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On 12 July 2016, on air on Rustavi 2, the member of the Free Democrats Party, Davit Onoprishvili, stated: "The average economic growth rate was about 4% during the last four years of the United National Movement’s office. The figures were the same during the Georgian Dream coalition’s office as well."

FactCheck

verified the accuracy of Mr Onoprishvili’s statement.

In order to see the economic growth rates during the last four years of the United National Movement’s office, we need to look at the data for GDP growth from 2009 to 2012. The Georgian Dream coalition, on the other hand, has not yet finished four years of its office and the National Statistics Office of Georgia has only published the corrected data for the first quarter of 2016. The growth rate of Georgia’s GDP from 2009 to 2015 looked like this:

Table 1: 

Growth of Gross Domestic Product in Georgia from 2009 to 2015

Year GDP Growth
2009 -3.7
2010 6.2
2011 7.2
2012 6.4
2013 3.4
2014 4.6
2015 2.8
Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

Georgia’s economy was growing by an annual average of 4% from 2009 to 2012. In the period of these four years, 2009 should be looked at separately as this year showed an economic recession of 3.7% instead of any growth. This was due to the world economic crisis and the Russia-Georgia war of 2008. According to the data of the World Bank, the gross domestic products of Georgia’s neighbouring countries decreased by an average of 4.3% in 2009, Armenia (14%) and Russia (7.8%) seeing the sharpest drops in the region. The world economic crisis also caused GDPs to decrease in countries like the USA (2.8%), Germany (5.6%), France (2.9%), the UK (4.2%) and many others. Hence, it is not appropriate to take 2009’s data into account when discussing the economic growth rate achieved by the previous government. Georgia’s average economic growth rate from 2010 to 2012 was 6.6% which is 3% more than the same indicator under the Georgian Dream coalition’s government (3.6%).

Of further interest is that Davit Onoprishvili ignored the 2009 world economic crisis when making his statement even though just two years earlier, in 2013 when he was a member of the Georgian Dream coalition, he had explained 2009

’s low economic growth rate with the drop in the economic growth rates of other countries in the region.

It should also be pointed out that the Free Democrats were part of the Georgian Dream coalition in 2013 and 2014. Davit Onoprishvili himself is one of the authors of the economic component of the Georgian Dream’s 2012 coalition elections programme. Furthermore, he was the Chairman of the Budgetary and Finance Committee of the Parliament of Georgia in 2013 and 2014.

Conclusion

The National Statistics Office of Georgia has only published the corrected economic growth data for the first quarter of 2016 and so it is rather difficult to understand how Davit Onoprishvili manages to compare the economic growth data of the United National Movement’s government during the last four years of its office to that of the four-year economic growth data of the Georgian Dream coalition. In addition, he disregards the 2009 world economic crisis which is not appropriate because the GDP of all of the countries in the region as well as many developed countries in the world also decreased in 2009. In this case, it would be more justified to compare the records of the last three years of the United National Movement’s office to that of the first three years of the Georgian Dream coalition’s office as such a comparison would not cover the world economic crisis. In addition, we only have economic data for the first three years of the Georgian Dream coalition’s office.

The statement also shows that Davit Onoprishvili denies any responsibility for the events of 2013 and 2014 even though he was one of the authors of the economic component of the Georgian Dream coalition’s elections programme as well as the Chairman of the Budgetary and Finance Committee of the Parliament of Georgia during that time.

Hence, Davit Onoprishvili’s statement is a MANIPULATION OF NUMBERS.