Municipal funds and property transferred to dioceses - 2013-2017 statistics for Imereti
“Transparency International – Georgia” explored the amount of money allocated from Imereti municipal budget and property transferred to ownership of religious institutions in the period between 2013 and 2017. To collect required data, we’ve retrieved the following figures from the municipalities:
- Funds transferred by the municipality to religious organizations in the period between 1 January 2013 and 20 March 2017;
- The amount of money spent on celebration of religious holidays in the same period;
- Copies of correspondence between municipality Gamgeoba and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and/or National Agency of State Property, concerning transfer of municipal property to the State for its further donation to the Patriarchate.
Based on collected information, we’ve drawn the following conclusions:
- All twelve municipalities of Imereti region have offered financial assistance just to the Georgian orthodox autocephalous church;
- From 1 January 2013 to 20 March 2017, Imereti municipalities have totally disbursed GEL 4 942 603;
- In the study period, the municipalities have handed over real estate (plots of land along with buildings and constructions) just to the Georgian orthodox autocephalous church;
- In total, Tskaltubo, Zestaponi, Baghdati, Kutaisi and Chiatura municipalities have transferred 90 140 m2 plot of land to the Georgian orthodox autocephalous church.
- Kutaisi is the only municipality rejecting application of the local diocese for transfer of land;
- In the study period, only Kharagauli and Baghdati municipalities have allocated funds for celebration of religious holidays;
- Local authorities allocate funds to religious organizations without asking for due justification and cost estimates from the local diocese.
Transparency International – Georgia has summarized the data provided by the municipalities. See the details below, classified by each municipality.
From 1 January 2013 to 20 March 2017, Gamgeoba of Terjola Municipality allocated GEL 1 199 194 to religious organizations.
During 2013-2014, GEL 1700-2000 was disbursed every three months for maintaining the yard of Terjola cathedral. In the same period, the municipality transferred GEL 1 000 000 for construction of St. George’s Temple in village Gogni; in 2017, the municipality covered the electricity cost of the monastery twice – in January and February, with the total cost making up GEL 1246.9.
In 2013, the municipality transferred 100 000 GEL to the Orthodox Fund “Gogni Karugdebeli”. It is noteworthy that in the application of the Fund, need for finances was not duly justified; nor had the Fund provided cost estimates, which would allow to determine application of the funds. The letter only mentions that the Fund needs 100,000 GEL for “stimulating religious activities and financial support”.
There is no justification presented for GEL 5000 that Terjola Municipality transferred to Tkibuli and Terjola dioceses in 2013.
From 1 January 2013 to 20 March 2017, Tejola municipality has allocated no funds for celebration of religious holidays. Neither has it transferred any property to the local diocese.
Study of collected data reveals that from 1 January 2013 to 20 March 2017, Gamgeoba of Tkibuli Municipality has allocated GEL 2200 to religious organizations. As for real estate, it has not transferred property to any confession.
As the municipality states, it has not allocated funds for celebration of religious holidays.
Kharagauli municipality has transferred 372 200 GEL to religious organizations.
Study of the documents provided by Kharagauli Municipality allows to determine which particular churches and monasteries were granted the funds; though, it is not specified on what grounds the municipal funds were requested and for what needs they were expensed. According to the document, the greatest amount – GEL 168 000 was allocated in 2013-2014, for construction of cathedral; GEL 35 650 was transferred to Vashlevi Temple in Boriti.
It is noteworthy that in 2015 and 2017 (as of March 20) Kharagauli municipality has not altogether disbursed funds for above-mentioned purposes.
In the study period, Kharagauli Gamgeoba spent GEL 47 281 from social programs with respect to religious holidays; in particular, assistance was provided to socially vulnerable families, they were supplied with food.
Gamgeoba has not provided us with any information on the property transferred to religious organizations.
Study of the data retrieved by TI Georgia from Sachkhere Municipality Gamgeoba reveals that from 1 January 2013 to 20 March 2017, GEL 194 300 was allocated to Chiatura and Sachkhere dioceses.
