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The first 100 days

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, February 6
The Prime Minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, summarized his government's first 100 days in office at a meeting with journalists on February 5. According to him, the government managed to do more within the period than it had planned.

Speaking about his party's achievements, Ivanishvili emphasized that electro energy tariffs were reduced by 21-27%, fuel prices by 10% and medical products have already decreased by 30-70%. Turnover of small and medium businesses in 27 days is 320 million GEL more than in was in January 2012. New investments were attracted and GEL 250 million will be invested for metallurgy development. $1billion USD investment will be carried out by an Azeri company on the Black Sea Coast for an enterprise that will recycle oil products. The PM also underscored that certain changes were introduced in the legislation that significantly improved the business environment; fines were reduced and the terms for paying fines increased to 3 years. The country's healthcare budget was doubled. Special programs were created for the development of agriculture. Special agricultural credits will be given to farmers for spring agricultural activities. Small and medium sized businesses will be afforded low credit rates. Concerning Georgia's education system, Ivanishvili stated that teachers' salaries will be increased by GEL 70-80 a month, studies within 13 faculties of the state universities have already been declared as free and from the second semester 9,000 students of 190 schools will be ensured with transport.

Ivanishvili emphasized that new investment fund is being created in the country with a capacity of $2 billion USD.

"The fund will have three main characteristics: it will have the function of holding, gathering and carrying out state actives and strategic projects; it will have the function of international diversification and the third function will be that the fund will assist in youth innovation projects," Ivanishvili said, adding that the fund will be ruled by independent investment council.

Regarding foreign policy, Ivanishvili underscored that "the US will remain the biggest strategic partner of Georgia," and especially thanked US Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland for his positive role in the relations of the two countries. The Prime Minister also stated that the restoration of good relations with Russia and the reintegration of Georgia's break-away territories are possible. Regarding trade relations, the PM stated that the Russian market is important for Georgia.

Concerning domestic issues, Ivanishvili stated that the leaders of the National Movement are in a panic and will have to answer questions concerning their past actions.

“Those illogical, false and slandering statements made by them will be negative for them and for the country's future,” Ivanishvili said.

"The UNM will cause no unrest in the country, they lack means for this. The constitutional changes and the voting process offer a chance for the various members of the UNM to show whether they are with the people or support the dictatorship," Ivanishvili stated.

The PM also excluded any confrontation inside the coalition.

"I think the current Education Minister, Giorgi Margvelashvili, will take the position of vice-premier. However, the issue will be discussed by the coalition," Ivanishvili said. The PM did not name the presidential candidate and stated that the issue will be discussed within the coalition. However, he underscored that Irakli Alasania does not meet his standard for the post

Ivanishvili also appealed Georgian society to ignore the provocative actions of the UNM.

The minority also assessed the first 100 days.

"There is unprecedented pressure on the minority members, their activists and supporters. There is an increase in the number of criminals and a disastrous situation concerning economy; the only thing that is really cheaper now is drugs," the General Secretary of the UNM Vano Merabishvili said.

"Ivanishvili's speeches are full of demagogy. He is always irritated by the questions that are uncomfortable for him. He does not fulfil his promises and his statements are dangerous for the country," UNM MP, Akaki Minashvili said.

Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre employee Kakha Kakhishvili told The Messenger that one of the greatest achievements of the new government is that people are no longer afraid and stressed by the government and there is feeling of freedom in public.

“There are positive steps concerning economy, media space, agriculture,” Kakhishvili stated, adding that problems remain regarding the restoration of justice and the court system and that coalition is not as unified as it should be.

“At the same time, coalition should not cut contacts with people and the ministers should allocate time to meet with citizens and talk with them,” Kakhishvili stated.