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Encouraging signs in new state budget

M. Alkhazashvili
Translated by Diana Dundua
Thursday, December 20

The government is putting its money where its mouth has been. A new draft of the 2008 state budget accounts, according to Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze, for all of Mikheil Saakashvili’s social spending plans.

The money, all GEL 400 million of it, will come straight out of the defense budget.

This is almost surely not the final budget for 2008—this year’s budget was amended three times—but it nevertheless embodies a striking upset in spending priorities. November’s unrest, as much as the government would like to insist otherwise, was ultimately rooted in pervasive poverty.

Saakashvili’s administration was certainly never blind to the living conditions in the country, but it evidently overestimated Georgians’ patience.

While campaign pledges and draft budgets both suffer from an overabundance of supply, the government is giving all signs that it has clearly heard what the public deems its mission should now be. One only hopes the government’s memory is as sound as its hearing.