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During his speech about the rules of the distribution of bonuses and wage surpluses, the Head of the State Audit Service, Lasha Tordia, stated: "We see that the directives are issued by the heads of various structures one year in advance which allocate bonuses and wage surpluses for public servants, including high-ranking officials. According to our assessment, this contradicts the existing rules. It cannot be predetermined that a person will work a night shift or do some extra work."

According to the Labour Code of Georgia, the remuneration of an employee (salary) consists of wages, bonuses and legally determined surpluses. According to the 2005 Directive No. 43 of the President of Georgia, the monthly wages of ministers were set at GEL 2,540. As for monthly surpluses, only the Prime Minister of Georgia has the authority to allocate them (7 March 2013 Directive No. 54 of the Government of Georgia).

The State Audit Service prepared a report about the Bill on the 2016 State Budget of Georgia. The report points out that, with their directives, authorised officials in certain budgetary structures allocate surpluses for certain employees for a whole year and one year in advance. These surpluses, given that they are distributed every month, can be treated as wages rather than surpluses. According to the assessment of the State Audit Service, such a practice cannot be considered as justified.

In this report, the State Audit Service brings the examples of the directives issued by the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, Ministry of Energy of Georgia and the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs of Georgia. These directives allocated surpluses for certain employees for a whole year and one year in advance. It should also be pointed out that according to the 21 January 2014 Directive of the former Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, monthly wage surpluses in the amount of GEL 2,710 were allocated for state ministers.

In this context, summarising the review of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission in Georgia is also notable as it concludes that in terms of a low economic growth expected in 2015, in order to keep the budget deficit in predetermined limits, it would be advisable to decrease wage bonuses and administrative spending. The 15 July 2014 Directive No. 449 of the Government of Georgia established the rules for determining the amounts and distribution of bonuses in public structures which limited the amount of bonuses distributed to public servants. However, the report of the State Audit Service points out that the distribution of wage surpluses increased drastically after the enactment of these rules. The State Audit Service concluded that the budgetary organisations simply replaced the bonuses with wage surpluses. The report also says that in certain cases wage surpluses are distributed without adequate argumentation or by indicating the article of a respective law.

According to the Head of the State Audit Service, the allocation of wage surpluses in advance contradicts the requirements of a specific law. The 25 August 2010 Directive of the Minister of Finance of Georgia determines the meaning of wage surpluses. This category includes additional payments for work executed during non-working hours, night shifts, celebrations and vacations as well as any other kinds of wage surpluses as determined by the law. This is the norm upon which the logical conclusion of the Head of the State Audit Service is based, saying that it is impossible to predetermine whether or not a person will work a night shift or do any other kind of additional work.

The amended version of the Law on Public Service will be enacted in 2017. Article 58 of this law determines that a public servant receives wage surpluses according to his rank or due to additional functions taken as extra work upon the order of a superior official. This includes work during night hours, vacations and working under harsh conditions. Article 61 of the same law also determines that the length of work including extra work hours must not exceed 48 hours in a week. Consequently, the law also determines the limit of additional working hours to a maximum of 24 hours per month. Article 61 also says that extra work done by a civil servant will be compensated according to his choice by giving him wage surpluses or extra time off equivalent to the time spent for the additional work. As we can see, allocating wage surpluses in advance is not logical according to this norm as well as the fact that the public servant must have the possibility to request extra vacation time instead of wage surpluses.

Conclusion

According to the assessment of the State Audit Service of Georgia, allocating monthly wage surpluses in advance turns them into wages, rather than surpluses. Hence, such a practice has been assessed negatively. According to the conclusion of the State Audit Service, it is advisable to formulate an effective mechanism regulating the distribution of bonuses and wage surpluses to the employees of public structures.

FactCheck

found that a number of public structures allocate wage surpluses to employees and high ranking officials one year in advance. Given the legal meaning of a wage surplus, it is not logical to allocate them in advance. A wage surplus must only be awarded in the case of certain actions (working during non-working hours, night shifts, celebrations and vacations).

Hence, FactCheck concludes that Lasha Tordia’s statement is TRUE.