In the pre-election period in 2012, the Georgian Dream coalition promised the population of Georgia that healthcare would be free. Numerous times during meetings and pre-election advertisements, it was said that healthcare expenses would be fully funded, including prescription medications.
The Universal Healthcare programme was enacted in 2013 and covered all citizens of Georgia who were not using any other insurance policies. This programme in part increased the availability of healthcare. However, it must be pointed out that it only provides full funding for cases of emergency or pre-planned hospital visits (consultation with a doctor and basic tests) whilst in other cases it provides only co-funding.Given the fact that about a half of the money spent on healthcare is for medications, the Universal Healthcare programme’s basic insurance policy does not cover medications prescribed by doctors. Only targeted beneficiary groups receive 50% co-funding within the confines of the set annual limits (GEL 50, GEL 100 or GEL 200). These groups used to have this type of co-funding during the previous government as well (see FactCheck’s article
about this issue). It should be noted that the prices of medications increased significantly in 2014 and 2015. Hence, the availability of medications is more of an issue for the population now than it was before.
At the first stage, Bidzina Ivanishvili – Georgia Dream takes the responsibility that all pensioners will receive pensions which will at least be equal to the minimum monthly allowance. This will be guaranteed by an appropriate law. (Pre-Election Programme, page 34)
Free Democrats party member, Davit Onoprishvili, who was a member of the Georgian Dream coalition at the time, also voiced a similar promise, saying: “The minimum monthly allowance in Georgia, by the Government of Georgia’s calculations, is GEL 160. We believe that this amount is understated. As soon as the Georgian Dream coalition assumes office, we will make pensions the amount of the actual minimum monthly allowance. According to the calculations of experts in the field, the actual monthly allowance is 30% more than currently stated. Taking other calculations into account as well, we believe that the amount varies from GEL 200 to GEL 220.”
Pensions varied from GEL 110 to GEL 125 in 2012. The amount of pensions reached GEL 125 for all pensioners in April 2013 whilst increasing to GEL 150 in September 2013. The pensions did not increase in 2014; however, they did rise by GEL 10 in September 2015 and equalled GEL 160. If we take the rate of inflation from 2013 to 2015 into account, it becomes clear that pensions did not actually increase in 2015 as the average pensioner was able to buy more goods with GEL 150 in 2013 than with GEL 160 in 2015. Pensions increased by GEL 20 from 1 July 2016, amounting to GEL 180 in total.
According to the data of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the minimum monthly allowance for an able-bodied male was GEL 156.6 in July 2016. Hence, as of today, pensions do exceed the minimum monthly allowance by GEL 23. However, it should also be noted that the methodology of calculating the allowance has not changed and the amounts stated by the members of the coalitions (GEL 200 and GEL 220) have not been proven.
We will overcome unemployment and poverty, creating conditions for the wealth and welfare for our skilled and hard-working citizens. (Pre-Election Programme, page 2)
Four years after this promise, unemployment and poverty are still among the top problems facing Georgia’s population. According to the National Democratic Institute (NDI)’s June 2016 study, poverty and unemployment are the top two national issues as perceived by the population. About 62% of those surveyed believe that the situation in terms of poverty worsened after the 2012 elections. In addition, 63% of the population regard themselves as unemployed.
According to the data of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, a total of 57,000 workplaces were created in Georgia in the period from 2013 to 2015. Officially, about 260,000 people are unemployed in Georgia. In addition, 57% (1,018,000) of those employed are self-employed (agriculture, retail trade and so on). According to the surveys, the majority of Georgia’s self-employed citizens regard themselves as unemployed and looking for a job.
According to the World Bank’s data, the number of people in extreme poverty showed a steady decrease from 2011 to 2014 with this trend likely to continue in the future as well. Despite the positive trend, we can say that the statistics of extreme poverty are still alarmingly high – about 32.3% of the population of Georgia (as of 2014) spends less than USD 2.5 every day.
According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia’s data, about 22.4% of the population consumed below 60% of the average consumption levels in 2012 whilst this percentage dropped to 20.1% in 2015. As for the data of registered poverty, about 501,445 people were below the line of poverty in 2012 whilst the latest data of 2016 indicate that their number has fallen to 477,840.
Statistics reflect that poverty has a trend of decrease in Georgia. However, the existing poverty level is still very high. The same can be said about unemployment. Poverty and unemployment are still among the top issues for a significant part of Georgia’s population.
Bidzina Ivanishvili: "I promise our internally displaced persons that as soon as the Georgian Dream coalition assumes office, we will start legally transferring them the places where they now live so that they can plan their lives and their futures in advance until they are able to return to their properties which have been temporarily lost for them."
A total of 264,630 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are registered in the IDP database as of today, making up 87,023 families. According to the March 2016 data, a total of 34,323 families have received housing whilst 52,647 families are still waiting.
On 2 February 2007, by Directive No. 47 of the Government of Georgia, a State Strategy for Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees was adopted. Internally displaced persons have been receiving housing since 2008. A total of 26,359 families received housing from 2009 to 1 October 2012 with 7,964 more families having received houses since October 2012.
As for the transferring of the legal ownership of the houses to the people living in them, about 15,739 IDP families received the status of legal owner before October 2012 with an additional 17,642 families having received this status since 2012. In addition, the Government of Georgia has already issued other directives legalising the ownership of an additional 2,613 families. The process of legalisation is in progress as of now.
