At November 22 government meeting, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced plans of replacing Georgia’s “faulty” social policy system with a “healthier” alternative, that would offer jobs in the public sector, instead of social allowances to citizens able to work.
“With current social policy, we accustomed adult labor force, our citizens, to unemployment, poverty, and inaction,” the Prime Minister said, vowing to instead create a “flexible system” where citizens will earn their social assistance as salaries.
Besides, the PM continued, “they need to have a possibility to work extra and feel free to work at two or three places and earn income from multiple parallel sources.” “Our citizens should get used to work.”
Fearing the loss of social aid, the Prime Minister said, socially vulnerable citizens able to work are not motivated to start a new job or improve basic living conditions. Garibashvili estimated that at least 200,000 out of the total 600,000 vulnerable citizens receiving social aid fall into the category.
Deputy Prime Minister Levan Davitashvili will head the task force in charge of developing the new program the Prime Minister seeks to launch in January next year.
Critics questioned the Prime Minister’s conviction that the system discourages the labor force from seeking employment. Tatuli Chubabria, from the Social Justice Center, a local CSO, said that the recipients of social aid can work without the fear of losing the allowance even under the current system. She also rejected the PM’s reasoning that 200,000 citizens are without work, noting high incidence of informal economy employment in the country.
According to the latest statistics, in October 633,586 citizens or 171,724 families received a subsistence allowance totaling GEL 43,38 million (USD 13,88 mln). The figures stood at 532,242 and 148,653, respectively in January, with subsistence spending totaling GEL 29,81 million (USD 9.5 mln).
The amount of the distributed social aid to each family varies. The families are ranked by social workers that allot points. Those scoring less than 30,001 points receive the largest sum – 60 GEL (19.20 USD) per family member, and those scoring in-between 60,001 and 65 001, the highest eligible score, receive 30 GEL (9.60). In addition, families that score less than 120,001 points, receive financial aid of GEL 100 for each family member that is younger than 16 years old.