UN's Engagement with Saakashvili
Included $1500 a Month, Soros and Sweden Also Paid
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, August 25 --
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was paid $1500 a month by the UN
Development Program earlier this decade, on top of his official
salary, UNDP has told Inner City Press. UNDP says the goals of these
in which the Swedish government and financier George Soros joined, were
allow the Georgian "government to recruit the staff it needed and also
help remove incentives for corruption."
While receiving these $1500 monthly payment,
Saakashvili committed to
increase tax collection in Georgia. Deals were signed with , among
British Petroleum, for the Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan oil pipeline. UNDP,
presumably its two co-funders, applauded this development.
Last week at the UN, Russia
accused the UN's Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs of being biased in its mapping of refugee flows created by the Georgia - South Ossetia -
Russia conflict. Russia also accused UN political chief Lynn Pascoe, an
of being biased in his briefing of the Security Council. The US
UNDP lists and offered
praise for this paying of Saakashvili's salary.
Inner City Press first reported on
UNDP's Governance Reform Program in
Georgia in late 2006. Earlier
this month, as the Georgian conflict heated up, Inner City Press
asked UNDP how much was spent under the program? Where did the
come from? Who got paid? Has the program continued?
UN's Ban Ki-moon and Saakashvili, UN funding
to Saakashvili not shown
Six days later, UNDP responded to Inner City Press
Georgia, the Governance Reform Program initiative you asked about, was
two-pronged. To enable the government to recruit the staff it needed
to help remove incentives for corruption, UNDP created a Salary
Fund, funded initially by $1 million from OSI and $500,000 from UNDP,
supplemented by another $1 million from the Swedish International
Cooperation Agency (SIDA). This fund was designed to provide leading
servants with a wage that, though modest by international standards,
sufficient for Georgia. The fund targeted the country's highest
President, Prime Minister, and Speaker of the Parliament each received
per month, ministers, $1,200, deputy ministers, $700.
order to make the programme as efficient as possible, a clear "exit
strategy" was built into the program, so that the government committed
assuming responsibility for the salary supplements over three years.
government was required to make a credible commitment to increase tax
in order to cover this rise in expenditure. Transparency was viewed as
essential, and the government agreed to post all details of the salary
supplements on an open website (http://www.drf.org.ge/).
Finally, and most
importantly, the government agreed that the salary supplements would be
piece of a larger effort to streamline the existing bureaucracy and
its place a well-paid and well-organized civil service.
second prong of the initiative was a Capacity Building Fund. This was
to provide the government with short-term specialist expertise in areas
urgent concern and longer-term support in capacity building at a
ministries and other state institutions.
government has been so successful in improving tax collection that the
supplement program for top officials was fully taken over by the state
after just a single year (rather than the planned three). Thanks to a
curb evasion and improve administration, tax revenue increased by 50%,
percentage points of GDP, just in 2004. Unused UNDP and OSI funds
salary supplements were at this point transferred to the Capacity
for use in civil service reform.
Notably, the web
site that UNDP says it insisted on was slow to load on
Monday. So much for transparency... Why
would Soros' Open Society Institute use UNDP to
channel money to "top-off" Saakashvili's and a few others' salaries? In
how many other countries does UNDP perform this function? This last,
we'll be reporting further on. But first, UNDP should answer some
site. And this (on