State Funding to Strengthen the Orthodox Faith

The Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) studies the state funding provided to the Patriarchate of Georgia, its eparchies and individual churches and monasteries. The present interim report provides information about the funding of churches from the state budget in Tbilisi (district municipalities), Kutaisi, Batumi, Ozurgeti and Rustavi; it also presents the projects related to the celebration of the 80th birthday and 35th anniversary from enthronization of the Patriarch of Georgia, supported by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia.

The Patriarchate of Georgia, individual eparchies, churches and monasteries who are granted 25 million GEL from the state budget each year, are also financed by local governmental bodies, state foundations and ministries. Transparency International Georgia (TI) published the study on the funding of the Patriarchate in 2013 and there were also the number of articles dedicated to this topic in the online publication “Netgazeti”. Nonetheless, the abovementioned practice of the state funding requires further in-depth research, dissemination of information to the public and actualization of the problem.

It shall be stated, that in general, the given form of relationship between the state and church, in view of the formulation of objectives of funding of the Patriarchate, as they are provided in the budget law, violates the principle of secularism enshrined in the Constitution of Georgia and takes a form of support of a specific religious doctrine. There is no assertion that the State finances the Orthodox Church of Georgia to meet its obligation emanated by the Constitutional Agreement, which requires compensation of the damages inflicted to the Church during the Soviet times. Furthermore, the present rule of financing clearly constitutes a discriminatory practice, as it treats disparately other religious organizations, which do not enjoy financial privileges or support of ideology. Moreover, structuring the budgetary goals this way, the State, practically, also defies the principle of neutrality towards all the religious organizations. It is explicitly stated in the Law on Budget, Title on Priorities and Programs for 2014-2017:

To inculcate Christian values in the youth, in different regions of Georgia (including mountainous regions) more than 70 educational, cultural and charity organizations of the Patriarchate will be financed, inter alia, religious academies and seminaries, university, school-gymnasiums, shelters for mothers and children, boarding schools for orphans and children without caregivers, the center for rehabilitation and adaptation of the hearing-impaired children, professional colleges and artisan colleges.” (Law of Georgia On the State Budget of Georgia for 2014, 8.5 Patriarchate of Georgia (Program Code 45 00))

Moreover, the sums granted to the Patriarchate and individual churches is not transparent, there is no official control on spending of this money and hence, it is unknown, whether this sum is spent in compliance with the stated objectives, for which state allocated this money or not. The lack of control certainly gives us a motive to think about possibility of illegal accountancy with respect to the non-transparent funding of the Patriarchate of Georgia and affiliated organizations.

It shall be mentioned, that in the resolutions on budget of municipal government agencies, there is a separate program entitled “Culture, Religion, Youth and Sport Activities” and subprograms, entitled “Support of the Religious Organizations”, whereas in some places, it is directly stated “Support of the Churches” (instead of religious organizations), as well as “religious and other type of social activities”. Sometimes, we see that the indicator for financing of the religious organizations (for example, in the Resolution on the Budget for the Year 2013) is “Reinforcement of the Christian Orthodox Faith”.

In 2013, 10 district municipalities of Tbilisi allocated 1,478,962 in total to the Orthodox Churches. In Kutaisi, the Kutaisi-Gaenati Eparchy was granted 71,500 Lari in 2011, 45,000 Lari – in 2012 and 202,400 Lari – in 2013. As part of the church support program, the municipal government of Ozurgeti granted  60,000 Lari to the Shemokmedi Eparchy in 2011, 55000 Lari – in 2012 and 57 000 Lari  – in 2013.  In Batumi, in 2010-2012, 1, 816, 829 Lari were spent to support Orthodox churches and monasteries. In Rustavi, as part of the program “Culture, Religion, Support of the Youth and Sport”, the Rustavi and Marneuli Eparchy was granted 15 000 Lari in 2013, while 3, 645.5 Lari was spent for building of the “Residence of the High Priest and the Church”; In 2012 the Rustavi and Marneuli Eparchy Residence and Vakhtang Gorgasali Cathedral Church was granted 7007,09 Lari and in 2011 Rustavi and Marneuli Eparchy was granted 15 500 Lari.

 

Tbilisi

The churches and monasteries within the administrative boundaries of a given district municipality is provided financial support from the city budget, program for “Other Activities for Facility Improvements”. In general, within this program various infrastructural projects are carried out in the City. The representatives of the district municipalities stated that the amount of financial support allotted to a church is decided at the session of the district municipality government, in view of the applications from churches and within the assets determined in the budget for the relevant year.

The data-analysis shows that in most cases, a specific church gets sums of money multiple times throughout the year. For example, Kojori Assumption of the Virgin Mary Monastery in the district of Mtatsminda was granted 14,000 Lari  on 22 April, 2013, 15,000 Lari – on 24 June 2013, 25,000 Lari – on 25 June 2013, 4500 Lari – on 12 December, 2013, which amount to 58,000 Lari in total. In the Krtsanisi District, Saint Nicholas Church received 35,000 Lari two times, 1,500 – the third time and 5,000 lari  – the fourth time, which amounts to 76,500 Lari in total. It is also frequent that the same church is financed continuously for the number of years.

