TBILISI, DFWatch–A day after assuming office, Georgia’s new prime minister gave the Orthodox Church half a million laris from the government’s emergency reserve fund, it emerged on Friday.
The Patriarchate of Georgia received 450,000 laris (more than USD 185,000) from the government’s reserve fund on December 30.
The decree was signed by Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirkashvili, who was approved by parliament on December 29.
The Orthodox Church, which is the largest religious confession in Georgia, received 25 million laris from the state budget in 2015, even though the government has no obligation to finance the Church.
The extra money is to be spent on developing educational centers subordinate to the Patriarchate. The decree lists six educational facilities and how much should be spent on each of them.
The government and the president each control so-called reserve funds originally only meant to be used for handling crises like natural disasters. A legislative amendment in 2005 allowed the funds to be used for ‘undefined government expenses.’ The National Movement was criticized for spending reserve fund money on activities seen as part of their election campaign, like electricity vouchers, a rock concert and a student trainee program. Under the new government, there is more openness about what the funds are spent on, and the president’s reserve fund has been reduced.