Unemployed Georgians fed with statistics09.09.2011 | 11:33
Unemployment is disastrous in Georgia. While the government keeps making believe that the unemployed are "only" sixteen percent, more than a half of Sakartvelo citizens are thinking where to get money for a living. In order not to mar the statistics, the authorities are ready to rank everyone as "employed" - a peasant on his plot and a beggar gathering bottles. Economic expert Giorgy Khukhashvili shared his opinion on the situation with GeorgiaTimes.
In Georgia, having a job is the luxury that not everyone can afford. Anyone seeking for the first or a new workplace has to face the fact. Despite all efforts, it is very hard to get employed in Sakartvelo, especially if you are a little bit beyond the employer's "ideal" criteria - for instance, if you are over forty or if you are a woman.
The government prefers putting up a brave front, though to onlooker, the "sunny" statistics looks appalling. According to official data, there are 16,3 percent of unemployed among those who are able to work. But even if we close eyes and believe the government - is it not much?
As was stated by Executive Director of the National Statistics Service of Georgia Zaza Chelidze, 320 thousand people are ranked as unemployed throughout the country and one million six hundred and twenty people are considered to be working. The point is that a person is regarded to be working even if he is "self-employed", for instance, if he ploughs his plot of land and thus provides for himself. And if we face reality... "If we consider only hired people as employed, the unemployment level will be much higher - up to 60-65 percent", - Chelidze stated.
People with higher education have to agree to routine or nasty job. A degreed chemist works as a cleaning woman in a restaurant only because she is a 54-year-old lady. Her country does not need her knowledge; there are simply no enterprises or R&D Institutes where her talent would be demanded. Employment centers clearly show whom Sakartvelo needs today: waiters, dishwashers, bakers, khinkali-makers. But these positions are also mostly occupied by the young.
"They need young people now who can operate a computer. I am fifty; who needs me?" - an aged Georgian is lamenting.
Recommendations to look through employment websites more often sound mocking, for the occupation requires a computer and Internet access. But where can people get them if they are not sure they'll have enough money to buy food?
Leader of the Free Democrats oppositional party Irakly Alasania called the current statistics "distorted". At today's briefing, Alasania appealed to the government and suggested creating agricultural funds and small and medium business development funds. He also proposed to stop turning a blind eye on reality, however terrible it might seem. "A center must be set up where all the unemployed will be registered. Thus, we will find out what kind of occupations are not in demand and people of what age are not employed", - Alasania underlined.
"There is nothing new, and the authorities themselves do not insist on the official statistical data, - economic expert Giorgy Khukhashvili stated in an interview to GeorgiaTimes. - Various researches were carried out, including those by international organizations, that showed that about 70 percent of the Georgian population feels unemployed. Me personally, I considered this figure to be a bit exaggerated but the situation is surely much more complicated than the officially stated 16 percent".
The expert places in question the very criteria used by state statistics. "There is a notion of "self-employment" there. The government does not say what is meant but, for instance, they regard every villager as employed because he has got his plot of land to cultivate. Official statistics is the victim of real manipulation. It says that even if a person gathers bottles in the street to return them he is considered to be employed. Such statistics in no way reflects real social risks in Georgia", - Khukhashvili told.
Besides, he underlined that there are so-called labour exchanges where people are hired just for one day, for instance, to toss out the garbage or do some other one-time job. Such people are also considered as employed though they may be working one or two days a month! Of course, they cannot be considered as such.
"Besides, the government is self-contradictory, - the expert underlined. - For instance, they talk about social aid rendered to the unprotected layers, stating a figure of one million people. But that's three times more than the official number of the unemployed in Georgia! If part of this million is employed according to the statistics, how can this part be socially unprotected? Though, such discrepancies are typical of the current authorities - it's just a propagandistic game".