Zugdidi Municipality's 2014 budget proposal – which recommendations were taken on by local authorities
Zugdidi Municipality presented its 2014 draft budget to the public on November 18, 2013. The draft budget is quite well spelled out. Importantly it has taken into account the majority of Transparency International Georgia’s recommendations, concerning the public’s social spending priorities.
Establishment of a dinner hall and free dinner service for vulnerable population: a recommendation made by TI Georgia on June 16. The explanatory note to the draft budget stipulates: “free dinner service for vulnerable population will include 50 more beneficiaries and will cover a total of 250 citizens in two catering facilities. The new free dining-hall will most likely be set up at Enguri Paper Factory's district.The recommendation letter stated that, given the large number of beneficiaries, it would be necessary to set up a free dining-hall for vulnerable persons in one of the suburbs of the town. This made official an oral statement that had previously been made by the Administration's Department for Labor, Public Health, Social Security, and Veterans, Refugees and Internally Displaced People.
Public transport benefits for vulnerable people and students: the municipality has partially enacted our recommendations on this, submitted to the Zugdidi City Council on June 26. The budget explanatory note states that benefits will apply only to students: “the program envisaging public transport benefits for students was to be launched at the start of the new academic year in 2013. Although the program has not been set in motion yet, certain work has been carried out and the program is planned to be re-launched late this year. The 2014 project envisages allocation of funds for this purpose."
Public transport for residents in Kurcha village: located at the administrative border line was a key issue highlighted in TI Georgia’s letter of February 2013. The 2014 draft budget says: “with the purpose of rendering care and assistance to the population on the frontier area, co-funding is provided for covering public transportation fares ( Kurcha), and co-funding is provided for covering public transport fares for local students." Local residents had collected signatures for a petition which they sent with a letter prepared by TI Georgia to the Zugdidi Municipality (Gamgeoba).
Landfills, medical waste and cleaning fees charged to local residents: this summer, TI Georgia published a survey concerning the landfill on the municipality territory, cleaning fee charged from local residents, and medical waste. The explanatory note states that from next year, the municipality plans to set up an effective mechanism to secure the payment of cleaning fees and thereby improve the situation in this respect.
Building a shelter for homeless families: the Municipality budget for 2014 will not continue the current practice of providing a GEL 100 single payment to vulnerable families. Instead, the local self-government plans to direct these monies towards building a shelter for homeless families. This type of social housing will, of course, not shelter all homeless people, but we believe that such an approach will prove to be much more effective than the current payments system.
It is a very important and positive sign that Zugdidi Municipal Administration is taking civil society and the public’s comments into account when drafting the budget and that it is open to receiving recommendations. This, in turn, significantly improves the level of local democracy and provides a basis for establishing a genuine local government.