Almost all of the families who were given houses as of 2012 have already received these houses in legal ownership. However, according to the data of 2012, only 34,000 of a total of 87,023 families were provided with housing. The remaining families are still waiting for their turn to receive houses.
The percentage of government spending on education with regard to the gross domestic product (GDP) will increase. (Pre-Election Programme, page 65)
In 2012, the Georgian Dream coalition made a promise to increase the percentage of government spending on education with regard to the gross domestic product (GDP).
In order to find out whether or not these promises of the Georgian Dream have been kept, we calculated the changes in the amounts of money spent on education with regard to the GDP as provided for by the state budget from 2013 to 2016. The amounts of money allocated by the state budget for education spending from 2013 to 2016 look like this:
Education Budget from 2013 to 2016
|Growth as Compared to the Previous Year (%)||52,557,300 (8.3%)||61,251,000 (9%)||96,688,300 (13.4%)||134,390,000 (16%)|
As the table makes clear, education spending has a trend of an annual increase. The highest growth rate was recorded in 2016 (16%).
As for the GDP and the ratio of education spending thereto, it looks like this:
Georgia’s GDP and Education Spending with Regard to GDP (GEL Million)
|Year||2013||2014||2015||2016 (I-II Quarters)|
|Education Spending with Regard to GDP||2.53 (%)||2.54 (%)||2.65 (%)||3.0%||3.2%|
As the table above makes clear, government spending on education with regard to the GDP of the country from 2013 to 2016 has had a steady trend of an annual increase.
Parallel to the increase in general education spending, the wages of those employed in educational facilities will also increase significantly. (Pre-Election Programme, page 65)
In 2012, the Georgian Dream coalition made a promise to increase the wages for school teachers. After the Georgian Dream assumed office, the first growth in the wages for school teachers was observed at the beginning of 2013. In terms of the 2013 state budget, the remuneration for school teachers increased from 26% to 59%. The basic wage for full-time teachers increased from GEL 245 to GEL 305. The growth was also based upon work experience and the employment categories to which the teachers belonged. No changes were observed in terms of the wage growth for school teachers in 2014. At the end of 2014, it was stated that school teachers would receive increased wages from the beginning of 2015.
The basic wage for school teachers increased by 17% (GEL 51.85) at the beginning of 2015 and reached GEL 356.85. There was another stage of wage growth in April 2016 with an increase to GEL 405.
The new Minister of Education and Science of Georgia, Aleksandre Jejelava, announced another increase in the wages for school teachers in September 2016. He said that the average wage for a school teacher would reach GEL 800 from next year.
Spending on pre-school education, professional education and higher education will be increased. (Pre-Election Programme, page 66)
In 2012, the Georgia Dream coalition promised to increase the spending on pre-school education, professional education and higher education alike.
Pre-school educational facilities are local government structures. There is a total of 60 municipalities around Georgia. We analysed the growth of spending on pre-school education using the example of Tbilisi.
According to the 2012 Tbilisi City budget, the overall amount of money allocated for pre-school education facilities was GEL 27,987,000. This budget almost doubled in 2013, reaching GEL 55,760,000. The budget allocated for pre-school education facilities increased to GEL 74 million in 2014 and GEL 82 million in 2015. According to the 2016 Tbilisi City budget, the amount of money allocated for pre-school education facilities equals GEL 84 million.
The budget for professional education facilities also had a trend of increase in the period from 2013 to 2016. In 2013, the amount of money allocated to this end was GEL 14,301,600 whilst increasing to GEL 35,838,000 in 2016. Hence, we have a 150% growth of the budget in this field.
As for higher education, the state budget put higher education and scientific research programmes in the same category and allocated a total of GEL 129,286,000 for them as of 2013. In 2014, higher education was designated as a separate category in the budget. In 2014, the state budget allocated GEL 102,415,000 for higher education and increased this amount to GEL 106,617,000 in 2016. The higher education budget increased by a mere 4% in the past three years.
Bidzina Ivanishvili: "I have been working on the project of a technological university since 2008 and I would not exclude the possibility of this university being built in Kutaisi with a cutting-edge technology industry being founded there as well."
Prior to the 2012 Parliamentary elections, the former Prime Minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, promised the population of Kutaisi that he would establish a technological university in their city. Mr Ivanishvili made the promise to build such a university back in 2011 as well. In terms of the pre-election campaign prior to the 2012 Parliamentary elections, he stated: “We will establish a university city in Kutaisi which will be equipped with ultra-modern technologies and infrastructure and it will have the same importance to modern Georgia as the Gelati Academy had during the reign of David the Builder.”
However, the promise remained unfulfilled. In 2015, a group of citizens started gathering signatures in support of the technological university in Kutaisi and demanded that the government keep its pre-election promise. “We ask and demand the fulfilment of your promise made back in 2012 and the founding of the technological university in Kutaisi. The city needs it very much,” said the statement of the citizens group directed towards Bidzina Ivanishvili and the Government of Georgia.The presentation of the technological university took place only four years after the promise, in May 2016. A total of EUR 250 million will be spent in terms of the technological university with the construction said to be finished in seven years. The Cartu Foundation will fully cover the costs. During the presentation of the university, Bidzina Ivanishvili stated that the project also includes the construction of a university city in Kutaisi. During his meeting with journalists on 14 July 2016, Mr Ivanishvili clarified that the university city would be built near Kutaisi. The foundations for the university were laid on 12 September 2016. The university buildings will be situated on 140 hectares of land and designed for a total of 60,000 students.