Mikheil Saakashvili delivering his address with UNM logo in the background, April 3, 2018. Photo: screengrab from Youtube
Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who serves as the honorary chairman of the opposition United National Movement party, released a brief televised statement today, slamming the Georgian Dream government for “catastrophic” economic situation in the country, and pledging to increase pensions for the elderly and salaries for the policemen and the teachers.
“The worsened state of the economy has its concrete reasons – the mafia that has been engrained in the economic governance process,” Saakashvili said in his appeal. “[Ex-PM Bidzina] Ivanishvili is doing in Georgia the same that he had learned from Russia in the 1990s; he made a deal with several banks, and is now engaged in destroying the Georgian economy though these banks.”
“I would like to tell this mafia that we will put an end to their domination, and return the economic power to Georgian families, to every Georgian, to real Georgian businesses - small and medium-sized enterprises,” ex-President Saakashvili also said, adding that this would enable his party to “immediately increase salaries.”
Mikheil Saakashvili then reiterated the recent promise of the United National Movement to increase the old age pension to GEL 400 (USD 166), saying it would be “easy” to fulfil after government change, that, according to the ex-President, should take place “in parallel” to the presidential elections in October 2018.
Saakashvili spoke on teachers’ salaries as well, saying the amount should equal to at least GEL 1000 (USD 416).
The ex-President also noted that the policemen were particularly “hard hit,” with “rising crime rates, illegal orders, nepotism and corruption.” Their minimal salary, he went on, should be GEL 2000 (USD 832) “considering the risks that accompany their work, and the fact that many policemen are leaving the country.”
“The main problem facing the country is that a lot of people are leaving, and the threat can [only] be addressed through economic development, rapid growth of living standards and pay raises,” Saakashvili said, adding that he would be “personally dealing” with these reforms.
“The [Georgian Dream] government is bringing [additional] charges against me to force me to re-think coming back to Georgia, which it won’t achieve: I will return to Georgia and implement all these programs together with my team, I won’t leave the Georgian people in despair,” the ex-President concluded.