GOVERNMENT PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR 2018 PRESENTED BY MAMUKA BAKHTADZE, PRIME MINISTER OF GEORGIA Print Version

2018-12-20

.

..  ...Your

Holiness, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia,

Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia,

Honorable Members of Parliament, Government Members, Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps,

Let me greet you all!

I also greet our celebrated servicemen, policemen, doctors, teachers, sportmen, our entrepreneurs,

Thank you enormously for being with us today!

I wish to present the Government of Georgia Performance Report for 2018 to you and Georgian society at large. I will try to once again focus on what we managed to achieve in 2018 and what problems have been experienced by the country that require shared effort and solution. I have always been referring to two most pressing challenges facing Georgia - occupation and poverty. Exactly this is our national aim to eradicate both with a common effort. I believe that every citizen of Georgia should stand united around this goal. We all want to end poverty in our country and to let every citizen enjoy a decent life.

Our goal is to let Georgia return to its large European family, where human rights and freedoms, independence of judiciary and media, supremacy of law, protection of private propery are the main values; where the agenda of a country gets shaped by democratic, strong public institutions on the basis of economic development paradigms. Of course, achievement of all of this is a very complex task on the background of challenges that we currently face in Georgia.

We have initiated real changes since 2012 and my every predecessor was doing his best to mitigate the most pressing problem of our country - poverty - in the most efficient manner. We have significant results towards this end. We managed to reduce poverty by almost 10%, however large part of our society sadly still lives in poverty.

Unfortunately, unemployment remains to be the main economic challenge in the country and it is a very difficult obstable to overcome for making our country develop with greater speed. Hence, eradication of poverty is naturally still our key task. When we talk about any economic initiative, key performance criterium is whether an initiative will lead to the eradication of poverty in Georgia once and for all. We carry out very important reforms and I am confident that they will result in overcoming the poverty ultimately, however this also requires certain time. Main thing for all of us is to remain confident that Government of Georgia is on a correct track and this road will lead to the ultimate goal. I believe that international ratings need to be referred for evidence as they evaluate the economic policy and success of the country. I wish to list several of them: this year Georgia has been ranked 6th in the World Bank Doing Business Index and it is a tremendous success; at the same time, we have progressed in other ratings and particularly in the Economic Freedom Index of the Frazer Institute, which in essence analyses 360 degrees of government performance in the surveyed countries and we have been promoted to 7th place from the previous 162nd ranking; Heritage Foundation has placed us at 16th place among 180 countries in its most renown rating; Open Budget Index, measuring the transparency of public funds, ranks us at 5th place. We have very significant progress in the international rating of private property. If in 2012 we were ranked 131st, currently we stand at 45th place. It is very important that Georgia gets annually advanced in the international rating of media freedom and if we used to be 104th some 6 years ago, today we are at 61st place. At the same time, key vision of our economic strategy is that Georgia should regain its historic role. It was always a regional economic and cultural hub. That is why we need to be most successful in international ratings. Our goal is to further improve these achievements and get Georgia into Top 5 of every single rating. At the same time, our very ambitious but attainable goal is to gain an investment rating for 2023, which is a key pre-requisite for getting Georgia into the list of developed economies.

None of the ratings, neigher any strategy has any sense if it does not serve the main goal - in our case - eradication of poverty and improved wellbeing of our citizens. We are a small economy, but have a clear vision on how to achieve all of this even within a small economy.

Updated Government Program, which is based on five principles, captures attainment of the civilization choice of Georgian people with dignity and honor as the first principle, as we crave to make Georgia a fully-fledged member of the European family, return to our European family and be a fully-fledged member and participant of the Euro-Atlantic space. This year has been truly special towards this end and I believe an utterly successful one.

I need to mention by all means a genuinely historic reform - we have adopted a new edition of the Constitution, according to which Georgia has shaped into a European parliamentary democracy. I believe that a parliamentary republic is the best model for making Georgia successful. It is a constitutional model for becoming a fully-fledged member of the European family. At the same time, Georgia has elected the first female president in 2018. I wish to once again congratulate Salome Zourabichvili with this victory of dignity and honor. I am confident that presidential institution will further assist us in achieving our goals.

Unfortunately, 20% of our territory is still occupied by the Russian Federation. It does not honor its commitments assumed back in 2008 and does not withdraw its occupation army from the Georgian territories. We routinely witness the so called borderisation process and laying of barbed wire. It is a very painful and pressing challenge. We use all the platforms to reach out to the international community and convey the message. Consolidation of the global society is most important for us to overcome this most painful challenge with a shared effort. I use every opportunity with my colleages to speak about it. You are well aware that I called for Russia at the United Nations General Assembly to honor its commitments assumed some ten years ago.

