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20 lari to save Georgia2011-02-04 18:35
In response to the inflation that has reached 11% Georgian government started distributing GEL 20 vouchers to pay energy bills among Georgian families. The amount is less than the figure indicated in a monthly bill and it won't save people from impoverishment. Nonetheless, these vouchers will make a noticeable hole in Georgia's deficit-ridden budget - GEL 20 mln. In fact, the government could scatter this money to the wind just as well. But what a nice slogan: Mikheil Saakashvili shares people's anxiety over price increase.
Vouchers are a proven method of bribing Georgian electorate. They helped Mikheil Saakashvili win his second presidential election. The next election race is far away, but he has to resort to his favorite trick now.
The situation in Georgia is becoming worse each day. The inflation flywheel sped up to 11% last year and keeps running still faster. Miners, refugees, war veterans are on strike. Even the opposition, always ready to protest, is scared of the social explosion suggesting anti-crisis measures to the government. The first one is to curtail non-transparent budget articles like reserve finds and entertainment activities.
But the government has another plan, brilliant in its simplicity, to soap down people with 20-GEL electricity vouchers. Distribution of bonuses will continue from February 10 up to March 15 as energy minister Alexander Khetaguri stated yesterday.
This will be a non-recurrent measure with the predefined amount to be automatically added to accounts of power network suppliers. "We must exclude bureaucracy completely in this issue and avoid long queues for people to have these amounts added to their accounts", - Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili said presenting good news.
He also allowed the rich to help the poor and give vouchers to other people if paying utility bills is not a problem. In this case the voucher should be received in the form of a document and then given to another person. "If somebody wants to give the voucher to another person the procedure must be registered in the energy company", - minister Khetaguri explained.
GEL 20 (USD 11.1) is one fifth of a pension. That very Georgian pension below minimum subsistence level. The president's giftling is open mockery. Like Mikheil Saakashvili's pathos over territorial non-integrity and inflation. 20-GEL vouchers, as the Georgian leader claims, are "the government's manifestation of solidarity in problems that people face because of inflation".