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At the presidential debates aired on the Georgian Public Broadcaster on 17 October 2013, Giorgi Targamadze, presidential candidate from the Christian-Democratic Movement, stated: “None of them (United National Movement and the Georgian Dream) has the political dignity to admit that according to the data of the UN, 13% of the Georgian population (600,000 persons) spends only two lari

a day on everything, including food. This means that 13% of the Georgian population is suffering from starvation.”

FactCheck

inquired about the truthfulness of Giorgi Targamadze’s statement and checked its accuracy.

In his statement the presidential candidate for the Christian-Democratic Movement relies upon the statistical data

of the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) according to which 15.3% of the Georgian population lives below the internationally defined subsistence level (USD 1.25 PPP – Purchasing Power Parity). This means that the average daily consumption of 15.3% of the Georgian population is lower than USD 1.25 PPP.

As reported

by the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the Georgian population totals 4,483,000 and so the indicated 15.3% of the population, whose daily consumption does not exceed USD 1.25 PPP, amounts to more than 650,000 persons.

Aiming to shed more light on the matter we further discuss the current subsistence level and poverty indicators in Georgia.

According to the latest data, the subsistence level is presently at GEL 147 of which 70% is intended for food. The National Statistics Office of Georgia measures the subsistence level based on the minimum food basket which is defined in accordance with the decree No 111/N dated 8 May 2003 of the Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia On Approving Norms for Physiological Requirements of Food Substance and Energy and Determining Composition of Minimum Food Basket for Calculation of Subsistence Minimum.

The minimum food basket includes up to 40 sorts of products and defines the daily minimum norm to be at 2,300 kilocalories. Therefore, a person needs to have an income of at least GEL 147 a month (roughly GEL 5 a day) in order receive the established minimum amount of calories.

Notwithstanding the fact that the UNDP reports 15.3% of the Georgian population to have the Purchasing Power Parity of no more than GEL 2, this does not automatically imply a caloric starvation of these people as the given indicator overlooks the informal incomes of some of those who have low Purchasing Power Parity (for instance, the natural products available to those living in the country).

The National Statistics Office of Georgia provides statistical data

on living conditions of the population. The data for 2012 shows the share of population under the poverty threshold (Registered Poverty) to be at 9.7%. These individuals are included in the state programme and receive a pecuniary monthly assistance.

Conclusion

The data of the United National Development Programme for 2012 estimates 15.3% of the Georgian population (674,450 persons) to have the daily Purchasing Power Parity of no more than USD 1.25 (GEL 2) so the percentage is even higher than indicated by the presidential candidate.

Targamadze is misled in his assessment – “This means that 13% of the Georgian population is suffering from starvation” – as Purchasing Power Parity does not automatically indicate a caloric starvation due to the fact that it disregards, for example, the agricultural products which people living in the country are not necessarily purchasing but still receiving and consuming.

Our inquiry about the subsistence level and poverty indicators in Georgia revealed that the minimum food basket includes 40 kinds of products and defines the daily minimum norm of 2,300 kilocalories. According to the latest data of 2013, the subsistence level of Georgia is equal to GEL 147 (about GEL 5 per day).

It can logically be estimated that the defined minimum amount of calories cannot be purchased with GEL 2 but the possibility of acquiring food through informal incomes still remains. It is also to be noted that according to the statistics of the National Statistics Office of Georgia the share of people below the poverty threshold equals 9.7%.

Consequently, we conclude that Giorgi Targamadze’s statement: “According to the data of the UN, 13% of the Georgian population (600,000 persons) spends only two lari a day on everything, including food. This means that 13% of the Georgian population is suffering from starvation,”is HALF TRUE.

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