The Parliament approved on December 21 amendments to the 2016 state budget with 85 votes to 6, which along with other issues, envisage increase in the funding of the Defense Ministry by GEL 80.4 million.
The Defense Ministry’s funding will increase from GEL 670 million to GEL 750.4 million largely due to direct transfer of a GEL 82.4 million loan. Deputy Finance Minister Giorgi Kakauridze told lawmakers when presenting the budget that it is related to the loan agreement ratified last December. MP Irakli Sesiashvili, who chairs the parliamentary committee for defense and security, told Civil.ge that the loan agreement signed with French bank Société Générale to finance air defense acquisition from France was meant. The Georgian Parliament ratified the agreement in late 2015.
Economic growth forecast was cut from 3% to 2.7%, according to the same amendments – Georgia’s economy expanded by 2.9% in 2015, the weakest growth since 2009. Economy grew 2.5% in the first ten months of this year, according to the preliminary data released by Geostat.
According to the approved amendments, revenues in the 2016 state budget were reduced from GEL 8.555 billion to GEL 8.546 billion and expenditures increased from GEL 8.543 billion to GEL 8.671 billion.
The revised budget leaves GEL 7.98 billion in tax revenues unchanged, but reduces forecasted revenues from foreign grants by GEL 8.2 million to GEL 246.8 million.
Funding of separate agencies will be reduced and GEL 40 million mobilized from this reduction will be added to funding of universal healthcare program, according to the amendments. Thus, funding of the Ministry of Healthcare will increase from GEL 3.162 billion to GEL 3.202 billion in 2016.
The revised budget also increases funding of the Ministry of Energy by GEL 69.5 million to GEL 204.5 million and the Economy Ministry – by GEL 300 thousand to GEL 95.4 million.
Funding of the following ministries will be cut:
- Ministry of Education and Science – GEL 952 million (cut by GEL 25.8 million);
- Ministry of Agriculture – GEL 311.1 million (cut by GEL 10.2 million);
- Prison system ministry - GEL 144.8 million (cut by GEL 9 million);
- Finance Ministry – GEL 86.5 million (cut by 3.5 million).
Funding of the Parliament and government’s administration will also be reduced by GEL 2 million each to GEL 50 million and GEL 18 million, respectively.
MPs of the opposition National Movement party said that they would not support the budgetary amendments.