State take care for mountainous regions
By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, April 11Georgian online media outlets have reported that the last resident of Georgia’s mountainous village of Ardoti in the Khevsureti mountainous region will be forced very soon to leave his home village due to very poor living conditions and unemployment.
Niko Ardoteli serves as a border guard there, but this year he turns 55 and will have to quit his job due to his age.
Ardoteli was the last resident living in the village, and has tried his best to live there for a number of years, with his wife and three children living in the country's lowlands.
Speaking to local media, Ardoteli says he had to send his family to the lowlands in the eastern part of the country, due to the very poor economic conditions and lack of educational opportunities for his children.
Figures from 2002 revealed that 164 villages in Georgia were deserted, and 152 villages were barely inhabited, with 10 families or less.
Responding to this, the current state authorities have tried to address the situation.
From January last year, a Mountain Law came into effect, through which each family living in the country’s mountain regions will receive 100 GEL of monthly financial aid from the state for two years following the birth of every newborn child. This financial aid will increase to 200 GEL for every third, fourth and subsequent child.
Also, mountain residents will enjoy a non-taxable income if their salary is 6,000 GEL or lower.
Individuals and legal entities in mountain regions will be exempted from profit tax for 10 years.
Those who permanently live in a mountain region will be exempt from property tax for any land they own.
State-funded schools and other educational institutions in mountainous regions will enjoy increased vouchers.
In the situation wherein the country faces sharp economic problems, it is extremely hard to create acceptable conditions in the mountain regions, which are isolated in the winter period from the main land.
Steps to preserve the population in such areas should have started long before, however, governments didn't pay enough attention.
All the governments in Georgia have complained about the Russia’s creeping occupation, which is a serious problem of course.
However, at the same time they took no genuine steps to support the mountain villages.
The mountainous villages that have been emptied at the Russia-Georgia border may very easily become a future target for occupants and any other potential aggressor.
The government must somehow suspend the process, popularise tourism and create relevant infrastructure to keep people in mountainous regions and trigger interest in the young generation for them to return to their roots.
The government should pay additional attention to this problem and elaborate the situation which will attract ordinary Georgians to settle there.