The Price of the State is a new, innovative project implemented by Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC), implemented in the framework of the East-West Management Institute’s (EWMI) Policy, Advocacy, and Civil Society Development in Georgia (G-PAC) Program, funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
In Georgia, much like elsewhere, a taxpayer is not only an employee or an employer with an income tax obligation, but rather any consumer in the economy, and therefore virtually every citizen. Georgian taxpayers are subject to a complex taxation scheme at almost every instance of economic transaction, including the so called indirect taxes paid while making purchases. However, they remain practically unaware of the sums that are transferred to the state budget from their pockets, not to mention how this money is further allocated. To put it simply, the society has little to no understanding of the ”price” it pays for maintaining the State. An average citizen, regardless of the frequency of the use of public service, or an interest in a particular budgetary priority, does not understand the true financial load that he or she bears individually for receiving this service.
- Do you want to know how much is the State Budget of Georgia?
- How much does the government collect in taxes per year?
- How much do we owe?
- How much is your contribution in providing healthcare, education or other programs, servicing debts, or for paying salaries to the government officials?
- How much do you work for yourself and how much for the State?
- How much do you actually pay for services that the State claims are provided for me for “free”?
The Price of the State web-site gives you answers to these questions. It provides a comprehensive tool for giving the information that is scattered around the web-sites of different ministries and other governmental organizations, or even is not available without asking the Ministry of Finance for providing the information to you. The data is given in a systemized way that coordinates and harmonizes the data for a common user.
Moreover, in Georgia, no tool exists to analyze budgetary expenses from per capita or per employed individual perspective, which would help understand the real “state burden” for each citizen and each working individual.
Establishing such practice of research and making it available and accessible for the public in an understandable manner will help citizens realize their personal financial role in the State, which will raise civil awareness. Individuals will have an easy reference to understand the sources of budgetary expenditures, to assess the necessity of particular budgetary expenses proposed by the State, and to analyze the economic affects that an increase in budgetary expenses has on their pockets. Thus, the aim of the project is to empower citizens with knowledge and information needed to engage actively and meaningfully in critically important budgetary processes at every stage – formation, allocation, implementation and monitoring. The capacity to understand the budgetary processes and priorities of the government is a necessary step towards a greater objective of politically engaged citizenry and a more accountable government.
The idea of this project was prepared within the framework of the study visit of EPRC representatives to Slovakia organized by through USAID G-PAC program. The project is the analogue of the Slovak www.priceofthestate.org prepared by Institute of Economic and Social Studies (INESS).