We remain very actively engaged in the peaceful policy. Our response to this most painful challenge is only peace and development. We have a clear action plan and a specific initiative branded as a Step towards a Better Future. It is fully supported by every international organization and every friendly nation. I will elaborate about it later on today.

Our foreign policy was particularly successful in 2018. I wish to first refer to the meeting held on November 21, within a format created specifically for Georgia as the most successful country in the Eastern Partnership. It was the first instance, when the President of the European Commission and his colleagues met our Government. We had a very specific discussion on how to make the integration of Georgia further more successful into the European family. I once again wish to remind you that Georgia is the only country, for which this format was created and my enormous gratitude goes to our European friends for this.

Particularly successful was 2018 in terms of interaction with the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO). It was once again noted at the Summit that Georgia complies with all the criteria, has all the mechanisms for being successful in this realm as well. I believe that 2019 will be even more successful. Georgia has never been so close to Europe and NATO before. It is a huge success and I wish to express my sincere gratitude to all people engaged in this process.

At the same time, relations with our strategic partner - USA - have never been so high and all-inclusive. High-level metings held recently have enabled us to open up completely new opportunities for our bilateral cooperation,

Truly historical document was prepared at the US Congress several days ago. It reflects practically all the challenges that are faced by our country and includes very specific support messages. It was very gratifying for us to get support for the consultations held for the introduction of free trade between Georgia and USA. I believe that 2019 will be even more successful in this regard.

At the same time, I wish to stress the very important relations developed with Germany, which advanced to a completely new level after the visit of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Germany is getting more actively engaged in our regional politics and we have specific economic project initiatives on how to develop these relations.

This year Georgia has selebrated 100th Anniversary from the establishment of its First Republic. Constitution of the First Georgian Republic is indeed something all Georgians should be proud of. I know the ideas of every European expert on this topic. Some 100 years ago, it was indeed Georgia that had the most progressive constitution and it once again underlines the civilization choice of our nation. It is not only our political choice to make Georgia a fully-fledged member of the European family. It is our civilization choice and our history evidences this very fact.

Poverty is an enemy of Georgia. It should be overcome with a shared effort. It is vital to mobilise the maximum energy to combat this challenge.

If we look at the structure of our economy, it clearly shows the area we greatly lag behind. Main source of poverty is the economic model, with which our country tried to develop its competitiveness and it did not turn out to be successful. Why?! Because, it had plenty of unfair rules of game. It was one of the first areas we tackled with changes. Indeed, we need a new economic model, which will be oriented at such type of economic growth and development, which will relate to each and every citizen of Georgia, each and every household. Poverty has turned into one of the main causes of an entirely irresponsible decision made in 2007 with which a problem of excessive indebtedness came to rise. It was one of the most pressing problems, which we faced. Rules that we introduced for future prevent the ever unfair capturing of our citizens in the so called Black List of Defaulting Debtors. However, what should have been done with the past? Almost over 600 000 people were in the referred Black List, which means that almost one third of our labor force got beyond the normal, civilized social or economic life. It is absolutely unimaginable. No economic reform would counter-effect this tremendous challenge and a huge fault. We took a very bold decision and started a truly unprecedented project. It is a one-off solidarity act, according to which our 600 000 citizens will celebrate the New Year's Eve with no debt and will be out of the Black List from January 1, 2019.

I wish to one again thank the Cartu Foundation. If not their support, we would have found it difficult to carry out this project. As of today, almost over 580 000 citizens have been removed from the Black List of Defaulting Debtors and as we promised the society, 600 000 households in Georgia will welcome 2019 with no debt.

Challenges naturally remain in this realm and we continue active work to timely address other similar problems.

Eradication of poverty in Georgia goes through the development of small and medium enterprises (SME). We had a very heavy legacy in this regard. Tax burden, i.e. taxes levied from large companies were smaller compared to that of the small ones. It was a huge obstacle for the development of SMEs in Georgia. It was a very big bottleneck and I would say a chronic pain of our tax system that stock of tax credits was to be refunded. It may be said that we indeed succeeded to do the impossible as one year ago nobody could imagine that over half a billion GEL of tax credits would be refunded to our taxpayers. By December 31 our entrepreneurs will be refunded almost half a billion GEL from the State Budget. It is indeed an unprecedented achievement. In 2018-2020 we plan to refund a billion and a half to our entrepreneurs. Absolutely unique tax incentives have been introduced for small businesses from this summer, which was an unprecedented reform. In almost a few months we reached very promising results: turnover has been doubled and this is not the end yet. I am confident that the reforms will lead to the increased number of small entrepreneurs in the country and next year they will at least double.

