Statement on the funding of state agricultural projects - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Statement on the funding of state agricultural projects

16 May, 2013

It is commonly known that the N(N)LE Rural and Agricultural Development Fund was established on 22 January 2013 to attract investments promoting the development of Georgian agriculture. The Fund currently runs two projects: Project Promoting the Spring Works of Land-Poor Farmers, which this year has handed out vouchers of differing values to those owning agricultural land; and the Preferential Agro-Credit Project, which is aimed at issuing low-interest agro-credits.

The Ministry of Agriculture has informed us that these projects are funded by the N(N)LE international charitable Cartu Foundation and the N(N)LE  International Charity Fund for Rural and Agricultural Development. Although there is no mention of Bidzina Ivanishvili in the registration documents of the Cartu Foundation, it is generally believed that this organization is in fact linked with the Prime Minister. Furthermore, in the past few months both the media and high officials have called attention to the high representation of the Prime Minister's personal capital in the Fund (currently valued at GEL 1 billion). Since the Georgian legislation makes no clear distinction between when politicians donate for charity, and when they donate for election purposes i.e vote-buying, such action could be perceived as an illegal use of financial resources since the voters’ will is being impacted.

The general public must be informed about these agricultural projects properly, and explained how this type of assistance is in fact part of the state program rather than a personal act of charity. In February, however, the charitable foundation Cartu issued compensations of up to 100 million GEL to the calamity-struck population. This aid was announced as deriving from personal charity. Clear legislative regulation is required for such events so that there is no doubt over whether such donations are indeed legal. Accordingly, until the legislation is amended, it would be preferable if politicians, especially high officials,  refrain from funding such projects through their personal wealth.


Transparency International Georgia

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy

Georgian Young Lawyers' Association