In 2013, the biggest amount of money from the municipal budget allocated for “Other Activities for Facility Improvements”, was granted to churches by Krtsanisi (26 %), Gldani (10,9%) and Mtatsminda districts (7.8%) if we compare percentages. It is noteworthy that since March 1, 2013, Tbilisi Territory was divided into 10 districts instead of previous 6 districts, which made it easier to mobilize resources for the relatively smaller territorial units. For comparison, in 2012 there was 333,800 Lari allocated for churches in Vake-Saburtalo district, while in 2013, the total sum provided by Vake District and Saburtalo District to the churches within their boundaries amounted together to 358,000 Lari. In the same vein, the churches in Isani District and Samgory District were granted by 233,454 Lari in total from the local budget in 2013, whereas in 2012,  92,700 Lari was allotted to the churches in Isani-Samgori District in 2012, and 128, 000 Lari – in 2011.

In the tables provided by the district municipalities, at times there are physical persons among beneficiaries; For example, in Nadzaladevi district, 2,000 Lari was granted to Mariam Katamadze on 30 April, 2013.

The District Municipality Year Provided Money Percentage Ration in the Budget Determined for the District Facility Improvement Activities
Mtatsminda District Municipality 2013  315,508  Lari 7,8 %
Vake District Municipality 2013 201,000 Lari 5,7%
Vake-Saburtalo Municipality (From1 January to 1 March, 2013) 48 000 Lari  
Vake-Saburtalo District Municipality 20122011 333, 800 Lari152,000 Lari  
Saburtalo District Municipality 2013 157,000   Lari 6,6 %
Krtsanisi District Municpality 2013 187,000  Lari 26 %
Samgori DIstrict Municipality 2013 140,500  Lari 6,2 %
Isani District Municiipality 2013 92,954   Lari 5%
Isani-Samgori District Municipality 20122011 92,700 Lari128,000 Lari  
Didube District Municipality 2013 75, 000 Lari 5,9 %
Didube-Chugureti District Municipality 20122011 153,000 Lari71,338 Lari  
Chugureti District Municipality 2013 30, 000 Lari 1,9%
Gldani District Municipality 2013 157,000  Lari 10,9%
Gldani-Nadzaladevi District Municipality 20122011 100,000 Lari100,000 Lari  
Nadzaladevi District Municipality 2013 75,000   Lari 4,2 %

Tbilisi 2013 –  Sum Total 1, 478 ,962 Lari

Tbilisi  2012 – 679,500 Lari  (Four Municipalities)

Tbilisi 2011 – 451,338 Lari (Four Municipalities)

 

 

See the details at:

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7jcTlJbeGWGbHYzNG91QTZ0bWs/edit?usp=sharing

 

Kutaisi

From all the religious organizations present, only Kutaisi-Gaenati Eparchy is provided annual funding, as subsidy from the budget of the self-governing town – Kutaisi. Except for the Orthodox Church, no other religious organization gets funding. This funding is provided as part of the program “Culture, Religion, Youth and Sport Activities (05 00)”, sub-program “Kutaisi – Gaenati Eparchy”. The objectives of the sub-program are as follows: financial support of the churches and monasteries on the territory of the town, as well as small-scale rehabilitation works in some churches and at the adjacent territories.

In 2011, the above-mentioned Eparchy was granted 71500 Lari from the Budget, in 2012 – 45, 000 Lari and in 2013, compared with the previous year, the funding of the Eparchy was increased four and half times and amounted to 202, 400 Lari. It shall be noted here, that in 2013, the funding for the program “Provision of Anticonvulsant Medication to People with Epilepsy and Preventive Medical Examination of the Pupils in the Elementary Schools” amounted to zero Lari and funding for the Service of the Social Centers for Aged People amounted to 23, 400 Lari. The same year, the Eparchy was granted 202, 400 Lari from the municipal budget. Out of this sum, 11845 Lari was used to pay for electricity and other utilities. According to the budget plan for 2014, 12 000 Lari is provided for the Eparchy.

 

Ozurgeti

The municipal government of Ozurgeti transferred to the Shemokmedy Eparchy 60 000 Lari in 2011, 55 000 Lari – in 2012 and 57 000 Lari – in 2013 as part of the program “Culture, Religion and Youth and Sport Activities”, sub-program “Support to the Religious Organizations”. The budget plan for 2014 provides 70 000 Lari for the same purpose. The detailed budget uses wording “Program for the Support of Churches” instead of “Support of Religious Organizations”.

According to the explanation provided by the deputy governor of the Municipality, George Gurjumelidze, there is special program for the support of churches in the budget, according to which certain funds are transferred to the Eparchy annually in response to the received applications and based on the orders of the governor. In the official letter to TDI, it is stated that the Municipal Government has no information in respect with the disposal of the funds. No other religious organizations are financed from the budget, except for the Orthodox Church.

