Georgia PM: public “needs to see how foreign grants are spent”

The PM added the country’s citizens “need to know what funds are being spent on” and whether “certain funds” were being spent “directly on election campaigns”. Photo: Government Administration, 30 Apr 2024 - 13:00, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze on Monday said “everything should be transparent” and added the public “needs to see how foreign grants are spent”, in comments on the controversial bill on transparency of foreign influence.

In an interview with Imedi TV, Kobakhidze claimed it was “unknown which is the foreign funds amounting to tens of millions of dollars a year are being used for a revolution, attacks on churches, political intervention with religious content and drug propaganda”.

He said the volume of foreign grants in agriculture were approximately 11 times less than the funding allocated by the Government for the purpose.

To compare, when we are talking about the same type of aid, what does the state do for agriculture, how much money is allocated annually, which is not visible anywhere, [...] there are no signs posted about a particular enterprise or farm. In total, ₾330 million ($122 mln) is spent from the state annually on assistance and business promotion in agriculture, which is included in the budget”, he said.

The PM alleged “specific farmers” who received foreign grants were “distinguished by particularly increased sympathies towards specific domestic opposition political forces”, and noted “political bias” was “evident” in the distribution of these grants.

When it comes to these tens of millions of dollars as a whole, which are in doubt, not all of them are used for the well-being of the country - the main thing is transparency”, he noted.

We do not prove anything, we do not say that something is bad or something is good, everything should be transparent and in the end the society should see what, for what and how this money is spent. The transparency law does not provide for anything more, society will draw conclusions about the rest,” the PM added.

Kobakhidze claimed transparency “creates discomfort for specific donors”, which he said “should adapt to transparency and provide reports for Georgian society and disclose information regarding funding”, calling the approach the “minimum standard of European democracy, which is gradually being questioned”.

He added the “standard of transparency” had been in place for the EU since after the Second World War, and noted the country should follow this “classic European standard”.

The head of the Government said the proposed law would have “made it difficult for donors to finance activities related to organisation of revolutions and constant attacks on the Georgian Orthodox Church”.

This is a sponsored chain, which is launched against the Georgian state, Georgian identity, specifically the Georgian Church”, he claimed.

The official alleged David Kezerashvili, the wanted former Defence Minister in the United National Movement Government, had “disclosed his intentions” in a meeting in Cyprus to “mobilise $45 million” for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia, with $15 million “designated for non-governmental organisations”.

The PM added the country’s citizens “need to know what funds are being spent on” and whether “certain funds” were being spent “directly on election campaigns”.