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‘Government week’ launched in Georgian Parliament

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, March 23
Georgian will see a 5-7 percent economic growth in the current year, Georgia’s Prime Minister, Nika Gilauri said during his address to the Parliament on Tuesday. He noted that internal and external debts and the 9 percent budget deficit will also decrease by 3-4 percent in the next 3 years. He attributed current “social and economic problems” to the fact that during the last two years the Georgian government was focused on “maintaining the economy” and not on “advancing it.” “Our aim was maintaining the existing jobs and investors, in order not to let the economy collapse, as we have seen in many other countries,” the Prime Minister noted, adding that the choice of the Georgian administration is a “healthy economy.”

Georgia will have the “best situation” in terms of inflation in 3 years time, Gilauri pointed out, saying “this is due to the fact that there is no monopolization and protectionism in our country.” He cited Georgia’s “strict” fiscal and monetary policy as one of the reasons for this. “However Georgia should not be satisfied with this only and we are taking specific steps too,” he said, naming the distribution of food and energy vouchers and increasing the minimum pension as examples.

According to Gilauri, poverty has decreased fourfold in Georgia in the last several years. “The problem was that the previous government was turning a blind eye in terms of poverty. The new government managed to face the problem and, as a result, 400 000 people are receiving state aid and insurance polices and 500 000 others receive additional insurance polices,” the PM stated.

The Georgian government is planning to issue 10-year euro obligations, according to Gilauri, adding that the main process of paying off external debts is starting in 2013. He presented a ten-point strategy of the country’s economic development. “We will implement this plan just like we implemented other directions,” Gilauri said, stressing the need to focus on export promotion, enhancing Georgia’s importance in regional context, developing infrastructure, micro and macro economic stability, social and healthcare programs, education, IDPS, establishing the country’s competitiveness and social-economic improvements.

Gilauri asserted that the price of medication has gone down in 2011. “We could talk about the price rise on medicines in previous years, however in 2011 they have decreased. I can give examples as well,” the PM said, however he did not actually name any of them.

The Georgian Finance Minister, Kakha Baindurashvili also addressed the Parliament on Tuesday. He said that that Georgia’s economy grew by 6.4 percent since the world economic crisis. “Compared to other countries, Georgia returned to the route of development faster,” the Minister noted, citing “indirect fiscal stimulations” as a reason. At the same time the Finance Minister stated that Georgia managed to survive the economic crisis thanks to the aid from Western states. “Now the aim of the Georgian government is to have inflation at 3 percent rate,” he noted.

He downplayed the claims of the opposition and the analysts about Georgia’s external debts, saying that it is “one of the lowest” considering the international norms. “Only 4 percent of the state budget is spent on serving external debts. In 2003 the external debt was more than 60 percent compared to the country’s GDP. The government’s wish is that the external debt of Georgia does not exceed 45 percent, in order to have a chance to maneuver in the event of another economic crisis period,” the Finance Minister noted.

The Parliamentary opposition criticized Gilauri’s and Baindurashvili’s addresses, saying that they “hoped they would have been more self-critical.” “No matter how many figures they cite, the standard of living in the country is dire,” MP from the Christian-Democratic Movement, Giorgi Targamadze said “The development of economy should be depended on business and private initiative. However the representatives of the executive branch have not mentioned how the businesses should feel safe,” Targamadze noted. He called the Georgian government for decriminalizing economic misdemeanors.” Is the government ready to decriminalize economic misdemeanors? Nowadays even for 25 thousand Lari misdemeanor the criminal case is being launched usually,” the opposition MP said.

Meanwhile MP from the Free Democrats Party, Giorgi Tsagarieishvili said he is interested “where the money spent for vouchers comes from.” “I am also interested why the government is saying nothing about the origins of GEL 150 million, which should be poured into the development of the agriculture sphere,” he noted.

Parliamentary minority leaders have also questioned Gilauri’s statement about the decrease of prices on medicines. After the Prime Minister’s address, MP from CDM Giorgi Akhvlediani demanded that the PM named a specific drug store, where the prices have decreased. “People are calling and asking where they can find a drug store with lower prices, because they are searching for it and are not able to find,” Akhvlediani said.

The representatives of the Parliamentary majority, MP Petre Tsiskarishvili downplayed the claims of the opposition in terms of prices on medicines, saying that he can name a drugstore, where the medicines are sold for “cheaper prices”, however he said he will not name it “on purpose because it will be perceived as an advertisement.”

The addresses of Georgian Minister’s at the Parliament were held in frames of “Government week” at Georgia’s lawmaking institution. Other ministers are also expected to address parliament next days.