Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili today delivered his annual address to Parliament, reviewing the government’s performance over the past year, and discussing his cabinet’s anticipated 10-year development plan.
Economic Development, Recovery from COVID-19, Vaccination
According to PM Garibashvili, the effects of the pandemic contracted the Georgian economy by 6.2%, though the government promptly sought USD 2.1 billion from international financial institutes to continue infrastructural projects, agricultural development, as well as to support local production and the working class.
Specifically, the Georgian PM claimed that government health expenditures amounted to GEL 900 million (USD 288 million), support for businesses amid the pandemic reached GEL 3 billion (USD 957 million), while GEL 1.3 billion (USD 414 million) was spent on social protection measures.
Recalling significant infrastructural projects, PM Garibashvili said that about 82% of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway has been completed, with test deliveries already underway. In addition, the Georgian PM said that the construction of the Poti Maritime Terminal “is in its active phase,” while a new terminal has already been added to the Kutaisi International Airport. “The Anaklia Deep Sea Port remains a priority,” he added.
Stressing that the government has allocated GEL 500 million (USD 160 million) for the first stage of its regional development program, PM Garibashvili said that providing natural gas and water supplies to Georgia’s regions is actively ongoing. “Last year and this year, a total of more than 8,300 infrastructure projects were selected for funding under the rural support program,” he noted.
Regarding Georgia’s vaccination efforts, PM Garibashvili said the country is set to receive 4 million vaccine doses by the end of the year, which, he claimed, will suffice to vaccinate 60% of the population as intended by the government’s inoculation plan.
Euro-Atlantic Integration, Occupation, Nagorno-Karabakh
PM Garibashvili reiterated that full-fledged European Union and NATO integration continue to be Georgia’s key goals, stressing that the country plans to officially apply for EU membership in 2024. To this end, the Georgian Prime Minister asserted that “cooperation with the EU is deepening at both the highest political and institutional levels.”
Regarding U.S.-Georgian relations, PM Garibashvili stressed that “legislative acts approved by Congress at the end of 2020,” and the reintroduction of the Bipartisan Georgia Support Act, confirm Washington’s “unwavering support” for Georgia.
Highlighting that the country is “ready to become a member of NATO by all parameters,” the Georgian PM said through participation in the concluding NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, the Georgian military displayed its capabilities to the world.
Noting that international support for Georgia’s non-recognition policy of Russian-occupied territories is growing, PM Garibashvili noted that the Georgian authorities are also “working to punish those responsible for violating the lives of our citizens, to release illegal detainees, including Zaza Gakheladze and Irakli Bebua.”
In addition, the Prime Minister highlighted the recent deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia, brokered by Georgia and the U.S., and resulting in the release of 15 Armenian prisoners of war. Noting that the war in Nagorno-Karabakh left the region with serious challenges, PM Garibashvili stressed that regional peace and stability are essential.
Rough 10-Year Development Plan Unveiled
Though previously vowing to present a preliminary version of his government’s 10-year development plan no later than May 31, Prime Minister Garibashvili unveiled key points of the said proposal today.
According to the 10-year development proposal, the Georgian authorities, among others, plan to:
- Employ another 100,000 citizens in small and medium-sized enterprises, and increase productivity by 50%;
- Add another up to 30,000 mining jobs nationwide to the existing 37,000;
- Add 11 more countries to Georgia’s 45 existing trade partners;
- Spend another GEL 31 billion (USD 9.9 billion) in infrastructure projects;
- Spend GEL 6 billion (USD 1.9 billion) to fund 1,300 new enterprises, and 400 hotels;
- Increase GDP per capital to USD 10,000 and bring unemployment to 9%;
- Subsidize mortgage loan for large families and couples with newborns;
- Ensure 24-hour available water supply in all cities by 2025, and nationwide by 2030;
- Support 2,000 more Georgian companies in exporting their products;
- Reach an annual net export of USD 5 billion, of which USD 3 billion is to be constituted by agricultural exports;
- Increase the annual number of tourists to 13 million, and reach USD 6.5 billion in tourism revenues;
- Spend GEL 2.8 billion (USD 893 million) on higher education, and GEL 2.1 billion (USD 670 million) on scientific research;
- Gradually raise teacher salaries over GEL 2,200 (USD 700);
- develop anti-armor, air defense, artillery, intelligence, surveillance, and military engineering capabilities.
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