We have other innovative reforms as well. We are trying our best to reduce the bureaucracy. Georgia will be the first country to move to a single tax return template from January 1, 2019. We are keen to further reduce the tax rate especially for our small entrepreneurs. According to the recent studies, Georgia is among the Top 5 in the world with its lowest tax rates.

Our goal and an integral part of the economic strategy is to make Georgia into a regional economic hub and more innovative reforms are needed to achieve this goal.

We have already started and will by all means implement next year the so called e-residence tax reform, according to which citizens of 35 counties will be able to open bank accounts and incorporate businesses in Georgia without visiting the country. At the same time, we have a unique reform initiative, which will come into force from the beginning of the following year. According to it, trans-national companies that will open their headquarters, innovative centres, labs in Georgia will be given unique tax incentives to make sure that they get convinced in the viability of serving the rest of the world from Georgia.

We had a Tax and Customs Code that did not respond to current challenges in the economy of the country. Therefore, a very significant document has been drafted with an open platform with support of the Parliament of Georgia and from January 1, 2019 Georgia will have a new Customs Code, which fully complies with EU standards. At the same time, we are working on another very important document with an open platform - with our entrepreneurs, experts, international organizations. It is the Tax Code, which will be enforced from January 1, 2020 by all means.

Considering the small size of our economy, it is vital for us to ensure a more effective integration of the Georgian economy into the global one and we are truly the most successful country in this regard. Georgia is the only country in the region that has a free trade regime both with EU and China. At the same time, we have a free trade regime with all the neighbouring countries. It is important for us to develop trade relations with the EU. In this regard 2018 has been particularly successful. Only in EU our exports have been increased by 11% in the first 10 months of the current year.

A most important document is being signed in Paris today, on December 20. According to it, we are committing to fully adapt our legislation to the international arbitration. It means that Tbilisi will be the second city in Europe after Paris that will have a footage of an international commercial arbitration of the highest reputation. It will be a very big pre-requisite for turning Georgia into a regional economic hub.

Naturally, no economic reform will be successful if we do not have stability and security ensured in the country.

Reforms in the defense system of the country have been particularly successful in 2018 and it was well reflected in the Annual Summit of NATO and documents evidencing our progress. However, series of our reforms envisage much more and most importantly that we should do our best to avoid potential aggression and protection of the country.

I wish to particularly state the Total Defense Reform, which is very important pre-requisite for making Georgia more protected and successful. Our hero servicemen remain in international missions and carry out their duty and responsibility. It is Georgian soldiers that are considered as the most successful and professional servicemen. It is not only my assessment. It is what our partners think. We naturally continue this program, however wish to pay more time and more resources to the social security of our servicemen.

Several significant projects have already been implemented in the current year. I wish to particularly note the healthcare component. We launched a very vital healthcare facility for our soldiers in Kutaisi. Next year, with support of USA, we will be launching one of the strongest medical centres in Georgia. At the same time, we wish to make a special focus on other social projects. Wages will be increased to 7526 servicement commensurate to their military ranking in 2019-2020 and 1634 Georgian servicemen have got apartments in their title ownership.

Terrorism is the most pressing challenge for the global community. We follow the international media routinely and observe that this challenge is becoming more painful as time passes. I wish to note with pride that our institutions protecting the security of Georgia are truly superb in delivering their duties and every partner country acknoeledges their very high professionalism.

We took a decision and our policemen - 13 200 people - will get an increased salary. Very important social security projects are carried out at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Concessional residential housing projects are being implemented in 5 cities of the country - Tbilisi, Rustavi, Kutaisi, Batumi and Zugdidi.

Developments in recent weeks have once again demonstrated to the Georgian society that police is staffed with genuine professionals. We have high caliber professionalism at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Great dedication and patriotism is witnessed in protecting the core interests of Georgia. I wish to once again thank our policemen for the refrain and self-control - high degree of professionalism - demonstrated routinely to each of us, Georgian society.

Of course, it is the result of our most important reforms that we implement at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. We are oriented towards greater transparency and accountability towards general public. Very detailed statistical data and information is being released and each of us get a very clear picture of the progress and trend of our reforms.

I wish to touch upon a very important issue, which we inherited as a legacy. Investigation component was literally missing at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. It is hard to create one overnight of course, but we do not spare an effort to empower the Ministry of Internal Affairs with a very strong inestigation component.

Within the scope of a systemic crime, we have 3 key directions: investigation, operating and police activities oriented at the general public. Concept of a Public Order Officer is being introduced also.

