Rising PR and Advertising Expenses of the Georgian Government
* 2017 includes data as of October 2017
** Compared to our previous report, remuneration of PR staff also includes expenses of the Government Administration, which we obtained through a court appeal.
- Georgian public institutions spent more than GEL 98 million 480 thousand on PR and advertising between 2013 and 2017 (October) after the Georgian Dream government came to power.
- Adding the remuneration of press service employees across public institutions raises this number to more than GEL 159 million 730 thousand.
- The largest share of total PR and advertising expenses were incurred by Legal Entities of Public Law - LEPL (National Tourism Administration, National Wine Agency, and Enterprise Georgia), with most expenses being incurred in 2016 – a parliamentary election year.
- In 2013-2017, the Government Administration spent more than GEL 12 million on remuneration of its PR Department staff, which is about one fifth of the total amount spent on remuneration of the PR staff of 122 public institutions throughout Georgia (GEL 61,250,000).
In March 2018, Transparency International Georgia published a report showing a sharp increase in the number of PR staff and associated remuneration expenses in public institutions after the Georgian Dream came to power.
This time we focused on PR and advertising expenses over the same period. For this purpose, Transparency International Georgia requested public information from 134 public institutions on PR services and the production, placement and distribution of advertising from 2012 to October 2017. Unfortunately, 10 public institutions did not provide the requested information, including the Government Administration, and the Ministries of Defense, Energy, Economy, Justice and Internal Affairs. While TI Georgia was able to obtain the required information about advertising expenses of several of these ministries as part of another research, PR expenses remain unknown, meaning that the actual numbers are likely higher than the total expenses presented in this report.
From 2012 to October 2017, public institutions spent more than GEL 110 million 650 thousand on PR and advertising, of which more than GEL 98 million was spent after the Georgian Dream came to power in 2013-2017.
Official data indicates that PR and advertising expenses of public institutions are on sharply rising across the country. For example, the amount spent even during the first 10 months of 2017 was twice as much as what was spent in 2012.
The election year of 2016 saw the highest spending – more than GEL 28 million – on PR, advertising and remuneration of Press Service employees. Such an increase in PR expenditure was likely due to the government mobilizing budget funds in preparation for the parliamentary elections.
Highest Spending Public Institutions
In 2013-2017, public institutions with the highest PR spending were: the “National Tourism Administration”, “National Wine Agency”, and “Enterprise Georgia”. The sharp increase in total PR and advertising expenditures of the “Georgian Dream” government was largely due to increased expenses of the above three institutions. For example, “Enterprise Georgia”, which was created in 2014, still ended up among the highly spending institutions.
* In 2012-2013 Enterprise Georgia did not exist at all.
After the Government Administration failed to provide public information for our previous report, TI Georgia went to court and managed to obtain the requested information nonetheless. The obtained information suggests an increase in the number of PR staff and remuneration of the Government Administration. More specifically, in 2013-2017 (first 10 months), the Government Administration spent more than GEL 12 million on remuneration of its PR Department staff, which is about one fifth of the total amount spent on remuneration of the PR staff of 122 public institutions throughout Georgia (GEL 61,250,000).
* The data covers the period from 2013 to October 2017.
* The Government Press Service had 8 employees in 2010 and 7 in 2011.
2016 saw a 90% increase in PR staff remuneration compared to 2012.
According to requested information, in 2010-2017, the Government Administration had purchased advertising services from publications, such as “Asaval Dasavali” and “Alia”, which are known for openly using hate speech, xenophobic and homophobic statements, and are actively involved in the anti-West campaign.
The Government Administration had also purchased advertising services from For.ge, an information-analytical portal founded by Giorgi (Gia) Iakobashvili, a Georgian Dream selected Board Member of the Georgian Public Broadcaster. Gia Iakobashvili has demonstrated a negative attitude towards the civil sector.
The Government Administration refused to disclose public information about when the above purchases were made and what value contracts were signed with “Asaval Dasavali”, “Alia” and For.ge.