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Saakashvili Lays Out Economic Plans for Georgia

By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, October 27
On October 26, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili chaired a government session in Batumi. The main issue for the discussion was the 10-point governmental strategic plan oriented towards macroeconomic stability. Various MPs and business representatives attended the session on to the president’s invitation. As the officials claim, the document includes all the necessary preconditions for modernizing the country and employing people.

Prime Minister Nika Gilauri shared macroeconomic parameters with his colleagues and guests, stressing the increase in economic indicators for the third quarter of the year. The strategic plan, which will soon be accessible for the public on the internet, will be renewed twice a year. What Gilauri believes the most important plan in the document is to make Georgia a regional centre. As the PM forecast, there would be 5,000 new employees in road infrastructural activities, 20,000 in water systems, 13-15,000 in the energy sector, and 8-10,000 in railway projects. Welcoming the successful development in the agricultural sector, Gilauri hoped to reduce imports in the near future.

President Saakashvili stressed the necessity for inviting people who should personally participate in implementing the social projects. “Those, who should take responsibility for employing people, should be actively engaged in discussing the social part of the document,” Saakashvili said confident that the remarks and recommendations of those officials would play an important role in the successful implementation of the 5-year project.

Suggesting that this was “a very important proposal” the president announced that any businessman, who would hire people from 45 to 60 years old, would have special privileges in income taxation as an extra incentive for businesses. Worried about educated people who were not lucky in life, Saakashvili hoped to decrease the number of unemployed in the private sector. Stressing that they would offer similar new privileges to business representatives, the President promised to assist in training new staff according to the demands of the labor market.

Expressing his discontent with the Department of Vine and Wine "SAMTREST" of the Georgian Ministry of Agriculture, the president announced the sacking of its head, Vasil Managadze. “We are moving to international markets at a snail’s pace. This man [Vasil Managadze] could have done something during all these years,” said the president. The newly appointed Minister of Agriculture Zaza Gorozia will choose the best manager for this position through a contest.

The new head of SAMTREST will be responsible for promoting high quality Georgian wines on the international market. The future of our wines, according to the president, should not depend on the heads of the relevant institutions of other countries. This was a reference to the Russian Chief Sanitarian Gennady Onishenko.

The president praised the former Minister Bakur Kvezereli, who would continue his activities at the Agricultural Partnership Fund uniting the state and private sectors. “Bakur is a really good specialist and we would ensure the equal participation of the state in the direction we are following [in the agricultural sector],” Saakashvili stated.

Welcoming the results of the hybrid corn project, Saakashvili said he had great expectations, and had initiated the teaching of smallholding farmers how to properly plant the corn. It was the idea of the ruling United National Movement (UNM) MP Akaki Bobokhidze to make a list of people who have bought the corn and exempt them from additional payments for hybrid corn seeds in future.

As the political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger the private sector is already freely employing people of any age according to their professionalism thus the privileges promised by the president will not have any particular importance for their development. Meanwhile, political opponents may take the president’s initiative to be part of the UNM’s pre-election campaign.