Georgia will have 2.5% economic growth next year, but it will be enough to help the country to overcome the economic difficulties, President Saakashvili said on December 28.
Speaking at a government’s session, which was aired live for over an hour by the national television stations (except of the public TV), Saakashvili said that the forecasted 2.5% economic growth “will help us to avert recession.”
At the session Finance Minister, Nika Gilauri, told the President that he expected over USD 1 billion foreign direct investment to come from “large companies” next year. He added that Rakeen, the real estate development arm of the UAE’s Ras Al Khaimah emirate, planned to invest about USD 200 million in 2009. Gilauri presented to the government members, what he called, “an economic stimulus package.”
“We do not have a crisis in Georgia yet,” Saakashvili told the government members. “There is a slowdown of economy; but there is no crisis similar to the one which is in Ukraine – where production has been halted – and similar to the one which is in Russia – where the state is failing to pay salaries.”
He again reiterated that the next six months would be difficult, but also added that he expected that in case of proper policies the country would start overcoming difficulties from the second half of 2009 and “in 2010 we will be able to get back to the economic growth pace, which we had” in previous years.
The Finance Minister said that at the session: “We will end this year with 2% economic growth” – against 12% in 2007. He, however, also said that the 2% growth was “anyway normal” in the light of the world economic crisis.
Saakashvili asked a new commission charged with stabilizing the country’s economy to become more inclusive and to invite “businesspeople… experts, and professors.” The commission is co-chaired by PM Grigol Mgaloblishvili and former PM Lado Gurgenidze. He also said that the government should be “tolerant towards criticism” and added that the government should cooperate closely with the Anti-Crisis Council.
He hailed the government for “hard work” and made a special focus on PM Mgaloblishvili in this regard. “He comes to office at 8am and leaves the office at 3am – that’s more than even I can… Don’t work after 1am, everyone has the right to have an 8-hour sleep,” Saakashvili told the Prime Minister.
During the session, President Saakashvili asked the Finance Minister what the monthly subsistence level was. Finance Minister Gilauri responded after couple of seconds of hesitation, that he did not know exactly; then he added: “I think it’s GEL 100.”
“That is something, which the government member should know,” Saakashvili responded and then asked the same question to Sandro Kvitashvili, the minister for healthcare and social issues, who responded also hesitantly: “I think GEL 105 per person.”
Then it was heard someone from the government members saying in the room: “It’s GEL 157;” Kvitashvili, however, responded: “GEL 157 is per family.” The Finance Minister intervened at that point by saying: “It’s USD 100, not GEL 100.”
According to the Statistics Department, a monthly subsistence level per family in November, 2008 was GEL 218 (about USD 131) and GEL 115.1 per person (up to USD 70) in the same period.