International Budget Partnership Slams PM Garibashvili for “Misconstruing” their Survey to Justify Foreign Agents Law

The organization “International Budget Partnership” issued a statement in which it expresses disappointment that Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashili misconstrued the country’s ranking in the Open Budget Survey to justify the Foreign Agents’ Law, which has since been dropped by the Parliament as a result of mass protest rallies last week.

According to IBP, the “Open Budget Survey” measures transparency, oversight, and formal public participation in national government budget processes. Georgia’s score means that the government released timely and comprehensive information in their key budget documents.”

However, the statement reads: “this does not mean that Georgia is fully transparent, accountable, and inclusive with its public outside the budget process. Indeed, independent assessments have found worrying indications of increasing high-level corruption.”

The statement further notes that the government’s disproportionate use of police force against the protesters underscores that there is increasingly less space in Georgia for peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. 

IBP stresses: “We do not condone the Georgian government’s use of the Open Budget Survey ranking to justify a draconian law that curtails independent civil society under the pretext of transparency.” The statement underlines that the law would have put unnecessary administrative burden on media outlets and nonprofits and would have allowed for undefined monitoring by the Ministry of Justice with heavy fines for non-compliance. 

The statement was prompted by the remarks made by the PM Garibashvili on Imedi TV on March 12 in which he claimed that “…these NGOs are calling us out and urging us on a daily basis to be more transparent, which is good in itself, and our government is considered one of the most transparent governments in the world and among the leading democracies. Suffice it to say that we are number one in the world in terms of budget transparency.”

He then juxtaposed the “transparency” of the government to the lack of thereof in civil sector saying: “Their goals, their activities are not transparent, we have very little information, and we requested minimal transparency and minimal accountability to our society,” the Prime Minister stated.

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