Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo) voted down on February 12 for the second time in six weeks draft of capital city’s 2014 budget, proposed by the Tbilisi City Hall.
The draft budget, rejected with 17-22 vote, has turned into a major source of conflict between Sakrebulo, where the Georgian Dream holds majority, and the UNM-controlled Tbilisi Mayor’s Office, which is executive branch of the municipality.
The draft was revised by the Tbilisi City Hall since late December, when the budget was first voted down by the Sakrebulo.
“The budget should serve the city, not the United National Movement,” said chairman of Sakrebulo, Irakli Shikhiashvili, who was UNM member before switching sides to GD more than a year ago.
Officials from the Tbilisi City Hall say that the revisions were made to accommodate all the remarks submitted by the Sakrebulo. The revised budget envisaged funding of increased expenses by raising targeted revenues from privatization from GEL 35 million up to GEL 100 million.
But the chairman of Sakrebulo said that the draft was deliberately revised in such a way to make it impossible to meet its targets by year’s end. Meeting GEL 100 million target of revenues from privatization is unrealistic, GD members of Sakrebulo said, who also claimed that this “unrealistic” target was set deliberately in order to give UNM reason for pointing finger at GD for revenue shortfall in the budget by the year’s end.
Tbilisi City Hall officials and UNM members of Sakrebulo, however, said it was just a pretext and GD’s goal was simply to vote down the budget no matter of revisions. As an alternative, the Tbilisi City Hall was offering to cut expenses in all budget lines, except of areas of vital importance, by 10%.
If the budget is not approved before March 11, the central government will have the right with the approval from the Parliament to sack Sakrebulo and local government in Tbilisi and impose its direct control over the city, including through appointing mayor for 45 days; after that interim period elections should be held to elect new Sakrebulo.