Georgian International Media Centre

IDFI in Media 21 December 2010



What has the president got to hide?

Georgia's president Mikheil Saakashvili is refusing to co-operate with a new website designed to tackle corruption and improve the free flow of information about how public money is spent in Georgia. has been created by the Open Society Foundation and the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information and has secured the co-operation of several ministries in the Georgian government.

But the president's office, the interior ministry, the refugees ministry and the education ministry: respectively the centre of power, the most powerful office outside the presidential palace, one of the most sensitive of all briefs and a ministry led by a man who many think is being groomed by Saakashvili for more power - have all refused to co-operate.

Together this suggests that all of them have something to hide about how they are spending money - particularly their highly secretive "reserve funds" or how, especially in the case of the refugees ministry, their use of foreign aid.

The initiative has already uncovered that some ministries are paying staff more in "bonuses" than in salary - making a mockery of the president's oft repeated claim that salary costs need to be held down to limit the budget deficit and that no one should look to the government as a comfortable posting.

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