TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian president says the Georgian government has delivered on its promises.
He said this during a speech at Georgetown University as part of his official visit to the U.S. this week.
“Our economy has quadrupled. Crime has decreased fivefold. The poverty level has fallen to 17%. Modernization of the health care system and education system is in progress. We are building new roads. The fertility rate has increased. I don’t think there is a country which could have achieved as much progress in such a short time,” Mikheil Saakashvili said.
The president’s speech however contrasts with some basic statistics. Officially 4 million people are living in Georgia, although in reality the number is much less. 900 000 of them are living below the poverty line and 600 000 are barely above the poverty line. State pension is from 70 to 100 lari, about 40-60 dollars, despite Saakashvili’s promise from 2003 that pensions would be 100 dollars within one year. In addition, the minimum wage at the end of 2011 was officially 160 lari, around 96 dollars.
But the Georgian president claims that the government fulfilled the promise given to society.
As an example he also names the police reform and claims that as a result of the reform “police has 86% trust while the old police only had 5% trust.”
He added that this is a higher level of trust than much of Europe and that Georgia even competes with Finland and Denmark in terms of how much people trust the police.
“According to reliable European researches, our country is the safest in Europe and the crime level is lowest here. For the last three years our competitor was Iceland, which is an island in fact. But now we have overtaken them too. We made this so that we hadn’t created the ocean between our country and the rest of the world,” the president remarked.
During his speech he described the current situation in the country, and basing his views on research done by Transparency International, he remarked that Georgia has one of the most transparent state offices in the world.
“The current situation is the following: Canadian Centre for Justice and Democracy conducted a survey in 64 countries through local branches of Transparency International about how the population rates the state’s offices and found that after the New Zeeland we have the most transparent state offices in the world, while we used to be among the worst. We need around ten minutes to receive a passport in Georgia, a few minutes to receive a driver’s license, to declare goods; I don’t mean private luggage or diplomat. It’s possible to cross the border by car without presenting a passport. You can cross the border with a microchip passports without bringing out the passport from your passport as if it was the toll road ticket. This is exactly what has changed,” Saakashvili said.
He also made reference to the World Bank’s ranking list “ease of doing business”, on which Georgia has steadily climed towards the top. He remarked that “Georgia is first in Eastern and Central Europe in regards to the ease of doing the business.”
“Imagine, in Georgia it’s fastest in the world to register a property and a company, the customs procedures are the fastest and this all in one window, is concentrated in one building, where smiling people are working, they salute you while arriving and even if you want, they won’t let you to stay there. They tell that you should take your documents and leave. That’s how all works,” Saakashvili explained.