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One programme slammed, another presented

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, April 21
MPs from the ruling National Movement described the Parliamentary opposition Christian Democrat candidate for Tbilisi Mayor Gia Chanturia’s election campaign promises as 'absurd' and 'unrealistic' on April 20.

The initial discussion between the Parliamentary majority and minority groups had been about energy. The Christian Democrats has demanded that Minister of Energy Aleksandre Khetaguri come to Parliament to answer questions concerning the installation of individual meters in the villages. "The companies obliged to install these meters are avoiding doing it, as they get more money from the use of existing common meters, which violate the rights of Georgian citizens. The Government is also refusing to intervene to protect our citizens’ rights,” Christian Democrat Levan Vephkhvadze stated. In response the Chair of Parliament's Economic Committee Giorgi Meladze attacked the CDM Mayoral candidate’s election promises and called them populist. "The Minister of Energy is not in Georgia at the present moment but will come to Parliament on April 22 and talk about how this problem might be resolved. As for your candidate's election promises of 10 tetri electricity, 5 tetri gas and free water, these can be considered purely populist and unrealistic,” Meladze said. Vephkhvadze stated in return that such tariff levels could certainly be set by making sensible agreements. "I remind my colleagues that they should be thankful to Chanturia for the pipeline through which Georgia receives gas at the present moment. None of our promises are unrealistic and only correct politics is needed to fulfil them. The current Ministers are thinking only about their own prosperity and not the people. GEL 17 million is being spent annually from the state budget on water for the fountain built on the order of the President, while providing water for the whole population costs GEL 10 million annually,” Vephkhvadze said.

Another Mayoral candidate, the Alliance for Georgia's Irakli Alasania, presented his employment programme on April 20 and outlined its priorities. Under the programme 20,000 family and small enterprises are to be opened in Tbilisi. "We will create a special fund of GEL 120 million, of which GEL 50 million will be allocated from the municipal budget, GEL 20 million from bond offers and the rest from other donors. The maximum loan a prospective entrepreneur will be able to get from this fund is GEL 200,000, repayable at 8 % interest over 18 months. This programme will significantly increase the number of employed people in Tbilisi,” Alasania said. He added that a special post of Business Ombudsman to protect the rights of businessmen will be introduced.10 consultation centres will also be opened in Tbilisi where businessmen will be given legal and intellectual assistance. Fellow Alliance member Davit Gamkrelidze said that "this is a very serious programme, which we have worked on for a long time. It will enable the owners of small and medium-sized businesses to take out loans under very comfortable conditions so they can launch their businesses.”

The presentation was also attended by analysts. Davit Onoprishvili said, "this project has been created with the assistance of analysts and I am one of the authors of it. I can say that it is an absolutely viable project. We have created it based on similar examples from Finland, Hungary, Lithuania and Estonia. The International Monetary Fund has been demanding that we help small and medium-sized businesses for many years and this project will be a big step in this direction and will significantly affect the unemployment problem in the capital."