Margvelashvili Calls on Gov't Not to Abolish Presidential Fund

Outgoing President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, whose term expires on December 16 when the first female president Salome Zurabishvili will be inaugurated, has called on the government not to abolish the Presidential Fund.

The President called on the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) government to reverse their decision regarding the fund, adding it is of huge importance for the institute of the President.

"I would like to urge our government not to deprive the President of the opportunity to communicate with the public. This fund is an opportunity to have personal contact with the community. The government should not cancel the fund but should give more opportunities to the future president to serve the country. I hope they will listen to me,” Margvelashvili stated at the presentation of the report summing up the activities of the Fund.

He also spoke about the importance of the president’s institute in general, noting that despite the reduced powers, the leader of Georgia is the face of the country, elected democratically.

Funding of the new Georgian President’s Administration is set to be reduced by around GEL 4 million and its reserve fund will be totally abolished.

The changes are reflected in the 2019 draft budget of Georgia. According to the document, the budget of the Presidential Administration will be GEL 6 million, down from GEL 9,800,000 in 2018.

The Presidential Reserve Fund in the 2018 budget was GEL 5 million, which will not be allocated from the state budget next year.

In addition, the number of employees of the new President’s Administration will be reduced by about 60%. Currently, 140 people are working in the administration but 2019 draft budget says this number will be reduced to 60.

President-Elect of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili commented on the issue, saying it is a budgetary process and there is nothing problematic about it.

"This is a budgetary process. We are cooperating. There is no problem," she told media.

Zurabishvili’s only opponent in the November 28 runoff, Grigol Vashadze, says that the government’s latest move “degrades the president’s institute.”

“The government is insulting this person [Zurabishvili], they are already taking measures to restrict her rights,” he stressed.

There are two reserve funds in the country: The Government’s Reserve Fund and the President’s Fund.

Deputy Finance Minister Giorgi Kakauridze says the country does not need two state funds, noting that no other country has such a practice.

“We’ll have consultations about this until the 2019 budget is approved, and the final version will be agreed with the President and her administration,” he stated.

In 2014-2018, 405 projects of more than 100 organizations were financed from the President's Reserve Fund.

The President’s Administration says the ultimate goal of the reserve fund is to support the establishment and development of democratic values and state institutes in Georgia.

The fund supports:

1. Initiatives for ethnic minority integration and protection of their rights;

2. Cooperation with higher educational institutions directed towards raising the quality of education in Georgia;

3. Initiatives supporting the comprehensive development of the regions of Georgia, include highland regions;

4. Initiatives directed towards the protection of the rights of children and improvement of quality of life;

5. Initiatives supporting the strengthening of Court government;

6. Initiatives directed towards increasing the self-defense of Georgia;

7. Initiatives for the maintenance and development of cultural diversity;

8. Women’s rights protection activities;

9. Deepening and accelerating of European integration;

10. Initiatives for making the state social sphere healthier;

11. Other initiatives supporting the establishment and development of democratic values and state institutes;

12. Other measures and initiatives on the decision of the President.

By Thea Morrison

Image source: RFE/RL

10 December 2018 16:33