funds of Tbilisi City Council, Tbilisi City Hall Administration, City Hall municipal services and municipal boards have indeed increased as compared to 2015 and the overall growth amounts to GEL 6.9 million. It should also be noted that none of the aforementioned structures have increased the number of their employees. Hence, the wage fund of Tbilisi City Hall is not only increasing because the wage funds of non-commercial legal entities and legal entities of public law have been added to it but also because the remuneration of the remaining structures mentioned above are being increased by GEL 6.9 million.

In his statement, Irakli Abesadze talks about the wages of bus drivers, cashiers and janitors. Hence, we attempted to find out whether or not the 2016 Tbilisi City budget plan envisages the growth of wages for these individuals. We failed to find such a provision in the budget plan’s explanatory note or in the budget’s list of main priorities. We also attempted to clarify the matter in the Budgetary Department of the Financial Service of Tbilisi City Hall; however, they did not answer our questions and suggested that we request the information formally.

FactCheckcontacted the Chairman of the Property Management and Finance-Budget Commission of Tbilisi City Council, Jaba Samushia, and tried to find out whether or not the 2016 Tbilisi City budget plan envisages the growth of wages for bus drivers, cashiers and janitors. According to Mr Samushia, the budget plan does not provide for the growth of wages for these individuals.

FactCheckalso attempted to determine whether or not GEL 6.9 million (the amount of money which is allocated for the growth of the wage funds for certain structures) would be enough to increase the wages of bus drivers and the passenger monitoring service (controller-conductors) employees. We found that there are a total of three auto parks in Georgia and the number of drivers equals 1,285. Their annual wage fund is GEL 17.6 million. In the case of increasing their wage fund by GEL 6.9 million, it would be possible to increase each driver’s wage by a maximum amount of GEL 447 (the average wage of a bus driver is GEL 1,120 as of today). As for the controller-conductors (cashiers as Mr Abesadze called them), their number is 1,005 and their annual wage fund is GEL 6.8 million. In the case of increasing their wage fund by GEL 6.9 million, it would be possible to increase each controller-conductor’s wage by GEL 572 (their current monthly wage varies from GEL 536 to GEL 636). Hence, it is clear that it would definitely be possible to increase the wages of these individuals with the GEL 6.9 million additionally allocated for other wage funds.

Conclusion

According to the 2016 Tbilisi City budget plan, remuneration will be increased by GEL 61 million. The budget’s explanatory note accounts for this owing to treasury reform and wage funds of non-commercial legal entities and legal entities of public law founded by Tbilisi City Hall being incorporated into the general wage fund. However, even without these newly incorporated wage funds, the remuneration funds for Tbilisi City Council, Tbilisi City Hall Administration, City Hall municipal services and municipal boards have indeed increased as compared to 2015 with the overall growth amounting to GEL 6.9 million. It should also be noted that the number of employees in these structures is not being increased next year. According to the budget plan, the growth of the wages for bus drivers, cashiers and janitors is not planned. However, the growth was definitely possible with the GEL 6.9 million mentioned above.

Hence, Irakli Abesadze’s statement isTRUEwhilst Davit Narmania’s statement is aLIE.