Prime Minister’s Statements at Today’s Cabinet Meeting
As you know, we have submitted to the Parliament the 2021 budget, a crucially important document, which will guide us in 2021 and define the country's state of affairs in a year's time, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia stated at today's Cabinet meeting.
According to him, the budget is balanced, with its main goals being to fight COVID, support the population and businesses, and economic recovery measures.
"The budget is balanced, and the key goal is to fight the pandemic, secure targeted social assistance for the population, support businesses, and prepare the economy for post-crisis recovery, of course. We developed this budget together with the International Monetary Fund, and this balanced budget cover all basic components necessary to fight against the pandemic and recession. We have announced the 4th wave of targeted social assistance for citizens and businesses, with a volume of 1 billion 420 million GEL, of which 280 million is set aside for 2020 and 1 billion 140 million for 2021. These sums will be channeled, above all else, toward healthcare, with an additional 450 million GEL allocated under the next year's budget and main expenses being COVID treatment, testing, preparation for, procurement of, and implementation of vaccination, and virus spread prevention. For citizens' targeted assistance, the next year's budget allocates 540 million GEL, and 430 million GEL for supporting businesses," the Prime Minister said.
Starting today, the Revenue Service accepts applications, Giorgi Gakharia added, and citizens and companies (unregistered self-employed) who have temporarily lost sources of income should fill up the application in a timely manner in order to enjoy assistance before New Year.
"Today, we start accepting applications for targeted social assistance to citizens who, as a result of the last 2-month restrictions, have temporarily lost their jobs. We must do everything, and the Finance Ministry has been instructed, to issue this assistance before New Year. Citizens must apply to relevant agencies in a timely manner to receive assistance. The next year's budget also increases pensions, an annual raise enshrined in legislation, so our pensioners will not have to wait from election to election to receive increased pensions. Significant amounts are also allocated for constructing residences for refugees, 103 million GEL. I emphasize that, through the crisis, financing for infrastructural projects is increasing, and so is the budget of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, in excess of 4 billion GEL. Financing is also increasing for the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Economy, and every other Ministry relevant to the country's rapid post-crisis economic recovery. The budget is the country's main financial document, which will be reviewed by the Parliament, and it is of vital importance for this review to engage every political force that has received trust from Georgian citizens, and is therefore mandated to take part in debates on a document of systemic importance to the country. We hope that it will happen so in the nearest future, before New Year, so that we can have interesting, albeit heated, discussions on this budget," the Prime Minister said.
The Head of Government also discussed the schedule of intensive testing that will reach 20,000 tests a day in the nearest future.
"We announced a specific plan of precision-targeted restrictions valid for two months, which should stabilize the community transfer rate. At the same time, we are announcing a new schedule of intensive testing, which was launched yesterday and will reach 20 000 tests a day in the nearest future.
It is a parallel process, which should facilitate a quick detection of viral spread. Citizens of Georgia will have an opportunity to get tested at the expense of the State as 20 000 tests will be administered a day. It is on top of what the private sector will do. These steps have a specific goal to make this 2-month-long plan of restrictions most effective, leading to a greater efficiency of detection and ultimate isolation or medical care of the affected individuals, so that we all continue living a full life from early February, upon the completion of these two months" noted Giorgi Gakharia.
The Prime Minister, in discussing COVID-19, emphasized that a special interagency group has been put together to oversee planning and procurement for the vaccination process.
"You may well be aware that Georgia is a member state of the COVAX platform and have already made payments for the timely supply of vials. The Inter-Agency Commission should ensure the timely supply of vaccines and execution of preparatory technical works, which are essential for the launch of timely and effective immunization" noted the Head of Government.
According to him, everyone must comply with the law and imposed restrictions to ensure the fast curbing of community transfer.
"Along with everything else, we should take into account that this 2-month-long plan of restrictions, intensified testing and all the rest are aimed at curbing the community transfer rate most efficiently within 2 months. Of course, we should understand that it is impossible to have a critical reduction in the viral spread within 2 months, though quick curbing of the community transfer rate was and remains important for us. That is why we should all comply with the law and imposed restrictions to safeguard each other and our elderly. Of course, freedom of expression will not be restricted by anyone and ever. Nevertheless, requirements set nowadays by the law, epidemiologists and medical doctors are not that difficult to comply with. We may keep our freedom of expression and thereby comply with basic rules. It is not hard to wear the facemasks and adhere to the rules. Of course, it applies to everyone and I wish to request the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to tightly enforce the restrictions imposed by the Government of Georgia, epidemiologists and medical doctors that do not hamper the freedom of expression at all. This is the prime requirement for our citizens and we should primarily safeguard their health and hamper the community transfer rate," the Prime Minister stated.
Giorgi Gakharia also commented on the recent NATO Foreign Ministerial and thanked and congratulated Georgia's Foreign Minister for his successful participation. The ministerial has voiced messages of paramount importance to Georgia, Gakharia added.
"Most importantly, NATO remains committed to continuing its open-door policy, a matter of principal importance to our country. I would like to thank the Foreign Ministers of our friend countries for supporting Georgia's territorial integrity, further enhancing the country's integration into the North-Atlantic Alliance, and stepping up Georgia's defense capabilities through practical steps and plans. This is very important to us, because it reaffirms that our partner and friend countries have a correct understanding of Georgia's Euro-Atlantic integration, and we enjoy their full support," the Head of Government said.