Bonus system for all public officials to be unified
22 May, 2014
Bonus system for all public officials to be unified
The Georgian government is intent to work out a unified and transparent system of premium and add-ons for all government members and public officials. The issue became of high public interest lately and Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili ordered the Administration of Georgian government and the National Bureau of Public Service to work out a unified rule of defining premiums and salary add-ons to all state structures alike by the end of coming June. This system should be a flexible
and fair system in line with European standards.
“Once and for all there should be a system created in our country that will streamline the issue of salaries and add-ons of public and high ranking officials,” the PM said on 19 May. “This should be a transparent system so that no Georgian citizen would have a single question without receiving an answer.”
The issue of the volunteer system of disbursing bonuses and premiums to public officials has been criticized by non-governmental watchdogs including Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) and \ Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) throughout the 9-year long office-term of the ex-authorities, but to no avail. The issue used to pop on the screen now and then. The bonus rates were defined at personal discretion of the heads of administrations or departments and significantly exceeded the average volume of bonuses adopted in the developed world. The Georgian government did not strictly limit bonuses, they used to redistribute them per month while defining the amount based on the personal taste of top officials who frequently defined their own bonuses as well. The total amount of bonuses made up one-third or half of the wages, and sometimes even exceeded the monthly wage. No argumentation and explanation why this or that bonus was granted was attached to the financial papers in public service while the law requires the motivation of bonuses.
International practice shows that although the bonus calculation and distribution methodology is different in each country, everywhere [except in Georgia] it is regulated by law. The bonus benchmark and cap limits are strictly outlined by law and fluctuate within 10-20% of the wages. Besides, bonuses are redistributed only once a year after the year is completed and achievements summed up while in Georgia they are frequently redistributed in the beginning of the month.
The power shift in the fall of 2012 was expected to change this vicious practice, but it was only slightly amended: the Prime Minister only revoked the flexible bonus rates for ministers in March of 2013 and replaced it by monthly add-ons fixed at GEL 4,335. Plus, monthly salaries of GEL 3,540 were set for the ministries. Commensurately, the fixed monthly income of Georgian ministers reached GEL 7,875. The old bonus practice for deputy-ministers and other high-ranking officials remained in force. The issues was raised again after MP Irma Nadirashvili of the minority fraction trumpeted the information that staggering high premiums fluctuating between GEL 18,222 to GEL 39,130 were redistributed in December of 2013 to high-ranking personnel of Penitentiary Department’s, a substructure of the Ministry of Corrections of Georgia.
“Georgia is the only country where premiums are handed to governmental officials every month as regularly as salaries, and where their rate exceeds the salary amount,” Levan Avalishvili, an analyst with the IDFI, said in an interview with Georgian Journal. Each ministry handles this issue independently and so the system of premium delivery is different in every ministry and thus non-transparent. Normally, information on how premiums were redistributed among personnel should be made public via the official web-pages for example, but most of the ministries do not make this public. Some even withhold the information, even after official requests from the public sector. According to the most recent IDFI research, presented on 16 May, the only ministry that discloses full information on salaries and add-ons on the website is the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection. The IDFI required similar information from all other ministries, but only a few provided full data, some sent incomplete data, and others did not respond at all. From the available information IDFI calculated that in 2013 the volume of bonuses to high ranking officials in 14 ministries made up for GEL 5,729,131 while the add-ons totaled GEL 3,135,038.
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