On 1 October 2014, a hearing on Parliamentary Committee reports was held at a plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia. After the hearing on the Committee on European Integration’s report, Parliamentary Majority MP, Giorgi Gachechiladze, delivered a speech. He assessed the work done by the committee and its contribution to the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union positively, especially on the background of the “severe social inheritance” left by the United National Movement’s government. To illustrate what he meant by severe social inheritance, the MP presented the data of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): “There is a 2012 UNDP assessment of Georgia. I will just tell you the numbers: families with a bank debt or another kind of debt – 22% which makes for a total of 210,000 such families, families without a house or a flat – 9% or 85,000 such families, families with a place to live but with walls, roofs or floors in bad conditions – 42% or 400,000 such families; those with a bad sanitation and water supply – 54% or 500,000 such families, families with at least one member suffering from a chronic disease – 58% or 543,000 families and those families without health insurance for all members – 82% or 772,000 families,” said Mr Gachechiladze.

FactCheck

took interest in this statement and verified its accuracy.

The 2012 UNDP assessment of Georgia can be found in the Economic and Social Vulnerability in Georgia study.

This study, based upon the survey method of research, gives a comprehensive image of the different aspects of Georgia’s socially and economically vulnerable population. Four different categories of families were selected for the survey:  standard, refugees, families with special needs and those living in mountainous regions making for a total of 4,301 families.

The study points out that Georgia’s average yearly economic growth equalled 6.8% from 2004 to 2008. This growth was temporarily halted only in 2008 when the country was hit by the war with Russia and the world economic crisis at the same time. After this double-shock the country recovered relatively quickly and economic growth rates were almost back to the pre-crisis level in 2010 and 2011. However, a significant part of the Georgian population still lives in poverty.

According to the study, the prosperity of a family includes social and economic prosperities and is gradually formed according to its changing demographic and socio-economic conditions. The prosperity of a family is determined by its ability to obtain basic goods and services and fully participate in the social, economic and civil life of the country. Economic vulnerability is defined as the risk of impoverishment or the inability to maintain a certain standard of living in the case of a shock. The study says that the family’s availability of resources greatly determines its ability to deal with shocks and, therefore, its economic and social vulnerability levels as well. The resources available to a family include: financial, physical, human and social resources.

The main factors determining a family’s vulnerability to financial resources are the size and structure of the family, the type of its income and its economic conditions. According to the study, 36% of Georgian people live in families which have a consumption rate below the average minimum level; that is, a total of 61% are unable to make savings at the end of the month, 22% have a bank or other type of debt whilst another 22% have no stable wage or pension. Physical resources include land, livestock and house(s). An average of 40% of the Georgian population have no land, 49% have no livestock and 9% have no house. Among those who do have houses, 42% live in conditions of a bad physical infrastructure (walls, roofs or floors in poor conditions) and 54% have poor levels of sanitation and water supply. Human resources include education, employment and healthcare. A total of 58% of Georgian families have at least one member with a chronic disease and 52% have no officially employed member of the family. The highest level of education is lower than secondary technical education in 31% of the families. Social resources include the social status of friends and relatives, the availability of the media, the level of interaction with other people and the ability to interact with other members of the community. According to the study, 20% of Georgian people have no public connections and 23% do not use the television, newspapers or internet as sources of information. A total of 15% of the population do not participate in any unions at a community level. The availability of resources includes markets and public services. The data of Georgian families by availability of resources is as follows: none of the members of the family has a bank account – 17%, the family is without a car – 66%, those finding it difficult to find a job – 55% and those families without health insurance for all members – 82%.

The data given in this study would give a much more accurate image if we could compare the figures to those of the previous years or to the data of countries with similar levels of development. In order to determine whether or not this kind of study has been conducted in any other country, we addressed the Georgian branch of the UNDP. According to the Head of the Press Centre, Sopo Tchitchinadze, no such studies have been conducted in any other country or in any other year; however, the closest to this study (by its methodology and content) is the human development study which determines the Human Development Indices (HDI) of countries. Hence, comparing the results of these studies will enable the receipt of additional information.

The main factors of the United Nations Human Development Study include: effectiveness (effective use of resources and the improvement of their availability), sustainability (ecological, economic and social) and human safety (protection from chronic dangers such as starvation and unemployment). The Human Development Index (HDI) is calculated based upon international data about healthcare, education, poverty and income. We looked into the 2013 Human Development Study which is based upon the data of 2012. The 2013 Human Development Report includes 187 countries. According to this Report, the Human Development Index of Georgia was 0.745 in 2012, holding the 72nd position among 187 countries. The HDI of Georgia grew from 0.713 to 0.745 from 2005 to 2012. Georgia occupied the 75th

position among 187 countries in 2011.

The countries are divided into four categories according to their Human Development Index:  very high human development, high human development, medium human development and low human development. Georgia falls into the category of the countries with a high human development. From the same category Belarus holds the 50th position (0.793), Russia – 55th (0.788), Serbia – 64th (0.769), Kazakhstan – 69th (0.754), Ukraine – 78th (0.740), Azerbaijan – 82nd (0.734), Armenia – 87th (0.729) and Turkey occupies the 90th

position (0.722).

According to the 2014 Human Development Study, Georgia holds the 79th position among 187 countries by its Human Development Index (0.744). Hence, Georgia’s HDI has slightly worsened as compared to the previous year, coming down to 0.744 (0.745 in 2013) and, as a result, Georgia moved from the 72nd to the 79th

position.

Conclusion

The 2012 United Nations Development Programme study, Economic and Social Vulnerability in Georgia, reflects the conditions of Georgian families. A total of 4,301 families participated in the study. It determines the level of economic and social vulnerability of Georgian families.

When facing a crisis, the sustainability of a family relies upon the available resources and the ability to effectively use them. These resources include financial, physical, human and social resources. A family is better able to defend itself in times of crisis when there is a higher level of resources available. According to the study, 54% of the Georgian population is vulnerable and finds it hard to cope with crises. A total of 42% of the population is vulnerable to resource ownership whilst 36% is vulnerable to the availability of resources.

Thus, the part of Mr Gachechiladze’s statement where he talks about the UNDP study data is correct; however, the MP also says that these data are a “severe social inheritance” left by the United National Movement’s government. In this context, FactCheck

took interest and attempted to find out about the situation in recent years – whether or not the data were improving in recent decades. We used the Human Development Index data for comparison as they are similar to the aforementioned study. As it turned out, the situation was not very favourable in the past decade; however, the data kept improving.

As for the past several years, according to the data of 2012 (2013 Report), Georgia has a slightly better Human Development Index than in 2013 (2014 Report) which means that the situation of Georgia was better in 2012 than in 2013, indicating that growth has not been recorded since the government changed. Furthermore, the positions of Georgia have slightly worsened as compared to those of the other countries.

Based upon the aforementioned factors, FactCheck concludes that Giorgi Gachechiladze’s statement is HALF TRUE.

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