On 2 April 2014, during his nationwide tour, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, held a meeting with the local population in Samegrelo and discussed the achievements of his government. According to Gharibashvili’s statement, agricultural development is one of the top priorities of the current government. He also admitted that as a part of the Rural Support Programme a total of 1,186 projects were implemented in Samegrelo in 2013.

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took interest in the aforementioned statement and investigated the accuracy of the facts.

The Rural Support Programme (p. 5) has been in progress since 2009 based upon the respective resolution of the Government of Georgia issued upon an annual basis and aims at satisfying the needs of rural populations. The resolution of the government defines the general guidelines that are considered by the local self-governmental agencies while implementing the state Rural Support Programme. The programme objectives are as follows:

  • Directing the programme funds for the socio-economic needs of the first range (reconstruction-rehabilitation of local infrastructural objects, implementation of the renovation projects, etc.)
  • Supporting the engagement of the local population in self-government activities
  • Improving the relationships among the local population and self-governing units
  • Improving the level of democracy of the local self-government and the effective execution of the governors’ authorities

The state budget was the main source of funding for the programme. Therefore, the central government directed all the necessary funds for the realisation of the programme activities at the local level. The projects encompassed within the programme’s framework could allocate additional funds from international and donor organisations or local self-governmental agencies. This means that the local self-government can share the costs of the programme when necessary and which is particularly important when the funds allocated from the central budget are insufficient for the implementation of certain projects of local importance.

Based upon Resolution No. 25 of 2013 of the Government of Georgia, funding for the Rural Support Programme was increased by GEL 10 million. The total funding of the programme comprised GEL 50 million although the rule for assigning the funding remained unchanged:

a)      GEL 2,000 – for a village of no more than 50 inhabitants

b)      GEL  4,000 – for a village of 51-200 inhabitants

c)       GEL 5,000 – for a village of 201-400 inhabitants

d)      GEL 8,000 – for a village of 401-1,000 inhabitants

e)      GEL 12,000 – for a village of more than 1,000 inhabitants

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also inquired about the external comments and evaluations concerning the aforementioned programme. The Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) prepared an economic analysis of the state Rural Support Programme and presented the report on the monitoring of five selected regions. According to the abovementioned analysis (p. 12) the current government partially modified its policy of fund allocation and monitoring by making it much more detailed and comprehensive. While preparing the resolution in 2013 the government considered the recommendations and comments of the non-governmental sector, including that of the Economic Policy Research Centre. One of the comments concerned a low level of involvement of the local population within the implementation process of the programme. According to the abovementioned research, the local population was minimally engaged (up to 35%) with the Rural Support Programme; the level of their awareness was also quite low. The participation of the local population in decision-making processes was up to 21% on average.

As for the implementation of the Rural Support Programme itself, according to the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, by 15 January 2014, about 98% of the programme was completed. This means that the programme’s funds were in fact distributed among local self-governing units. Of note is the fact that by 30 October 2013, 28% of the planned projects within the programme had not been completed while 9% of the projects had not even started. Therefore, according to the EPRC report, about one-third of the projects were accomplished during the November-December 2013 period.

The 2013 Rural Support Programme report is available on the website of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia. Based upon the information contained in the report, projects were implemented in 60 municipalities of Georgia in 2013, including seven municipalities of Samegrelo, as a part of the Rural Support Programme activities. A total of 1,071 projects were implemented in the Abasha, Zugdidi, Martvili, Senaki, Chkhorotsku, Tsalenjikha and Khobi municipalities and comprised a total of GEL 6,590,494. The abovementioned projects mainly concerned the rehabilitation of roads and the development of infrastructure in the aforesaid seven municipalities.

Conclusion

Within the framework of the Rural Support Programme a total of 1,071 projects were implemented in seven municipalities of Samegrelo in 2013. This figure does not actually coincide with the number mentioned by the Prime Minister in his statement (1,186). According to the report of the Economic Policy Research Centre, the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia made some positive steps for an overall improvement of the programme.

FactCheck concludes that Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement:  “As a part of the Rural Support Programme we implemented 1,186 [infrastructural] projects in Samegrelo,” is MOSTLY TRUE.

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