Please donate to Georgian revolution!30.07.2010 | 19:13
Mikheil Saakashvili resembles an old lady in the kitchen that does not know what to start with not to overboil milk and bake pies without burning them. Yesterday the Georgian leader was speaking about electronic government s a priority, today he has a new stunning idea - to carry out a revolution in public utilities and infrastructure. It means that by 2013 the utilities system and transport infrastructure will comply with international standards.
"I can say that by 2014 we will fulfill all promises we gave to the population... All these years the government has been working on these issues - Mikheil Saakashvili stated without evasion. - Water, good public utilities with counters and continuous electric power supply will be in all towns - this is a historical breakthrough toward modernization".
The Georgian leader is good at making revolutions, and bringing public utilities and transport infrastructure up to date may really be a breakthrough in Georgia. The president's personal breakthrough if he fulfills his promise not only in "cartoon" Tbilisi and Batumi - but in all other districts of the country too.
Nonetheless, it looks doubtful that the president's words full of metaphors - as usual - have any serious ground and will come true since no idea in the long list of Mikheil Saakashvili's projects has been finalized yet.
Suffice it to remember a solemn opening ceremony of a highway timed for the recent election. According to the eye-witnesses the president personally tested it on a ride in Formula I bolide. The next day the road was closed with repairs still underway.
What really matters for the Georgian government: quantity or quality? If quality does - why do new facilities have to be reconstructed?
- The Georgian government has long been toying with large-scale projects. But will it be able to provide for gas supply and decent roads in Georgia - this is certainly the president's metaphor that the Georgian population is used to. If the government fails to find a cloudless sky analyzing projects, then officials will not be rejoiced by their implementation. Because in addition to infrastructure they obtain a source of money coining for themselves due to a high level of corruption in the elite", - Soso Tsikkarishvili, an expert on economic issues explains.
- What a surprise! Only yesterday Mikheil Saakashvili stated that he had driven the last nail in the coffin of black economy? Driven it not well enough? And how about international standards?
As far as I understand, Mr. President aims at the foreign quality standard - ISO, doesn't he? Then companies invited to implement Saakashvili's new project will have to comply with several simple requirements: quality of goods, production of goods that will fully satisfy demands and expectations of consumers and a serious control of document flow. That means, an official will not be able to put any extra lari in his pocket. Never mind! Since there won't be any extra lari - there is no money in the state budget for projects like this one.
Our second interlocutor, David Darchashvili, Soros Foundation executive director in Georgia states that the money will stream to Georgia when the issue is raised:
- Such projects usually envisage allocation of budget funds, but sometimes private investments are taken into consideration. Lots of hundreds of millions have already been spent on gasification in various districts. I know the ministry is working on it, so gasification and water supply are developing fast. But generally speaking I'm not totally good at the issue since I'm in charge of European integration.
Isn't the derelict infrastructure a problem that hampers Eurointegration? Economists unanimously state that the money comes from Georgian citizens and international loans. External debts will most probably ruin Georgian statehood than yield real results unless the process of fund-raising from international organizations is scrupulously controlled.
There is an impression that the Georgian economy is beyond classical laws of evolution if corruption and international standards live together in the country. However, Soso Tsiskarishvili believes that the author takes the phrase "international standards" too literally:
- Maybe the president implied a basic notion of standards: if there is a gas pipeline - there has to be gas, if there is electricity, then press a button and there has to be light. We consider this as world standards. That is why most probably energy supply is considered a sufficient factor for international quality standards. Not long ago the World Bank outlined a list of countries indicating percentage of black economy. Georgia is ranked 151st with 70% of that "stuff". So it's difficult to say that amounts that the government borrows from external sources are spent equivalently. That means, naturally, the scope of program implementation will be much lower than promised. And the quality of work leaves us to think that double measures for modernization as compared to design calculations will be needed. Published figures will be those that the authorities want.