Voucher to replace lari15.02.2011 | 13:37
It seems Georgian economy is in such a poor state that even country leaders allow discussion of economic problems in public. Mikheil Saakashvili's speech in parliament was mostly focused on enormous inflation. The solution was found: waiting for an economic miracle people will get by on GEL 30 vouchers. As the leaders of the republic think, this amount will help visitors of Georgian supermarkets feel like real "customers".
Mikheil Saakashvili's speeches are always enveloped in fatherly feelings that he tries to show for citizens of his country. His recent speech in front of Georgian deputies is no exception. "I know how people live, and I know their needs. Price growth and inflation are key problems. Many families are in despair, they have lost all hope for tomorrow. The task of my presidency is to make their lives better", - said the man whose governance brought Georgia to financial addiction. Presently the country's economy can't do without all kinds of "grants" and "tranches". However, attempts to disguise this dependence with foreign terms are pointless: pittance is always a humiliation.
But president Saakashvili is not one to give up in the face of troubles. Suffice it to see how many efforts he applies to make South Ossetian and Abkhaz population "come back" to the friendly and close-knit family of Georgia's nations. "We must look for solutions. We are not going to sit with our arms folded. We will do our best to defend our people from the global economic crisis and protect them against inflation processes. Georgia has enough resources to minimize them", - the head of the state assured the deputies.
These "resources" seem to be the basis for the experiment Georgian authorities pursue giving alms to the population. In March 2011 each family will receive a GEL 30 food voucher to buy 12 kg of sugar, for example. Those who don't collect crumbs and don't need the state's generosity will be able to help others by giving their vouchers to low-income compatriots that prevail in the republic.
Recently people were informed on distribution of electricity vouchers. One might assume that if the process continues Georgia will face "total voucherization" for there are so many goods and services unavailable to the majority of the population. What else will Saakashvili's government give to people? GEL 25 clothes vouchers? Or GEL 40 fuel sheets with petrol getting more expensive each day? After all, if the experiment is found successful, the notion "lari" will die out under the pressure of the word "voucher" so widely advertised by Georgian authorities. A voucher, by the way, may herald introduction of a rationing system in the country.
Georgi Khukhashvili, a well-known Georgian expert for economic issues is sure that new initiatives will be harmful for the country. "From an economic standpoint this step is unacceptable, it has no economic component. It will only stir up the inflation. Certainly, the total volume of this aid is so small that an inflation apocalypse is out of question. Price growth in the country is already too high", - he emphasized in an interview with GeorgiaTimes.
"Definitely, it is a small amount considering social status of an average Georgian. But there is something else here - a PR-component", - Khukhashvili adds.
The expert believes that the government's program might be part of an advertising campaign since voucher distribution might become mandatory only in definite stores. "It's quite likely that the campaign will involve some brand-new supermarket chain as part of a promo-action", - he emphasized.
Most probably, the idea to distribute food vouchers is aimed at preventing massive protests over drastic food price growth. Soon we will learn if this GEL 30 "sedative" is long-acting or not.