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Government announces series of new projects

By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, March 1
After President Mikheil Saakashvili's annual report to Parliament on Tuesday, government officials expanded on some of the policies their administration has planned for 2012.

Prime Minister Nika Gilauri welcomed the President’s decision to unilaterally abolish the visa regime with Russia. Speaking of the geopolitical importance of the decision at a government session on Wednesday, Gilauri said that Russian tourists and business people should familiarize themselves with the reforms in Georgia, as it is a post-Soviet country that has achieved much celebrated progress just in seven years.

State Minister for Reintegration, Eka Tkeshelashvili, called the President’s decision “a seriously constructive and well estimated step” aimed at making peace, not provocation. “This initiative doesn’t aim to influence the Russian government,” she said, explaining that the government simply wants to make Russian people see that the doors of democratic Georgia are open to everyone.

Another initiative announced by the government is the distribution of 1000 GEL vouchers for individuals who wish to study at professional colleges. The project, worth 7 million GEL, would give 7000 people the opportunity to improve their skills.

From March 20, vouchers will be distributed to socially unprotected families, while from April 5, they will be available to any citizen who takes an entrance test. These vouchers cannot be exchanged for real money, but their recipients will receive 1000 GEL in knowledge of a new profession.

Minister of Educational and Science, Dimitri Shashkin, spoke of the high probability that people will find a relevant job after finishing a course at a professional college. He also discussed the Ministry's summer jobs for students program, applications for which open March 20. Over 25 000 students will have the chance to earn a 500 GEL salary in July and August.

According to Andria Urushadze, Minister of Labour, Health, and Social Affairs, all healthcare services across the country should be available for everyone. “Our main goal is not [just] to improve health care, [build] European clinics, and ensure professional development, but to make all these services available to every family,” he said, praising a policy that will provide those parents with three or more children with financial support of GEL 1000.

The Prime Minister also noted that, although the Georgian government is seeing great progress in numerous directions, there is still much to be done in the country. He specifically mentioned that the "rules of the game" between hospitals and insurance companies need to be clarified.

Gilauri also summarized the results of different government projects and introduced the goals the government wants to accomplish this year.