On 3 October 2016, the Ministry of Finance of Georgia submitted a draft state budget before the Parliament of Georgia. After it became clear that not even a single initiative from the Georgian Dream campaign promises is reflected in the budget, some questions were raised.
The Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development and First Deputy Prime Minister, Dimitri Kumsishvili, replied to a question from journalists in regard to the initial draft of the 2017 state budget and said that new initiatives could not have been inserted into the draft because it was prohibited by election legislation. Mr Kumsishvili stated: "We discussed the initial version at the session of the Government of Georgia although the new initiatives were not reflected in the draft because of election legislation. Only after the elections are finished we will manage to make the respective amendments. It is certain that priorities will be the same as promised by us. We are loyal to these priorities and they will definitely be implemented."FactCheck
took interest in the accuracy of the statement.Section 3 of Article 49 of the Election Code of Georgia says: "From the 60th
day before and including election day, it is prohibited to implement such projects/programmes that have not been previously included in the State Budget of Georgia, the republic budget of any Autonomous Republic of Georgia or the budget of any local self-government unit except when projects/programmes are funded within the allocations provided for by the respective programme code of the respective budget and/or by the funds from such allocations as well as by the funds allocated by donors at least 60 days before election day."
Amending the budget in the pre-election period is indeed prohibited by election legislation. This clause, however, covers the already existing budget and does not concern the budget of a forthcoming year. This is because the budget of the next year does not envisage the implementation of any kinds of projects or programmes in the pre-election period. These projects or programmes will only go into force in the next year if adopted by the Parliament of Georgia.FactCheck
interviewed lawyers at the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, Transparency International and the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy. They also confirmed that election legislation does not impose any prohibition whatsoever in regard to the budget planning for a forthcoming year.
We offer you an overview of other legal acts related to the budget as well.
The Constitution of Georgia is the supreme law of the nation and as such it concerns the issue of the state budget.
Article 92 of the Constitution of Georgia decrees that the procedure for the drafting and adoption of the state budget is to be determined by law. Further, Article 93 clarifies that only the Government of Georgia is authorised to submit the draft budget to the Parliament of Georgia and it must submit the draft budget for the forthcoming year to the Parliament of Georgia not later than three months (that is, September) before the end of the budget year. The draft budget is to be prepared by the Government of Georgia which is authorised to define the budgetary priorities and insert initiatives, among others, before it is presented to the Parliament of Georgia.
In contrast to the general rules given in the Constitution of Georgia, the Budgetary Code of Georgia regulates narrower and more specific issues such as the principles of the formation of Georgia’s budgetary system, the preparation of the draft budget and the overview, adoption, execution, accountability and control of the budget.
Article 3 of the Budgetary Code of Georgia defines the legal basis for the budgetary system of Georgia. This means that the aforementioned article defines the list of those legal acts (except for the Budgetary Code of Georgia) on the basis of which the authorities of the components of the budgetary system are implemented. In turn, Georgia’s budgetary system represents a unity of budgetary relations regulated by normative acts required for the mobilisation and usage of financial resources for the purposes of the fulfilment of the functions of the central agencies, the Autonomous Republics of Georgia and local self-government bodies.
Part 1 of Article 7 of the Budgetary Code of Georgia defines that the Government of Georgia is responsible for drafting the state budget whilst the Parliament of Georgia is responsible for reviewing the state budget.
According to Article 5 of the same code, the budgetary process is the activity of the participants of the budgetary system of Georgia which includes the preparation of the draft budget and its submission, consideration, approval, amendment, fulfilment, accounting and control.
Article 33 defines that the Ministry of Finance of Georgia is responsible for coordinating the process of drafting and submitting the state budget of Georgia.
According to Part 1 of Article 37 of the Budgetary Code of Georgia, the Ministry of Finance of Georgia is to review budgetary requests and submit the main parameters of the draft budget for consideration to the Government of Georgia no later than 15 September.
According to the Constitution of Georgia and the Budgetary Code of Georgia, the Government of Georgia is both responsible and authorised to submit the draft budget for the next year before the Parliament of Georgia. Drafting, amending and inserting any kind of components, including old or new initiatives, is also a part of the Government of Georgia’s authority.Section 3 of Article 49 of the Election Code of Georgia does indeed prohibit implementing such projects/programmes that have not been previously included in the State Budget of Georgia from the 60th
day before and including election day. This specific article, however, is about the existing budget and does not cover the budget of a forthcoming year.FactCheck concludes that Dimitri Kumsishvili’s statement that election promises and new initiatives voiced by the Georgian Dream could not have been reflected in the budget of a next year (2017) because it had been prohibited by election legislation is a LIE.