Economic Development Plan Debated in Parliament
By Salome Modebadze
Monday, November 28
Prime Minister Nika Gilauri introduced the renewed 10-Point Strategic Development Plan to parliament members on Friday. As the PM explained to lawmakers, the main purpose of plan is to create new jobs in the country. Stressing that the first significant steps have been made for reducing the level of unemployment, Gilauri emphasized the need for new investments for private sector development. Realizing that most Georgian citizens are either unemployed or have an inadequate salary, the PM promised that the new strategy for 2011-2015 would eradicate all problems people are facing nowadays.
Talking of the main points of the strategic document, Gilauri pointed to the aspiration to triple GDP per capita after the Rose Revolution and spoke of Georgia as one of the world’s healthiest countries in terms of macroeconomic parameters. Emphasizing importance of healthcare and educational reforms, Gilauri announced the opening of 150 modern clinics and hospitals in Georgia and improvements to the insurance sector which will provide 2.5 million citizens (including pensioners and small children) with health insurance.
As the PM stated, international investors trust Georgia more than other eastern European countries. Emphasizing the importance of import substitution, Gilauri welcomed the Free Trade Agreement with the European Union which would enable exports of Georgian agricultural products to the European markets in the near future. Tourism and infrastructure are also the sectors which would encourage economic development and create additional jobs all around the country. The ruling United National Movement (UNM), according to Gilauri, has made preconditions for eradicating unemployment, but the 10-Point Strategic Development Plan would finally end this problem.
Opposition MPs unanimously disapproved government strategy during the debates. Calling it a “virtual plan” Paata Davitaia vice speaker of Parliament recollected similar “unfulfilled plans” the government used to offer in the past. Worrying that this particular document is just a modified version of older programs Davitaia suggested that the government was unmotivated in terms of the plan's practical implementation.
Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), worried about the non-existence of the economy in Georgia. Accusing the UNM of neglecting small and medium business development, Targamadze emphasized the problems in the agricultural sector and restrictions on Georgia’s transit infrastructure and resources. “The natural and economic resources are being explored in such a way that no Georgian people but the government benefits from the increased budget,” Targamadze stated.
Ruling party MPs had different approaches towards the issue. “Parliamentary debates are important elements of democracy, as an opportunity to express various positions,” Parliamentary Chairman Davit Bakradze said stressing the necessity of informing people of plans for achieving progress in the country. As first vice speaker Mikheil Machavariani stated, the Georgian government has taken the historical mission of building modern Georgian statehood. Stressing that the government knows how to solve people’s problems Machavariani emphasized how loyal UNM has been to people who trusted in them. Talking of iniquity in the economic plan, MP Nugzar Tsiklauri nevertheless welcomed how economic development had increased international organizations’ trust towards Georgia. Hoping to have heard alternative suggestions from oppositional MPs, Prime Minister Gilauri said that instead he had heard only lies during the debates.