Increased Budgetary Expenses for Government’s “Public Relations”
Following the “Georgian Dream’s” coming into power after the 2012 Parliamentary elections, the number of employees at Public Relations (PR) departments of government institutions and their remuneration has significantly increased. During the reporting period, from 2012 till October 2017, the remuneration for employees of public relations departments reached 55,400,000 GEL, out of which 49,075,000 GEL was spent during “Georgian Dream’s” rule in 2013-2017. The report relies on information obtained by 121 public institutions.
The representatives of the government frequently state that the public is not sufficiently aware of their activities and achievements. Lack of “PR” is cited as one of the reasons for this. Transparency International Georgia conducted the research to find out how much funds were spent during 2012-2017 by the government on public relations departments that exist in administrative bodies. Notably, the main purpose and function of these departments is to raise the public awareness on government activities, as well as handling relations with the media.
TI Georgia requested information from 133 public institutions, in order to identify the number of employees working at PR departments between 2012-2017, as well as the data on the budgetary expenses for their remuneration.
Unfortunately, 12 public institutions, including the Chancellery of the Government of Georgia, Revenue Service and Public Service Hall, did not provide us the requested information. This has an effect on the final findings of the report, as the expenses on Public relations in these institutions is probably high. Notable is the Chancellery of the Government, which actively promotes the activities of the government both at local and international level. The Administration also runs the foreign-language information website agenda.ge. Our suspicion is confirmed by the information retrieved by TI Georgia in September, 2016, according to which 76 persons were employed (permanent/temporary) in the PR department and the number of employees in the PR department exceeded the number of employees in the legal department (34 employees) by 55%. Notably, the PR department is the second largest structural unit in the Chancellery of the Government of Georgia. The report does not include neither the information on the lobbying services procured abroad by the state institutions and the ruling party.
Number of employees at the PR departments and their remuneration
Our research has found that the number of employees (permanent/temporary) in PR departments has increased nationwide after the coming of the Georgian Dream to power. Therefore, the funds allocated for their remuneration have also significantly increased. Despite the fact that the 2017 data was counted up until the month of October, the total spending on employee remuneration still significantly exceeds the spending in 2012.
In 2013-2017, the following ministries are leading in terms of the number of employees in PR departments and their remuneration: Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Healthcare and Social Affairs.
According to October 2017 data, the Ministry of Internal affairs has spent the most on remuneration of employees in PR departments. More specifically, the spending of the MIA amounted to 5,300,000 GEL over five years, while the Defense and Healthcare Ministries have respectively spent over 3,800,000 GEL and up to 3,600,000 GEL.
Notably, an increase was identified in all components of the research during 2016, which can be explained by the fact that there was the parliamentary elections in October 2016 which were won by the Georgian Dream. In 2016, the total number of employees in PR departments was the largest (690 employees), while 12,000,000 GEL was spent on their remuneration.
The findings of the report show that the number of employees at Public Relations departments in public institutions and their remuneration has significantly increased since the coming into power of Georgian Dream in 2012. The current government spends tens of millions of Laris on remuneration of employees of PR departments, the main function of which is to raise public awareness about the activities of the government and its achievements. Therefore, if the government is unable to making its activities known to the public, one of the reasons can be the incompetence, which can indicate of misuse of the budgetary funds.