On 9 September, the Parliament’s Education and Science Committee reviewed the 2014 budget six-month report. The report was subject to the Committee’s critique with remarks being made on budget expenditures. The Head of the Parliament’s Education and Science Committee, Ivane Kighuradze, criticised the Ministry of Education on the matter of financing the programme for science development. According to him:  “In 2014, GEL 20 million are allocated for science development. According to the plan, GEL 725 thousand should have been spent out of this in the first quarter but in the report submitted, the expenditures are 0%.” Kighuradze also asked why spending only GEL 725 thousand out of the GEL 20 million was planned and why expenditures amounted to 0%. In response, the Ministry of Education and Science explained that research institutions received financing according to the programme for science development, reflected in another budget line, but Kighuradze replied that research institutions have not received a penny.

FactCheck

took interest in Ivane Kighuradze’s statement and verified its accuracy.

In order to verify the information, we studied the 2014 budget. FactCheck

analysed both the three and six-month plans and their completion rates. In accordance with the 2014 budget, GEL 20 million are allocated for science recovery and development for the year. From this, according to the first quarter’s adjusted plan, GEL 900 thousand are allocated for this activity although the actual completion rate is 0%. As for the six-month plan, according to the 2014 six-month adjusted budget, funds allocated for science recovery and development amount to GEL 725 thousand although the actual completion rate is equal to zero as well.

It should be mentioned that according to the state budget, there are funds provided for science in other budget lines as well. The fact that research centre programmes have been financed by other budget lines was exactly the argument used by the Ministry of Education to reply to Kighuradze’s remark. According to the 2014 plan, subsides allocated for science are as follows:

Graph 1.  2014 Plan (in GEL thousand)
No. Supporting science and scientific research Supporting scientific grants and scientific research Scientific institutions’ programmes National Academy of Sciences’ programmes Supporting scientists in the agricultural field Science recovery and development
1 49,707 23,227 2,140 3,610 730,000 20,000

The state budget’s three-month plan and the completion rate report are as follows:

Graph 2.  Three-month Completion Rate (in GEL thousand)
Plan/Completion Supporting science and scientific research Supporting scientific grants and scientific research Scientific institutions’ programmes National Academy of Sciences’ programmes Supporting scientists in the agricultural field Science recovery and development
Three-month plan 8,300 5,676 529 907 287 900
Completion 2,957 1,334 491 893 239 0
Completion Rate 35.6% 23.5% 93% 31% 83% 0%

The budget’s six-month plan and the completion rate indicators are as follows:

Graph 3.  Six-month Completion Rate (in GEL thousand)
Plan/Completion Supporting science and scientific research Supporting scientific grants and scientific research Scientific institutions’ programmes National Academy of Sciences’ programmes Supporting scientists in the agricultural field Science recovery and development
Six-month plan 15,113 10,851 1,192 1,820 524 726
Completion 13,353 10,044 1,026 1,782 501 0
Completion Rate 88% 93% 86% 98% 95% 0%
 

As can be seen from the graphs, funds are in fact spent on science from different budget lines but not from the particular budget line to which the deputy was referring (science recovery and development). According to the three and six-month completion rate reports, the indices in the expenditures part of this budget line are equal to zero.

To specify which “research institutions” the deputy meant whilst making his statement, FactCheck contacted Ivane Kighuradze directly. He specified during the conversation with FactCheck

that the remuneration for scientists working in research institutions should have been raised according to the designated budget line but this did not take place. He also explained that the remark made by him concerned exactly the abovementioned. Kighuradze noted that the salary of a scientist represents a low monetary amount and so the state is responsible for solving this problem. He also noted that this is something that the Ministry of Education has never done.

The remuneration of scientists is regulated by the Georgian Law

on Scientific Technologies and their Development. According to this law, the salary of a scientist, employed full-time in an institution, should exceed the minimum remuneration of a public servant in the executive government although no exact amount is indicated. The aforementioned law does not prohibit a scientist to work in a temporary research group with an additional reimbursement or to work part-time. During the last two years, there have been no amendments in terms of raising the salaries of scientists.

The minimum remuneration of a public servant employed in the executive government is defined by Presidential Decree #43

from 24 January 2005. According to the decree, the minimum salary of a public servant employed in the executive government is defined as GEL 135. Therefore, the minimum remuneration for scientists, as established by the law, is GEL 136. The maximum amount, however, is not defined and is regulated by a labour contract signed with a certain research institution.

Conclusion

GEL 20 million are allocated for science recovery and development in 2014. According to the three-month completion report, GEL 900 thousand are allocated in this direction in total although expenditures are equal to zero. Based upon the 2014 budget six-month completion report, GEL 725 thousand are allocated for science recovery and development although expenditures are equal to zero as well. The deputy exaggerated when he said that research institutions have not received “a penny” because funds were allocated and used although not from the same budget line to which the deputy had referred.

The minimum salary of a scientist as defined by the current law in Georgia is GEL 136 with no changes in this direction having occurred within the last two years. It should also be noted that whilst making his statement, Ivane Kighuradze referred exactly to the increase of scientists’ salaries.

According to FactCheck’s conclusion, Ivane Kighuradze’s statement:  “In 2014, GEL 20 million are allocated for science development. According to the plan, GEL 725 thousand should have been spent out of this in the first quarter but in the report submitted, the expenditures are 0%... Research institutions haven’t received a penny,” is MOSTLY TRUE.

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