At the same time, significant reforms are implemented in boder police system. We made significant investments in the infrastructure, including the marine border police. We have fruiteful cooperation with EU and USA in this regard. Our US partners have transferred to us 2 vessels of the Iseland class, which will considerably increase the capacity and resources of the marine border protection. Common service centre is operating successfully, which will be further improved in terms of quality of service. Very substantial investments have been made in modern technologies to increase the scope of coverage of video surveillance systems. Particular attention is made on the fight with criminal mentality and I am sure that current and next years will be very successful in this regard.

Special priority is made on the protection of human rights and capacity building of this component at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, which has created a dedicated unit as a Department of Human Right. All these success stories are witnessed and reflected in each rating, however nobody plans to get satisfied with this.

Engagement of the civil society and NGO sector has a decisive role in the building of democracy, especially for our democracy to ensure the right and harmonious development of the country.

Georgia chaired the Open Governance Partnership (OGP) in 2017-2018 and it was a great success, as open governance as a principle is an integral part of our political team and very essential component of our vision. We wish to be more successful in this regard. That is why, several days ago, when we hosted a key-note event of the Eastern Partnership in Georgia, I announced a new initiative: Government of Georgia, Parliament of Georgia, judiciary and local authorities can get together once or twice a year together with the civil society within the scope of OGP to once again get assured that we have high degree of coordination and reforms that we are implementing serve to their aims and goals defined by Georgia. I believe that this format enables us to be more successful in this very important endeavor.

Perception of justice is a key component of social peace. Trust towards authorities in frequent cases is conditioned by the lack or presence of this feeling. If we look at the history of Georgia, our people have unfortunately been living in an environment in the past 100 years whereby the state has either been oppressing or deceiving people. Politics deprived of interests of people and humanism is the hardest legacy of all and we inherited it from the past. I believe that throughout these 6 years Georgian Dream managed to have a break-through and enable the demostratic transformation of Georgia. It is evidenced by all the international ratings, litigation statistics and number of prisoners, however satisfaction with the achievements would be a grave error of any authority, because politics and democracy does not recognize a static mode. Democracy is binary - either people go forward or stay still and instantly feel the mode of stagnation. Within this context we of course plan very active reforms. We will ensure rule of law through democratic reforms and will gain justice in any case. We are sure that we will be particularly successful in this reform.

Human being has always been and will remain to be the main value for our political team. Since 2012, i.e. since Georgian Dream came to power, one of the first steps that we made was to significantly increase the budget allocations for healthcare and social security. This year we have actually reached a historic maximum and have allocated over one billion GEL for the healthcare sector. On the one hand, healthcare policy is focused on preventive measures, early diagnostics, but at the same time we try to further develop every other program and add new ones to our universal healthcare. Unprecedentadly successful was Georgia in fighting Hepatitis C. We are the only country nowadays that has all the preconditions to fully eliminate Hepatitis C. We have considerably increased our activities towards this end and - trust me - 2019 will be even more successful. We considerably adjusted our social security policy. UNICEF study has evidenced that we had significant faults towards this end. From the coming year, socially vulnerable households with children aged under 16 years, will get 50 GEL a month. Pensions will equal 200 GEL from the following year. People with disabilities and children will get social security allowances increased by 20 GEL. Residents of high terrain regions will also get an increased social security package. Support will be considerably increased for vulnerable households with many children. We will pay special attention to demographics. We have significant problems in demographics and will introduce programs to help the youth in overcoming the household problems and challenges with greater ease to ultimately address the demographic problems.

We had certain directions in the social policy that required improvements. I wish to particularly note the adjustment of great importance, which will be enacted from January 2019. Any beneficiary of social allowances will retain this support for one year if they get employed. I believe that this reform will help us in further reducing the unemployment level in Georgia.

We continue implementing very significant projects that aim to build residential blocks for our refuges and internally displaced people (IDPs). Already 491 IDP families have been given apartments in newly built residential blocks, while houses were purchased for 623 IDP families. Mortgage loans have been paid for 116 IDP households. Our program will be further more wide-scale in this regard in the coming year. We will give apartments to 1100 IDPs in 2019 and 1500 households will gain title ownership on current temporary places of residence, while almost 3000 IDP families will get new residential houses.

