Pursuant to Article 22 of the Law of Georgia on the State Budget and paragraph 3, Article 5 of the regulation of the Georgian government, as approved by the Georgian government’s Decree № 54, dated 7 March 2013, an addition to the salaries of Georgian ministers and deputy ministers was established.
According to the press service of the government, the motive behind such a regulation was to eliminate the immoral practice of issuing bonuses as was applied by the former government.
This decision caused serious irritation among a segment of society who failed to grasp the depth of the issue. Citizens posted comments on Facebook saying: “what is the difference for me whether a minister receives a bonus or if this bonus is now called an addition?” and the like.
The sheer effrontery of the current political opposition and certain journalists reached such extremes that they made the information about the salaries and additions public. Even more so, they depicted them in the form of a diagram to ensure a higher degree of reliability of the information.The data on the salaries and the additions (i.e. the former bonuses) of many ministers and deputy ministers became publically available, including those of the Head of the Chancellery of the Government, the foreign and justice ministers and their deputies, as well the minister of culture and his deputies.
It is noteworthy that the only minister who commented on the issue was Minister of Culture Miriane “Guram” Odisharia. According to the minister, he received bonuses for only two months, as after that the Prime Minister of Georgia introduced the additions.
Consequently, Odisharia only received that immoral bonus for two months, after which he has been receiving a virtuous addition to his salary.
The government is concerned that the population has failed to discern the difference between a bonus and an addition. It thus started drafting a new law to replace the additions with top-ups.
An expert in economics, Sandro Tvalchrelidze, believes that the prime minister, presumably, knows what he is doing. In his opinion, a “top-up” is a more socially acceptable term that will enable people to understand the real essence of this supplement: that ministers were not given gifts and had nothing added, but the reimbursement for their busy schedules was simply topped-up.
As sociologist Iago Kachkachishvili reckons: “it would be more appropriate, I think, to call it an ‘intervention,’ because even if citizens do not grasp the depth of that, it will, at least, be well understood by the most important Citizen.”