TBILISI, DFWatch–The Tbilisi mayor says the city must tighten its belt, because the National Movement, which ruled the city for a decade, left ‘the worst budget ever’.
Newly elected Mayor Davit Narmania from the Georgian Dream Coalition said on Tuesday that the former Tbilisi government virtually squandered the budget funds, especially those allocated to the healthcare and social services, while money for housing co-ops was almost totally emptied.
“We are urged to tighten the belts,” Narmania said, adding that the new Tbilisi government strives to save money, also on administrative spending, i.e. salaries and bonuses for City Hall staff, in order to maintain ‘mandatory’ programs, i.e. those associated with healthcare, social services and housing co-ops. The latter provides maintenance of public infrastructure, roofs and elevators in blocks of flats.
Narmania said that the previous government didn’t allocate money for specific necessary projects, i.e. preparations for the European Youth Olympic Festival, planned held in Tbilisi in summer 2015.
Georgian Dream took over Tbilisi City Hall in summer 2014, after a sounding victory in the local elections in Tbilisi and elsewhere in Georgia.
Before the local elections, when Georgian Dream was at the helm of the state and the UNM was ruling some local municipalities, including Tbilisi, this situation often triggered bitter conflicts between the state and local authorities.
Gigi Ugulava, a former Tbilisi mayor and staunch ally of former president Mikheil Saakashvili, was arrested in July on charges of using public money to fund the UNM election campaign, and is still in jail despite vehemently denying the charges.
Tbilisi’s city budget amounts to GEL 785 million (USD 450 million). Housing co-ops were funded with GEL 17 million; healthcare and social services with GEL 187 million.