PM: 2-month Restrictions Aim to Allow Us to Continue Normal Life in February

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia made several statements at today's cabinet meeting. In his speech, he touched upon the 2021 budget, the recent NATO Foreign Ministerial, the epidemiological situation in the country and assistance allocated for citizens amid the financial difficulties caused by the economic crisis. 

"We have submitted to the Parliament the 2021 budget, a crucially important document which will guide us in 2021 and define the country’s state of affairs in a year’s time," he said. 

“The budget is balanced, and the key goal is to fight the pandemic, secure targeted social assistance for the population, support businesses, and prepare the economy for post-crisis recovery, of course. We developed this budget together with the International Monetary Fund, and this balanced budget covers all basic components necessary to fight against the pandemic and recession. We have announced a 4th wave of targeted social assistance for citizens and businesses, with a volume of 1 billion 420 mln GEL, of which 280 mln GEL is set aside for 2020 and 1 bln 140 mln for 2021. These sums will be channeled, above all else, toward healthcare, with an additional 450 mln GEL allocated under the next year’s budget and main expenses being COVID treatment, testing, preparation for, procurement of, and implementation of vaccination, and virus spread prevention. For citizen targeted assistance, next year’s budget allocates 540 mln GEL, and 430 mln GEL to support businesses,” the PM noted.

From Thursday, the Revenue Service is accepting applications, PM Gakharia added, and citizens and companies (unregistered, self-employed) who have temporarily lost sources of income should fill in an application in a timely manner in order to enjoy assistance before the New Year.

“Today, we start accepting applications for targeted social assistance to citizens who, as a result of the last two months of restrictions, have temporarily lost their jobs. We must help, and the Finance Ministry has been instructed to issue this assistance before New Year. Citizens must apply to the relevant agencies in a timely manner to receive assistance.

"Next year’s budget also increases pensions, an annual raise enshrined in legislation, so our pensioners will not have to wait from election to election to receive increased pensions. Significant amounts are also allocated for constructing residences for refugees, 103 million GEL. I emphasize that, despite the crisis, financing for infrastructural projects is increasing, and so is the budget of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, in excess of 4 billion GEL. Financing is also increasing for the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Economy, and every other Ministry relevant to the country’s rapid post-crisis economic recovery. The budget is the country’s main financial document, which will be reviewed by Parliament, and it is of vital importance for this review to engage every political force that has received trust from Georgian citizens, and is therefore mandated to take part in debates on a document of systemic importance to the country. We hope that it will happen in the near future, before New Year, so that we can have interesting, albeit heated, discussions on this budget,” he said.

The Head of Government also discussed the schedule of intensive testing that will reach 20,000 tests a day in the near future.

“We announced a specific plan of precision-targeted restrictions valid for two months, which should stabilize the community transfer rate. At the same time, we are announcing a new schedule of intensive testing, which was launched yesterday and will reach 20 000 tests a day in the nearest future.

"It is a parallel process, which should facilitate a quick detection of viral spread. Citizens of Georgia will have an opportunity to get tested at the expense of the State as 20 000 tests will be administered a day. It is on top of what the private sector will do. These steps have a specific goal to make this 2-month-long plan of restrictions most effective, leading to a greater efficiency of detection and ultimate isolation or medical care of the affected individuals, so that we all continue living a full life from early February, upon the completion of these two months” noted Giorgi Gakharia.

The Prime Minister, in discussing COVID-19, emphasized that a special interagency group has been put together to oversee planning and procurement for the vaccination process.

“Georgia is a member state of the COVAX platform and have already made payments for the timely supply of vials. The Inter-Agency Commission should ensure the timely supply of vaccines and execution of preparatory technical works, which are essential for the launch of timely and effective immunization,” he noted.

Gakharia pointed out that everyone must comply with the law and imposed restrictions to ensure the fast curbing of community transfer.

“Along with everything else, we should take into account that this two-month plan of restrictions, intensified testing and all the rest, is aimed at curbing the community transfer rate most efficiently within two months. Of course, we should understand that it is impossible to have a critical reduction in the viral spread within two months, though quick curbing of the community transfer rate was and remains important for us. That is why we should all comply with the law and imposed restrictions to safeguard each other and our elderly. Of course, freedom of expression will not be restricted by anyone, ever. Nevertheless, the requirements set nowadays by the law, epidemiologists and medical doctors are not that difficult to comply with. We may keep our freedom of expression and also comply with basic rules. It is not hard to wear the facemasks and adhere to the rules. Of course, it applies to everyone and I wish to request the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to tightly enforce the restrictions imposed by the Government of Georgia, epidemiologists and medical doctors that do not hamper the freedom of expression at all. This is the prime requirement for our citizens and we should primarily safeguard their health and hamper the community transfer rate,” the Prime Minister stated.

He also commented on the recent NATO Foreign Ministerial and thanked and congratulated Georgia’s Foreign Minister for his successful participation. The Ministerial voiced messages of paramount importance to Georgia, Gakharia added.

“Most importantly, NATO remains committed to continuing its open-door policy, a matter of principal importance to our country. I would like to thank the Foreign Ministers of our friend countries for supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity, further enhancing the country’s integration into the North-Atlantic Alliance, and stepping up Georgia’s defense capabilities through practical steps and plans. This is very important to us, because it reaffirms that our partner and friend countries have a correct understanding of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, and we enjoy their full support,” the PM said. 

03 December 2020 15:08