Government’s Three Years Report

Former Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili considered the absence of fear among citizens, the settled prison system, freedom of the media and courts and the European Commission’s positive report on Georgia’s visa liberalization as the most important achievements of the Government in the past three years. On December 23, Garibashvili resigned from office but a few days prior to doing so, presented the three years report of the Government’s activities – covering the period from the victory of the Georgian Dream Party in the elections to present.

“When we started leading the country three years ago, we aimed to make Georgia a strong, developed and united country which would become part of the global community. And I am pleased that Europe has recognized our achievements and given the highest reward in the opening of the border for our citizens,” Garibashvili stated three days after the publication of a positive report from the European Commission.

The Government the past three years has focused on people, the former PM noted, dedicating particular care to their comfortable living conditions, freedom, and rights, creating a peaceful environment, favoring development and ensuring protection. For this reason the government created a General Health Care System; as well as increased healthcare funding for mothers and children, which reduced mortality amongst this group. Each municipality is now able to boast clinics, and salaries for rural medical staff have increased.

Separately, Garibashvili highlighted the Hepatitis C elimination program, which has made Georgia one of the first countries in the world to defeat the disease. The first phase began in April 2015, and already 1720 patients have recovered- tentatively, 90% of the patients will be able to overcome the disease in the next stage. According to preliminary calculations, the program will save more than 200 thousand people’s lives.

“We have made medicine affordable for everyone. It is no longer a business – it is for the public good,” Garibashvili declared.

Large investments have been made in the education sector – research funding saw an 82% increase, scientists’ salaries were more than doubled, and the best research projects were financed with 60 million Lari. Teachers’ salaries increased by 65%, and in 2016 this will rise to 70-80%. “We understand that this is not enough, but the government will continue to work hard to give a decent evaluation to the work of the people entrusted with the education and development of our children,” said the former PM of Georgia.

Today, half a million students use free student books and 1150 schools have free transport services. According to a study by the World Bank, this program reduced family expenses on education to 60%.

The third priority for the Government, along with healthcare and education, is social support, Garibashvili stated. Within three years, general pensions increased by 80 Lari. The pension will reach 180 Lari in July 2016 and 216 Lari in September. The pensions of people with disabilities have increased by 28-45%. The Government pays particular attention to refugees from Abkhazia and South Ossetia: 15 thousand refugee families were provided with housing in the last three years.

“For the first time in 22 years, 1061 refugee families will be provided with apartments in new buildings, and 630 families will be accommodated in the Olympic Village,” Garibashvili stated. “We are also developing territories near the occupied zone; in particular there is a multidisciplinary hospital and shopping center in the Ruhi village, Zugdidi district.”

The Mountains Law was created to support the population living in the Georgian mountains, which according to the former PM are Georgia’s treasure and the place which has by tradition protected and preserved the Georgian national identity and tradition. . The Government will pay 100 Lari monthly for one year for the first and second child born in a mountain region and 200 Lari monthly for two years for the third and following children.

“The state has always relied to an extent on the wealth of village products,” Garibashvili noted, highlighting the importance of Georgian honey, nuts and wine. The harvests in the Kakheti and Racha-Lachkhumi regions earned 400 million Lari over the past three years, an unprecedented result in the last 25 years. Georgian wine was represented in more than 100 international exhibitions, and sales have increased in both China and Europe.

The ‘Produce in Georgia’ State Program also gave a significant boost to Small and Medium Businesses, with an expected investment of 345 million Lari. It already financed 139 new enterprises and a further 665 enterprises have been expanded and strengthened. Garibashvili noted that, following the signature of the Association Agreement with the EU, a new great market has opened for Georgian companies and exporters.

The Georgian railway received its first cargo train from China, with a final destination in Turkey, on December 2015. The former PM officially stated that Georgia had become a part of the New Silk Road. He also recalled the success of the Silk Road Forum in Tbilisi and the benefits reaped from free trade with China, Turkey, the EU and CIS countries.

The great force of the Georgian economy, however, is the energy sector, especially with the construction of new Hydro Power Plants (HPPs). Recently, 10 HPPs came into operation and 104 projects are currently at various stages of implementation. “First of all, I want to stress that we care about our nature and these HPPs do not harm the environment,” said Garibashvili. “We need more energy to be independent and to keep up with the developing world. That is why we need more HPPs, but HPPs which are built wisely.”

Over the last three years, income from tourism amounted to more than 600 million USD, making it one of the main drivers of the Georgian economy. Since 2012, 17 million tourists visited Georgia, as compared to just 12 million between 2005 and 2012. 120 types of hotel have been built and ski resorts have been developed, some being equipped with snow machines that extend the winter season by five months.

The Government carried out major infrastructure projects like the construction and rehabilitation of roads, bridges, enterprises, schools and residential buildings. Among them were cultural monuments such as Muco, Chachashi, the Svan towers, Vardzia, Gelati, Anchiskhati and a number of Georgian monuments abroad such as the Ishkhan monastery in Turkey.

Georgia made a name for itself in sport, too, especially in 2015. Garibashvili noted the success of Georgian rugby players, wrestlers, chess players and Paralympic athletes in particular. Georgia was also chosen to host the European Youth Olympic Festival, UEFA Super Cup and other international competitions.

The former Prime Minister in his report noted the changes in the structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Court, Prosecutor’s Office and the new rules governing elections for local self-government. He noted that there are no violations of prisoners’ rights, as there were prior to 2012. The Government introduced and created a number of laws aiming to ensure the protection of human rights: the Human Rights Strategy, the new Labor Code, the Code of Local Government and the Office of the Personal Data Protection Inspector of Georgia.

Against a complex and challenging global background, Georgia managed to adopt a rational approach to foreign policy. In addition to the above-mentioned visa liberalization with the EU, the country has made considerable progress with its strategic partners on NATO integration issues and strengthened political and economic relations with the US. The Government actively cooperates with Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Moldova. The former Prime Minister also welcomed the decision of the Russian authorities on visa facilitation for Georgian citizens.

In conclusion, former PM Garibashvili said that this report is the result of hard work. “We know that our people do not like an empty government which is content with advertising on television – we will not do so. Our main objective is to work for the future generations,” he concluded.

Eka Karsaulidze

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