Ministers Face MPs Questions during "Government Hour"
By Salome Modebadze
Friday, November 25The regular Government Hour was held on the last Thursday of the month at Georgian Parliament on November 24. Parliament members had the opportunity to get information about ongoing projects in energy and healthcare straight from the ministers. The Minister of Energy and National Recourses Alexander Khetaguri and Minister of Labour, Health and Social Protection Andria Urushadze answered questions from lawmakers after presenting their projects.
Emphasizing the importance of the 10-Point Strategic Development Plan for 2011-2015, the Minister of Energy spoke of constructing new hydro energy power stations as a precondition for economic prosperity. As Khetaguri stated, these power stations would create new jobs and employ people. “That’s what the government’s project envisages,” the minister said emphasizing that they have already launched infrastructural projects for the connection of energy system lines within and outside of the country.
The Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), which initiated holding the Government Hour, are worried about the situation in Georgia's mountainous regions where farmers face obstacles for providing firewood for winter. But as the minister explained each region had been provided with detailed information about the process from September, 2011.
The main questions for the Minister of Healthcare Andria Urushadze referred to the new pension package recently introduced by the officials. MPs wondered whether the 15-GEL insurance package would increase the accessibility of the healthcare system and provide pensioners with all the necessary medical services. The chairman of the CDM Giorgi Targamadze worried about the lack of a systematic approach towards the issues stressing that the government had let an opportunity for improving the healthcare system slip a long time ago. “Most of Georgian society is neither insured, nor can it afford the medical services nowadays," Targamadze said stressing that the healthcare system has been damaged all around the country. The ruling United National Movement (UNM) members feel the opposite as they found the ongoing medical reforms quite interesting.
Having introduced MPs to photo material about the successful implementation of hospital building processes throughout the country, Minister Urushadze claimed that part of the process had been absolutely finished. “The construction activities will end by December and the personnel will move to new hospitals,” Urushadze stated. All the clinics and hospitals would be equipped with modern ambulance services available for the public, according to the minister. The quality of service and medicines, together with the protection of patients’ rights would be the main challenges of the medical sector in Georgia in the framework of the governmental strategy.
MP Guram Chakhvadze from the National Democratic Movement approved of the building of new hospitals but stressed the economic problems people are facing nowadays. “It’s a fact that the majority of insured people pay 70% of insurance from their pockets,” Chakhvadze said stressing the necessity for making the healthcare system available to the public. Majority MP Petre Tsiskarishvili found it natural that each reform might have some negative affects for particular groups of people, thus he wondered what results each sector would achieve at the end of the reforms.
As Gia Khuroshvili, Governmental Secretary in Parliament stated the Government Hour enabled lawmakers to better familiarize themselves with the situation within the healthcare system. The hospitals published on the walls of parliament are, according to the secretary, accessible to society, while the insurance companies should offer a variety of services to their potential clients in the framework of the new pension package that envisages increasing pensions to 125 lari plus a 15 lari-insurance for pensioners.