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Investigation | Alarming Employment Practices in Quasi-Government Agencies

In a revealing investigative piece by Radio Liberty, the concerning employment practices within Georgian Legal Entities of Public Law (LEPLs) and Non-Entrepreneurial (Non-Commercial) Legal Entities (N(N)LEs) come under scrutiny, unearthing a complex web of dual employment and role ambiguity in these state enterprises.

The investigative piece describes the common practice of individuals concurrently holding positions within these institutions while simultaneously employed by other state organizations, sparking concerns over the efficient utilization of public resources.

A Case of Khulo Municipality

The investigative piece describes cases, such as a Khulo Sakrebulo (Ajara region) faction deputy chair working in a museum and a technical worker of recording and processing of folklore archival materials simultaneously employed in a water supply company.

In 2021, an internal audit of Khulo City Hall identified a notable breach in employment practices. The audit revealed that at least 18 individuals were working at the N(N)LE Khulo Culture Center, an institution established by the city hall, while also maintaining full-time employment in other state organizations. This situation was assessed as a significant violation.

Among the institutions established by the Khulo City Hall, the Khulo Culture Center has the highest number of employees, second only to the union of kindergartens within the municipality.

More than half of the total Khulo budget was used for the salaries of 169 people working in the Khulo Culture Center during the reporting period. The audit also notes that employees did not perform their duties properly at the center’s libraries.

Within the municipality of Khulo, home to a population of 27,000 residents, a total of 800 individuals find employment across 10 N(N)LPs established by the City Hall. Strikingly, nearly 30% of the Khulo budget is allocated for employee salaries within these N(N)LPs. The rise of number freelancer workers since 2015 has also consequently led to an automatic increase in the overall payroll.

The situation in Khulo Municipality is not unique. The reason for the greater visibility of these issues in Khulo is that, unlike many other municipalities and even the central government, Khulo Municipality did not withhold the internal audit findings. As a prevailing practice, municipalities often choose to keep these findings confidential, claiming that the audit reports are considered “working documents.” And this, despite the court decision, which after IDFI sued the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia for withholding the internal audit conclusions ruled in 2017 that “reporting and control are an integral part of the budget process and everyone has the right to know the results of audit conclusions and revisions on the activities of public institutions”.

Akhaltsikhe and Tikubuli Municipalities

Radio Liberty was also able to obtain some information from Akhaltsikhe and Tkibuli municipalities, where significant issues have been detected. Diverse roles were a problem in Akhaltsikhe, where, for instance, a janitor and piano technician were involved in curriculum development at a music school.

In Akhaltsikhe, the employment contracts of the staff of the music school which is managed by the town hall, do not specify either the salary or the job description of the employees.

The audit of the Association of Cultural Sites of Tkibuli Municipality, which has around 200 employees, found unclear roles, duplication of functions and some employees with little to do. The entity also made questionable purchases during the pandemic, including tools and equipment unrelated to its functions.

Enduring Criticism of LEPLs and N(N)LEs by the CSOs

Over time, anti-corruption groups in Georgia have been expressing worries about how efficiently LEPLs and N(N)LEs work and whether they’re actually needed.

The watchdogs have repeatedly urged the government to revisit the existing employment practices in Ministries and LEPLs in order to reduce the risks of nepotism and corruption, as well as to provide detailed definitions of the advisors’, consultants’ and experts’ scope of work in the agencies.

Moreover, CSOs have repeatedly argued that the lack of transparency in managing N(N)LEs is frequently exploited by the ruling party to boost its administrative resources, especially in the run-up to the elections.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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