It is noteworthy, that the funds provided to the Shemokmedi Eparchy in 2013 (57,000 Lari) significantly exceeds the resources provided for other important social programs. For example, program for one-time financial assistance to the double orphan children under 18 is financed with 600 Lari, program for assistance of aged people  – 1,400 Lari; the funding for the day care for indignant children was almost half of the amount transferred to the Eparchy – 30 000 Lari. The sums allocated for allowances to the Blind People are almost five times less – 12, 600 Lari. Moreover, money spent on the program for assistance of the people suffering with renal failure also amounted to 12,600 Lari and money spent on the program for assistance of the people with disability amounted to 40,100 Lari.

Batumi

In Batumi, in 2010-2012, 1, 816 829 Lari was spent to support the Orthodox churches and monasteries.

The reconstruction of the Saint Nicholas Church cost 1, 224 016 Lari in 2010-2012. The Purchase and installation of outdoor lighting cost 208, 492 Lari in 2010-2011. The facade isolation works in the Saint Nicholas Church cost 34,321 Lari in 2011. Capacity building and development of the Batumi and Lazeti Eparchy of the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia cost 350,000 Lari in 2011.

 

Rustavi

There is a separate heading “Assistance to the Residence of the High Priest and Churches (05 04)” in the program of the “Culture, Religion, Youth Support and Sport” (05 00) in the municipal budget.

According to the official letter addressed to TDI, Rustavi and Marneuli Eparchy received 15, 000 Lari and Rustavi Annunciation of the Saint Mary Church received 3,500 Lari in 2011, which is 19,000 Lari in total.

In 2012, Rustavi and Marneuli Eparchy Residence and Rustavi Vakhtang Gorgasali Cathedral Church received 700,709 Lari.

In 2013, Rustavi and Marneuli Eparchy received 15,000 Lari and 36,425 Lari was provided for the Residence of the High Priest and the Church.

The plan for 2014 provides 24 000 Lari for this program.

 

 

The Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection

 

The Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection allotted 874,665 Lari in 2013 and 433,000 Lari in 2012 to celebrate the 80th birthday and 35th anniversary from enthronization of the Catholicos – Patriarch of All Georgia, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II.

As part of this program, the following activities were funded:

  • The Album “Georgian – Greek Manuscript” – preparation and publication (3000 copies); the exhibition and presentation was held in the National Library on 12 December, 2012. Budget – 24, 602 Lari;
  • Preparation and publication of the facsimile version of “Georgian – Greek Manuscript” (1000 copies). Budget – 125, 000 Lari;
  • Preparation and publication of the Album “Georgian Manuscript Book” (1000 copies); Presentation was held in the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection on 27 December, 2012. Budget – 11, 220 Lari;
  • Photo-exhibition “The Treasures of the Christian Art” – 9 exhibitions were organized in Mtskheta, Stepantsminda, Signagi, Telavi, Tsinandali, Kvareli, Gurjaani, Penitentiary Establishment, Tbilisi Ivane Javakhsvili State University; Budget – 46,520 Lari;
  • International Conference “Returning to Spirituality” (High Priest Daniel); the project was carried out by the International Center for the Christian Research affiliated with the Church. As part of the project, photo-exhibition, presentation of the photo-album “Time of Mercy”, video-recording of the anniversary celebration, preparation of the documentary movie were carried out; Budget – 194,124 Lari;
  • Concert in the J. Kakhidze Musical Center on 25 December, 2012; Budget – 31,600 Lari;
  • Charity Concert of the Foundation “Iavnana” in Tbilisi Concert Hall on 4 January, 2013; Budget – 59,375 Lari;
  • Concert in Tbilisi Concert Hall on 11 January, 2013. The disc with the chants of the Patriarch was recorded (5000 copies); Budget – 176,555 Lari;
  • Edition and publication of the Patriarch Epistles: one volume edition, 10 000 copies and two volumes edition, 1500 copies; Budget – 272, 343 Lari;
  • Reception and dinner in the Sheraton Metekhi Palace in honor of the visit of the World Patriarch on 13 January, 2013; Budget – 59,981 Lari.
  • Reception of the Chairman of the Parliament on 12 January, 2013. Budget – 13,331 Lari;
  • Reception in the University of the Patriarchate; Budget – 5,080 Lari;
  • Production of Memorabilia, Budget – 96, 340 Lari;
  • Edition and publication of the Epistles of the Patriarch in English, 3000 copies; Budget – 50,750 Lari;
  • Viewing of the film “At the Price of Life” in the Cinema Amirani; Budget – 6,260 Lari;
  • Accommodation of the guests in the hotel “Marriott” and their transportation; Budget – 134, 650 Lari.

[1] Until 1 March, 2013, territory of Tbilisi was divided into 6 districts: Old Tbilis, Vake-Saburtalo, Isani-Samgori, Dibube-Chugureti, Gldani-Nadzaladevi and Didgori. Pursuant to the Decision no. 1-4 of Tbilisi City Council of 25 January, 2013, 10 district municipalities were formed: Mtatsminda, Vake, Saburtalo, Krtsanisi, Samgori, Isani, Didube, Chugureti, Gldani and Nadzaladevi.

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