Sachkhere Gamgeoba has not allocated funds for celebration of religious holidays. Neither has it transferred its property to religious organizations.
Transparency International – Georgia had no opportunity to check application of allocated funds, as Sachkhere Gamgeoba had provided no correspondence.
From 1 January 2013 to 20 March 2017, Vani Municipality Gamgeoba has transferred 215 000 GEL to Vani and Baghdati Diocese Development Fund. The Fund was established in 2010 by Metropolitan Anton (Markoz Bulikhia) himself.
In the letters sent to Vani Municipality Gamgeoba in 2015, 2016 and 2017, Vani and Baghdati Metropolitan states the same requirements. In particular, in each letter, the Metropolitan asks for GEL 40 000 for ongoing works in churches of Vani district and bishop’s residence as well as celebration of religious holidays. However, the letters are no accompanied by relevant cost estimates.
The letter sent by the Municipality to TI Georgia states that in the study period, no property has been transferred to religious organizations. As for religious celebrations, the letter includes no reference to the cost.
In the study period, Khoni Municipality Gamgeoba has transferred GEL 517 000 to religious organizations.
Despite request of Transparency International – Georgia, Khoni Municipality did not provide any correspondence. Hence, the organization could not check for what purpose the provided funds were spent.
In 2013-2017, the municipality has incurred no costs for religious holidays; neither has it transferred property to any religious organization.
In the period between 2013 and 2017, Tskaltubo Municipality Gamgeoba transferred 399 999 GEL to Gaenati diocese for construction-rehabilitation of temples in the municipality.
Meantime, Gamgeoba has not allocated funds for celebration of religious holidays.
In response to the application submitted by LEPL National Agency of State Property, the municipality donated to the State non-agricultural plot of land, located on April 9 Street, with area of 780 m2, while the latter transferred it to the Orthodox Church of Georgia for construction of a temple.
In 2013 – 2017, Zestaponi Municipality Gamgeoba allocated 317 010 GEL for Margveti and Ubisi dioceses.
As study of provided data reveals, funds allocated by Zestaponi Gamgeoba to Margveti and Ubisi dioceses used to increase each year in the study period. To bring an example, based on the decree N24 issued by Sakrebulo on 23 December 2018, GEL 108 200 was allocated in 2017. The figure 3 times exceeds the amount allocated in 2013 (GEL 34 000) and 2 times – the amount disbursed in 2014 (GEL 56 300).
According to Zestaponi municipality, it has allocated no funds for celebration of religious holidays.
In 2013, Zestaponi municipality transferred 2944 m2 plot of land, located in Zestaponi, on Aghmashenebeli Street, to Margveti and Ubisa diocese through direct auction, with free construction right.
In 2014, the local authorities transferred 627 m2 plot of land, located in Zestaponi on N2 Pirosmani Street, along with ½ of buildings and constructions to Margveti and Ubisa diocese with the right of gratuitous usufruct.
In 2014, Zestaponi municipality transferred 794 m2 plot of non-agricultural land, located in Zestaponi, on Pirosmani Street, to Margveti and Ubisa diocese through direct auction, with free construction right.
In 2014, the local authorities transferred 1702 m2 plot of non-agricultural land, located in Zestaponi, in the corner of Kekelidze and Melkadze streets to Margveti and Ubisa diocese with the right of gratuitous usufruct.
From 1 January 2013 to 20 March 2017, Gamgeoba of Samtredia Municipality transferred GEL 926 000 to Khoni-Samtredia diocese in the form of a subsidy.
Based on the collected information, in the period between 2013 and 20 March 2017 the local authorities have transferred around GEL 1 000 000 for construction of Davit Aghmashenebeli Cathedral.
Samtredia Gamgeoba has not financed any religious celebration in the study period; neither has it transferred property to any religious organization.
Baghdati Gamgeoba has not provided consolidated information on exact allocations to religious institutions; consequently, presented data are based on the copies of the correspondence between the municipality and the diocese, which the local authorities submitted to TI Georgia.
