TBILISI, DFWatch – Four months away from an important election, the ruling party in Georgia has passed a new law which frees socially vulnerable families from paying fines for not having paid electricity, natural gas, bus ticket and other fines.

The law came into force Wednesday.

The health ministry has decided that the new provision will apply to families that are below the subsistance level.

Whether families qualify will be decided by the Social Agency, which will calculate each family’s property and income, according to a points system.

If the income points are not more than 57 000, the family will receive financial assistance.

If not lower than 70 000 points, family members will be exempted from paying administrative fees. Also exempted are pensioners, people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities. Also qualified are person who live at the same address as registered pensioners or persons with disabilities.

According to data from 2011, 1 632 403 people are below the poverty line. This amounts to 36.5 percent of the population. 394 819 or 8.7 percent of the population are poor and are receiving financial support from the state.

According to Georgia’s National Statistics Department, the minimum subsistance level for men of working age in May 2012 was 150.1 lari per month, or about USD 92.

Initial fines for not paying taxes for electricity, natural gas, home phone range from 5 to 10 lari. In case of non-payment, companies suspend services until the customer pays, and then restore it, which may cost additional fees.

In case of not buying a bus ticket, the fine is five lari.

Traffic violations range from 10 to 100 lari and more, depending on the severity of the violation.