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New draft law for IDPs

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, November 28
Parliament began discussion of a new bill on the status of internally displaced people (IDPs) on November 26th. Through the bill, the monthly allowance for IDPs will be doubled to 45 lari. Various restrictions and changes will be introduced if the law is confirmed.

According to the proposed law, those IDPs who have at least 1,250 lari in income per month will no longer be eligible for a monthly allowance. The amount of IDP’s who earned 1,250 lari or more per month currently numbers 6,892, according to the MRA and Finance Ministry.

Davit Darakhvelidze, the Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia, stressed that if a person with IDP status loses their job, the monthly allowance will be restored.

IDPs who live in government owned buildings receive a monthly allowance of 22 lari. Those who live in private accommodation receive 28 lari. Nearly 80% of IDPs live in private accommodation. Together with the allowance, the government partially covers utility fees for those IDPs who live in government owned buildings but not for those living in private accommodation.

Darakhvelidze states that the approach was “unfair” and the ministry will no longer cover utility fees.

The Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons estimates that the increase of monthly allowances to 45 lari will require about 109 million lari next year, an increase in the budget of 22 million lari. The current number of IDPs is approximately 30,000 people.

According to the bill, the monthly allowance will be suspended if an IDP leaves the country for more than two months.

Currently, newborn children who have at least one IDP parent automatically acquire IDP status and become eligible for a monthly allowance. According to the bill, newborn children who have at least one IDP parent will be classified as IDPs but are not eligible for the monthly allowance.

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) stated that they were actively involved in making the draft bill but said some issues are still unresolved. The organization appealed to Parliament to further elucidate several issues in the bill.

One issue that GYLA said is unresolved is the status of juvenile IDP’s. According to the organization, only 20% of juveniles have two parents who are IDP’s. The organization has doubts whether restricting allowances to adults is actually motivated by lack of funds and worries that a discriminative situation might occur. GYLA also questions the cessation of monthly allowances if an IDP income exceeds 1,250 lari per month.

“Of course, the ministry has a right to set some restrictions. However, it should explain why it chose 1,250 and whether this refers to a monthly salary or a one-time cash inflow.” a GYLA statement reads.

The bill, if approved by the Parliament, will go into force on March 1, 2014.