According to the document provided by the local government, Vani and Bagdati Metropolitan applied to Baghdati Municipality in 2017 for GEL 20 000. However, as the municipality has not provided full documentation, we could not determine whether the application has been satisfied.
The municipality spent GEL 4000 to celebrate 20th anniversary of Vani and Baghdati diocese.
In 2015, the Orthodox Church of Georgia was donated 1165 m2 plot of non-agricultural land in village Tsitelkhevi, with the right of construction for 99 years (for building a church).
In 2016, the local authorities transferred 7 hectares of land, located in village Vartsikhe to Vani and Baghdati diocese with the right of usufruct.
In 2016, Baghdati Municipality handed over a car “Grand Cherokee” to Gotieti Monks’ Monastery for free disposal for a term of 2 years.
From 2013 to 20 March 2017 Kutaisi City Hall financed Kutaisi-Gaenati diocese with GEL 366 200.
The City Hall supplied TI Georgia just with correspondence for 2013-2014. As it explained, since the municipality has shifted to electronic treasury from 2015, transfer of funds no longer requires sending of letters. Consequently, data are available on correspondence between 2015 and 20 March 2017. Thus, TI Georgia cannot verify what the grounds were for religious organizations to ask for financing.
As for the period, for which correspondence data are available, TI Georgia has determined that during 2013-2014, Kutaisi City Hall used to systematically cover electricity cost for Kutaisi Sioni (Bagrati) Cathedral based on the application of Kutaisi Metropolitan Kalistrate. As correspondence data are not available for the subsequent period, the organization could not verify application of transferred funds by Kutaisi-Gaenati diocese.
According to Kutaisi City Hall, no funds have been allocated for celebration of religious holidays.
As for property transferred to the Orthodox Church of Georgia from 9 January 2013 to 24 April 2014, Kutaisi City Hall has donated the following plots of land with free construction right:
- 119 Asatiani Street; South area (500.0 m2);
- 205 Tabukashvili Street, in front of a house - 638.0 m2;
- Akhalgazrdoba Square, 7th line, N4; west area - 489.0 m2;
- 2 Lomtatidze Street, North area - 809.0 m2;
- 6 Lezhava Street, North area -1595.0 m2;
- 83 Javakhishvili Street, South area - 426.0 m2;
- #2a Chavchavadze Street, 524.16 m2;
- 19 b Kharebava Street, South area - 1234.0 m2;
- 65a Gamsakhurdia Street, North area - 654.0 m2;
- In 2014 - 2 Akhalgazrdoba Square, 7th line; North area - 3066.0 m2;
- 19 b Kharebava Street, West area - 256.0 m2;
- 19 b Kharebava Street, South area - 275.0 m2;
- 23 Avtokarkhana Street; South-West area - 827.0 m2;
- East area at intersection of Aghmashenebeli Avenue and Tavisupleba Street #1 - 361 m2;
From 2015 till present, Kutaisi City Hall has donated no property to religious organizations.
It should be noted that Kutaisi is the only one from Imereti municipalities who did not satisfy the request of the diocese on transfer of land. The local diocese was asking for 1400 m2 of land in Kutaisi, on Bukhaidze Street for construction of pilgrim center. The City Hall justified its refusal by the fact that the requested site was in the list of premises subject to privatization.
As the documents submitted by Chiatura Gamgeoba show, Sachkere and Chiartura Diocese received GEL 305 000 in the period between 1 January 2013 and 20 March 2017.
In the reporting period, Chiatura Gamgeoba has allocated no funds for celebration of religious holidays.
From 1 January 2013, the following property has been donated to Sachkhere and Chiatura Diocese:
- On 26 February 2013 - by decree N87, 1019.65 m2 plot of land was donated, located at Tolstoy Street;
- On 26 June 2014 – Sachkhere and Chiatura Diocese received 55.1 m2 plot of land in village Morevi.
The chart below depicts the total amount of funds transferred by Imereti municipalities to local dioceses during 2013-3017:
The chart below depicts the total area of land transferred by Imereti municipalities to local dioceses during 2013-2017: