Tbilisi City Council member from the United National Movement, Irakli Abesadze, on air on Maestro, stated: "You are implying that investments and job creation are related to the general plan whilst in the absence of a general plan, Tbilisi’s economy grew twice as fast as it does now, more jobs were created and the city’s development was more advanced."

The last general plan for Tbilisi’s development was approved in 1971 and was in force until 2001. No such document has been prepared since Georgia’s independence although certain steps in that direction were made in 2009 when the general plan for Tbilisi’s prospective development was approved. However, this was a plan for land use and can only be considered as a basis upon which a new general plan for Tbilisi’s development would be drafted. On 30 December 2014, a renewed general plan forland use in Tbilisi was approved.

According to Irakli Abesadze’s statement, the past years also were without a general plan but Tbilisi’s economic activity was much higher under the leadership of the city’s previous administration.

At the present moment, the National Statistics Office of Georgia has published the data about the division of GDP according to the country’s regions including 2014. Table 1 shows that in 2008-2012, Tbilisi’s economy increased by 4.6% on average whilst the economic growth rate in the post-crisis period, in 2010-2012, saw an average real growth of 8.6%. The average real growth in 2013-2014 was only 2.65% which is 1.74 times less than the average number of the five-year period and 3.25 times less than the average number of 2010-2012. If we consider the low economic growth rate throughout the country in 2015, we can assume that Tbilisi’s economic growth rate will be low as well.

Table 1: 

Tbilisi GDP in 2008-2014 (GEL million)

Year 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
GDP Nominal 7,914 7,274 8,473 9,914 11,194 11,301 12,147
GDP Real 8,406 7,896 8,473 9,058 10,119 10,294 10,662
Nominal Growth 12.90% -8.08% 16.47% 17.02% 12.91% 0.95% 7.49%
Real Growth 3.01% -6.07% 7.30% 6.91% 11.71% 1.73% 3.57%
Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

As illustrated by Table 2, the amount of employees in Tbilisi in 2013-2014 exceeds the number registered in the previous years and shows a trend of growth. The growth of employment has also increased. There were 315,300 individuals employed in 2013 which is 1.76% more than the same number registered in 2012. The growth continued in 2014 as the number of employed people reached 325,000 which is 3.08% more as compared to the previous year. In total, the number of employed people increased by 15,100 in 2013-2014. The number of employees changed only marginally in 2008-2010. The only exception is the year 2010 when the number of employees increased from 308,700 to 318,300. However, in 2011 the number of employees was cut back to 309,400.

Table 2:

 Labour Market Indicators in Tbilisi (2007-2014)

Thousand Persons (with the exception of %)  
Year Employed Individuals Change in Number of Employed Individuals Unemployed Individuals Change in Number of Unemployed Individuals Labour Force Unemployment Rate
2007 346.10 14.02% 134.60 2.66% 480.70 28.00%
2008 302.10 -12.71% 128.00 -4.88% 430.10 29.76%
2009 308.70 2.19% 129.70 1.33% 438.40 29.58%
2010 318.30 3.09% 137.00 5.62% 455.30 30.09%
2011 309.40 -2.80% 128.00 -6.56% 437.40 29.26%
2012 309.90 0.16% 127.30 -0.54% 437.20 29.12%
2013 315.30 1.76% 129.30 1.57% 444.70 29.08%
2014 325.00 3.08% 94.20 -27.18% 419.20 22.47%
Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

The unemployment rate has had a tendency of decrease in the last years but the alteration of the data is affected by changes in the labour force as well. For instance, in 2014 the number of unemployed individuals decreased by 35,100 and, respectively, the unemployment rate dropped by 6.6% whilst the actual number of employed people only increased by 9,700. At the same time, the labour force decreased by 25,500. Therefore, the sharp decline in the unemployment rate was largely stipulated by the exodus of unemployed individuals from the labour force. Hence, it is more appropriate to use the number of employed people to assess the process of job creation.

Conclusion                         The average real economic growth of 2008-2012 (4.6%) and the real economic growth of the post-crisis years of 2010-2012 (8.6%) are, respectively, 1.74 and 3.25 times higher than the average real economic growth of 2013-2014 (2.65%). In regard to job creation, the data aremore or less stable. However, as compared to the previous years, a growth in the number of employees was registered in 2013-2014. Of necessary note is that the existing statistical data contradicteconomic theory to some extent as there are almost no changes under high economic growth whilst the unemployment rate has a tendency toward decrease under slow economic growth. The same is the case throughout Georgia if we consider employment in the business sector and the numbers of economic growth (see the link). FactCheck concludes that Irakli Abesadze’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.