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Debates among Tbilisi’s mayoral candidates were aired on TV3 on 29 May 2014. Dimitri Lortkipanidze, Tbilisi’s mayoral candidate from “the Nino Burjanadze United Opposition”, stated that until 14 March the wage fund increased by 64 percent in the approved budget of Tbilisi, from 29 million to 45 million. The City Council purchased 22 new cars.

FactCheck

 took interest in the statement and verified its accuracy.

We contacted Dimitri Lortkipanidze in order to verify his statement. He told FactCheck

that in the first version of the Tbilisi budget for 2014, the compensation of employees was GEL 29 million in total which was unprecedentedly later increased. Since the 1 October 2012 elections, Tbilisi City Council has purchased 28 cars.

The Tbilisi budget for 2014 was approved after months of debate. Tbilisi City Council twice rejected the Tbilisi draft budget for 2014, on 29 December 2013 and 12 February 2014.Irakli Shikhiashvili, Chairman of the City Council commented on the rejection of the budget and stated that the budget should serve the capital city and not the United National Movement. The rejection of the budget by the City Council was assessed as politically motivated by Transparency International Georgia, which stated that this process has been delayed mainly for political reasons. In the end, the draft budget was approved a few months later on 7 March 2014.

FactCheck

requested the initial version of the city budget from Tbilisi City Council.  According to the information provided in the sixth chapter of the initial draft budget, the number of employees in Tbilisi’s representative and executive bodies was determined to be 2, 203 people and GEL 44 534, 4000 was allocated for their salaries.

According to the information provided in the Tbilisi budget 2014 approved on 7 March, the number of people employed in Tbilisi’s representative and executive bodies is 2,199. Remuneration plan for the employees was determined as GEL 44 520, 3000.

According to the statement by Dimitri Lortkipanidze, amendments were made to the Tbilisi budget for 2014 before 14 March and as a result the wage fund was increased by 64 %, from GEL 29 million to GEL 45 million. It is noteworthy that after the approval of the final version, amendments were again made to the budget on 14 April 14. The number of employees in Tbilisi’s representative and executive bodies has not changed in the new version of the budget while the remuneration plan for these employees was determined as GEL 47,695, 3000. Changes made in the remuneration plan are obvious although salaries increased by approximately 7,13 percent and not the percentage indicated by Lortkipanidze.

Dimitri Lortkipanidze also mentioned the purchase of 22 cars by Tbilisi City Council in the second part of his statement. In his discussion with FactCheck, he indicated this number to be 28 cars . Tbilisi City Council has not announced a tender for the purchase of new cars in 2014 which is also verified by the information published on the website of the State Procurement Agency. As for the purchase of cars in 2012-2013, according to the data obtained by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), Tbilisi City Council purchased 28 cars in 2012-2013 and with a total cost of GEL 915, 725. However, it is noteworthy that IDFI began its reporting period from 1 January, 2012 instead of 1 October as Dimitri Lortkipanidze mentioned with FactCheck.

Conclusion

Dimitri Lortkipanidze is not accurate when he talks about the Tbilisi budget for 2014. The salaries of employees in the first version of the budget were GEL 44, 520, 300 (and not GEL 29 million as the mayoral candidate was indicating). After the changes, salaries increased by 7.13 % and amounted to GEL 47, 695, 300. The result of the budget changes (GEL 47, 695, 300) is more than GEL 45 million as indicated by the candidate in the statement. However, the interpretation of Dimitri Lortkipanidze’s stated fact is not correct since the wage fund was not determined as GEL 29 million in the initial version of the budget and therefore it has not been increased by 64 % as a result of changes.

As for the second part of his statement, Tbilisi City Council did purchase 28 cars in the period 2012-2013.

Accordingly, we conclude that Dimitri Lortkipanidze’s statement: "Before 14 March 2014, unprecedented things were happening in terms of Tbilisi’s approved budget. The wage fund increased by 64 percent, from 29 million to 45 million. The City Council purchased 22 new cars” is HALF TRUE.

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