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Opposition parties make new welfare proposals

By Etuna Tsotniashvili
Wednesday, September 16
On September 15 Christian Democrat MP Magda Anikashvili voiced the initiative at a briefing in Parliament that a childbirth component should be added to the Government’s Cheap Insurance Programme. She said that the state should also cover childbirth expenditures alongside accident and emergency needs, because maternity is one of the most expensive medical services and often even families supported by a salary have difficulty paying for it. Anikahsvili highlighted that this problem is more acute in the regions and expressed her hope that State will not have any problem allotting the sums required.

“The Government set aside GEL 20 million for this programme on the grounds that about half a million people would participate in it. At present only 120,000 have done so, so GEL 15 million has not been used and this can fund the childbirth component,” Anikashvili stated yesterday, adding that the Christian Democrats plan to hold meetings with insurance companies concerning this issue.

Another member of the Parliamentary opposition, Jondi Baghaturia, also held a briefing yesterday. Baghaturia demanded that pensions be increased and an additional GEL 400-450 million added to the pension fund to achieve this. He explained that it is quite possible to find such an amount by decreasing state administrative expenditure.

Baghaturia stated last year’s Russia-Georgia war and the world financial crisis have had a serious effect on pensioners, and of the 850,000 pensioners in Georgia 600,000 live in extremely poor conditions. He said that their pensions of GEL 75 should equal the subsistence level. “According to statistics the subsistence level in Georgia is about GEL 150-155 and we think that the pension should therefore be a minimum of GEL 150,” Baghaturia said, adding that this will be a perfect outcome for 600,000 poor pensioners. Baghaturia concluded that his party, Georgian Troupe, has already prepared a draft law regarding this issue and will present it to Parliament next week for discussion.

Meanwhile on September 14 Vice-Speaker of Parliament and Christian Democrat Levan Vephkhvadze announced an initiative to establish a new basic financing level for higher educational institutions. He said that the basic financing should be proportional to the number of students an institute has and it would act as direct financial assistance for families which could not pay tuition fees. He added that students can only enter an educational establishment, not actually study there, because tuition fees are an insurmountable barrier for families under financial pressure.

“If someone who has passed the examinations does not pay their tuition fees before September 19, they will not become a student. The families registered as needy are unable to pay these fees, as are people in the regions,” stated Vephkhvadze, who reckons about 50,000 families in Georgia are affected by this. The Christian Democrats hope the Government will support them and express a readiness to hold consultations with the Georgian Government and present their own views on how to resolve this problem.