At the Government Meeting on August 9, 2021, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, spoke about the necessity of increasing the salaries of public servants. According to the Prime Minister, the remuneration of public sector employees could not compete with the private sector. Accordingly, from 2022, it is planned to raise salaries in the public sector.
By considering upcoming local self-government elections, the Prime Minister spoke with special emphasis on the low remuneration of mayors. According to him, the salaries of mayors amount to 1,800-2,000 GEL, which is completely inconsistent with today’s reality. According to the Prime Minister, their salaries will be practically doubled.
This article reviews the current policies for determining the salaries of municipal mayors, legislative regulations, and the appropriateness of pre-election promises made by the Prime Minister.
From 2018, the issues of remuneration in public institutions are regulated by the Law on Remuneration of Labor in Public Institutions. The following law also applies to the employees working in the municipal bodies. The most significant update with regard to the law is the system of salary coefficients for the different types of employees and public officials. The mentioned system determines the coefficients of remuneration to be paid to different categories of employees/officials and their marginal amounts. Assignment of the coefficient category defined by the hierarchy of positions to the employee is provided by the head of the institution, which is multiplied by the basic salary and is reflected in the staff list. The salaries of the officials of the City Hall and other employees are approved by the Municipal Council upon the proposal of the mayor.
In public institutions, according to the Law on Remuneration of Labor, the coefficient of the upper salary of the mayor of the city municipalities is – 6.0 (the Mayor of Tbilisi City Hall – 8.5). Taking into account the base salary (1,000 GEL), the current legislation allows mayors to set a salary of up to 6,000 GEL on their proposal and with the consent of the City Assembly. Examination of the current staff lists of municipal mayors reveals that the salary of the mayors in the municipalities varies between 2,600 GEL and 4,500 GEL (net salary from 2,080 GEL to 3,600 GEL). Consequently, none of the mayors of any municipality has used the opportunity allowed by law to determine their remuneration in the amount of 6 thousand GEL.
As of today, the differences between the monthly salaries of mayors does not depend on the size of the municipality. For example, the highest salary (4,500 GEL) is set for the mayors of Batumi, Rustavi, and Gardabani municipalities. In addition, compared to other municipalities, the Mayor of Mestia (4,200 GEL), the Mayor of Marneuli (4,100 GEL), the Mayor of Bolnisi (3,950 GEL), the Mayor of Borjomi (3,750 GEL), and the Mayor of Tetritskaro (3,600 GEL) are notable due to their high salaries. The monthly salary of the mayors of the other municipalities is less than 3,500 GEL. For example, the salary of the Mayor of Tbilisi is 3,180 GEL, the mayor of Telavi - 3,100 GEL, the mayors of Kutaisi, Zugdidi, and Poti - 2,750 GEL, the mayor of Gurjaani - 2,650 GEL, the mayor of Tianeti - 2,600 GEL.
Analysis of the existing legal regulations on remuneration and the salary policy of the mayor of each municipality shows that, at present, each mayor of the municipality, with the consent of the city assembly, has the opportunity to increase their salary through their own proposals. The current legislation allows municipalities, within the existing marginal quotas, to make independent decisions regarding the definition of wage policy. In particular, the highest-paid mayors, given the marginal amount, have the opportunity to increase their salaries by about 30%, while the lowest-paid mayors by about 130%. Accordingly, the existing remuneration of the mayors is conditional upon the political decision of the mayors of the municipality and the existing wage policy in the municipalities. This, in turn, is in line with the existing model of self-government, because self-government itself and not the central government should determine the wage policy in the municipality.
IDFI believes that the promises made by the Prime Minister during the pre-election period to increase salaries of public servants can be perceived as an attempt to influence the electoral process. The Prime Minister's promise to double the salaries of mayors, provided that the law does not restrict them from making such a decision independently, clearly points to the problems of decentralization in self-governments.
The publication was prepared in frames of the project – Empowered Civil Society and Enhanced Beneficial Ownership Transparency Standards for Good Governance – funded by the Governments of Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia through Visegrad Grants from International Visegrad Fund. The mission of the fund is to advance ideas for sustainable regional cooperation in Central Europe.
The responsibility of the content of the article lies with the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI). It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of International Visegrad Fund.
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