The parliamentary committees have finalized discussions on the initial draft of the 2018 state budget with final hearing held at the finance and budget committee on October 16.
The draft state budget was presented by Deputy Finance Minister Giorgi Kakauridze, who said that the new budget, envisaging increased funding for infrastructure projects, was elaborated based on the economic growth prospects.
The initial draft of the 2018 state budget sets overall revenues at GEL 10.12 billion (GEL 9.48 billion in 2017) and expenditures at GEL 9.5 billion (GEL 9.12 billion in 2017).
The government expects GEL 9.47 billion in tax revenues next year, up by GEL 650 million from this year’s figure. Revenues from grants will decrease by GEL 19 million and amount to GEL 265 million; “other revenues” will remain unchanged at GEL 385 million.
The government projects 4.5% economic growth next year. This year government’s forecast for economic growth stands at 4%; economy grew 4.7% in the second quarter of 2017.
Budgetary parameters in the initial draft are tentative and are expected to be revised in the process of discussions by the Parliament.
Breakdown of funding per ministry in the initial draft is as follows:
- Ministry of Healthcare and Social Protection - GEL 3.52 billion (up by GEL 111.2 million compared to the 2017 budget). 2.46 billion from the total amount will be spent on social protection and pensions provision; GEL 982.8 million on healthcare programs; GEL 25 million on medical facilities update.
- Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure - GEL 1.83 billion (GEL 1.25 billion in 2017); 70% of the funding will be spent on road infrastructure projects;
- Ministry of Education and Science - GEL 1.178 billion (up by GEL 62.6 million compared to 2017). Almost 60% of the funding will be spent on general education projects;
- Ministry of Agriculture - GEL 266 million (up by GEL 8 million compared to 2017); GEL 45 million from the total amount will be spent on agriculture loans;
- Ministry of Economy - GEL 253.8 million (down by GEL 116 million compared to 2017);
- Ministry of Defense - GEL 702 million (down from GEL 748 million in 2017);
- Ministry of Internal Affairs - GEL 605 million (up from GEL 585 million in 2017). The surplus amount will be spent on purchasing firefighting and rescue equipment;
- Ministry of Penitentiary - GEL 145 million (up by GEL 5.9 million compared to 2017);
- Ministry of Energy - GEL 131 million (down by GEL 1.3 million compared to 2017); GEL 30 million will be spent on gas connection works;
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs - GEL 114 million (up by GEL 4 million compared to 2017);
- Ministry of Culture - GEL 116.5 million (up by GEL 17 million compared to 2017);
- Ministry of Justice - GEL 62 million (the funding will remain almost unchanged);
- Ministry of Finance - GEL 82.3 million;
- Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons - GEL 96 million (up by GEL 11 million compared to 2017);
- Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs - GEL 165.7 million (up by GEL 28.8 million compared to 2017);
- Ministry of Environment Protection - GEL 43 million (up by GEL 7 million compared to 2017);
- Office of the State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration - GEL 2.95 million;
- Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civil Equality - GEL 1.25 million;
- State Security Service - GEL 123 million (up by GEL 5 million compared to 2017).
According to the initial draft, funding for the Parliament and the Government administrations is set at GEL 52 million and 16.5 million, respectively - same as this year; funding for the President’s administration will also remain unchanged at GEL 9.8 million and the President’s reserve fund will receive GEL 5 million, same as this year. Funding for the State Audit Service will also remain unchanged at GEL 14.5 million. The Government’s reserve fund will increase by GEL 10 million and amount to GEL 50 million.
Funding for the Central Election Commission will increase by GEL 7 million, narrowly exceeding GEL 67 million. More than GEL 40 million from the amount will be spent on conducting the presidential elections.
Funding for the judiciary will increase insignificantly: common courts will receive GEL 71.4 million (up by GEL 2.4 million compared to 2017); Supreme Court – GEL 8 million (up by GEL 300 000); Constitutional Court – GEL 4.15 million (up by GEL 40 000).
Funding for the Georgian Public Defender’s Office will also increase to GEL 5.5 million (up by GEL 700 000).
Funding for the Georgian Public Broadcaster will increase by almost GEL 5.7 million and reach GEL 52.1 million in 2018.
Funding for the Georgian Orthodox Church will remain unchanged at GEL 25 million.
Funding for regional administrations will also remain unchanged next year (GEL 6.12 million); transfers to cities and municipalities will increase by almost GEL 45 million and amount to GEL 720 million.
The Government submitted the initial draft of the 2018 state budget to the Parliament on September 29. The Parliament launched committee discussions on October 9. The parliamentary factions, the parliamentary majority and minority groups discussed the initial draft on October 12.
Opposition lawmakers slammed the draft budget for keeping the amounts of social allowances and pension provisions unchanged.
According to the budgetary code of Georgia, the Parliament has to present its remarks to the Government before October 23. The Government will then submit the revised draft to the legislature (no later than November 5).