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Saakashvili returns to a tried and tested formula2009-02-02 09:17
Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili has called on his countrymen who went abroad in search of work to return to their homeland and get involved in reviving the country.
Moreover, according to him, at the moment there is no economic crisis in the country. This means, so remarked the president, that the global economic crisis has not affected Georgia on the same scale as it has other countries. Which is a reason for them to return to their homeland. (Yet it remains unclear: if everything is not that bad, then why is he talking about a revival?)
The head of state made this statement on 27th January during the opening of the Adjari regional office of TBC-Bank in Batumi.
Saakashvili's initiative provoked bewilderment among Georgian economic experts. After all, the country has been suffering from unemployment for ten years. Saakashvili's latest election campaign in 2008 was carried out under the slogan of the fight against poverty and solving the problem of his citizens' finding work. Back then a state programme to tackle this problem was even established. And as soon as the registration of unemployed people began, the throng almost caused the exhibition centre where it was taking place to burst at the seams.
Work genuinely was found for a few thousand people. The one problem was that within a few months most of them had been fired, and the programme itself was forgotten about straight after Saakashvili's inauguration.
Just what can the president offer those who do actually listen to his appeal?
As the economic expert Irakli Shavishvili told the radio station Kommersant, tens of thousands of people remain without work in Georgia, and in conditions such as these the country is not ready to take in a new wave of people looking for work.
This week the trade union confederation, as the Georgian media reports, proposed creating an institution which would prevent mass lay-offs. According to the chairman of this confederation Irakli Petriashvili, in the last month alone 35,000 people employed in the banking and construction sectors, as well as employees in small enterprises, ended up on the street.
Incidentally, according to a survey carried out by the weekly Kviris palitra, out of all the consequences of the world economic crisis, Georgians are most afraid of unemployment. Hence 43% of respondents said that this misfortune was the most frightening threat. In second place was an increase in food prices, followed by a depreciation in the national currency (lari).
It is interesting to note that the social problems - unemployment, low pensions, inflation - stated by the country's citizens are almost exactly the same as what they consider to be the authorities' biggest failures. This is according to the results of a survey carried out by the Centre for sociological research "Interpress-Research".
Now we should look at whether his compatriots will want to respond to the president's appeal. What are the prerequisites for this to happen, or... the "counter-prerequisites"?