We reached a historic maximum in the infrastructure sector last year, while 2019 will bring much more results. We launched very substantial projects in 2018 and namely 18 km Kobuleti Bypass Road was built with one of its bridges being truly unique engineering construction. Next year we will launch active construction works at Grigoleti-Choloki fragment of the highway. Significant and most sophisticated engineering projects will be launched at Rikoti Gordge, which is one of the most painful spots for our infrastructure. We need competitive infrastructure and I am confident that Rikoti Gorge will boost the competitiveness of the country after the implementation of this project. I mean the construction of both railway and motorway, which will ensure the safe traffic all year round. I wish to particularly note one more project, which will greatly help us in developing tourism in Stepantsminda. Construction of the access road to Gergeti Trinity has been completed. Flow of tourists is endless and I am especially proud of it. It evidences that infrastructure projects lead to economic development.

If we summarise our performance in 2018, rehabilitation has been carried out at 210 km roads, 20 bridges and completed 17 coastline reinforcement projects. This year we will complete construction of the most wide-scale glacier - almost 2 km tunnel, which was truly vital for us. Economy of Georgia was missing over a million of GEL when we failed to get the traffic going due to the blocked road. This problem has been once and for all addressed for Georgia. At the same time, quite complex Tskneti-Betania motorway has been built with European standards and all the faults that the previous project had were taken into account. Ultimately, we will complete all the infrastructure projects that are related to the economic prosperity of Georgia in the coming years and namely through 2022 to make sure that infrastructure no longer serves as a barrier for the development of the economy of Georgia.

I wish to touch upon a very important project, which has been implemented together with the Municipality of Tbilisi. Construction of an overground metro will be launched in the capital city of the country from 2019 and Tbilisi will get 8 new metro stations. We will carry out this project instead of the one, which was labled as a Tbilisi Bypass Railway, which was absolutely unconceptualised and unacceptable in terms of its engineering. Instead of that project, Tbilisi will acquire a truly historic project of its scale and magnitude. In several months we will know the findings of the Feasibility Study on how to build the new segment and connect Tbilisi with Rustavi via metro. It will be a project of truly historic importance and I am keen to carry it our in the coming four years by all means.

In parallel with infrastructure, we should by all means single out those sectors of the economy that are developing with vivid success. Of course tourism has turned into a driving force of our economy. In the first 10 months of the year over 8 million tourists and visitors have come to Georgia. It is an increase of the previous indicator by 11%. Hotels are opening in almost every corner of Georgia. It is particularly important for us to develop our regions through tourism. Every region of the country should feel the economic prosperity of Georgia. At the same time, we are starting new projects in tourism, development of new attractions to enable for the inflow of more tourists from EU.

Environment and green policy has special importance for us. Deficit is globally witnessed in the supply of eco-friendly products and I believe that Georgia is among the countries with highest prospects to supply the environmentally clean products to consumers throughout the world. We had very bad legacy in this regard, which was very heavily reflected on many of our citizens, especially in large cities. New regulations that we introduced are intended for addressing this problem by all means. Moreover, projects that we intend for agriculture - to set tax examptions for the production of organic food production - will make Georgia a leader in terms of an eco-friendly agriculture industry.

Mountains have a special importance to us. Law on Highlands has led to positive results to the residents of high terrain regions. We plan to further increase the budget allocations towards this end. State Budget for 2019 implies higher earmarkings and we wish to make greater investments within the scope of the referred Law. I believe that the developed strategy will be very successful, as it is based on the best international practice and namely Austrian and Swiss cases. I wish to particularly thank the Austrian and Swiss authorities for their support provided in the joint endeavor and development of the Highlands Development Strategy.

Historic and cultural heritage is a special asset for us. Nothing more valuable exists indeed. It is a truly great past and we are so proud of it. Protection of monuments is the most significant priority of our government. A lot has been done towards this end in the recent years and naturally this will be continued in future as well. We highly regard the reform implemented for the merger of Ministries of Education, Science and Culture. We often hear a question on the key incentives and reasons for this. Of course, we had an argument of structural optimization as we needed smaller government, however we also had a very important argument on its substance, as we believe that a strong education sector, traditions and strong culture based society, sports and healthy lifestyle is the combination of values that will enable us to always raise strong generations in Georgia to shape up a strong society and respectively - a strong state.

I wish to say a few words about the agriculture sector. I have heard a lot of criticism about it having no future in Georgia and about huge investments made in vain. I wish to remind you all that almost half of our population is engaged in agriculture activities. It literally applies to every second person in the country, who have significant social problems. Export of our agriculture produce this year will exceed one billion. It is the best answer to the sceptics, claiming that agriculture in Georgia has no future. It does, provided we get most effective in pursuing our policy. Harvest this year was the best and most successful in the history of independent Georgia. At the same time, it was the best year in terms of wine export, however we have very pressing challenges as well. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) made us suffer a lot last year, though with lessons learned our condition is much better this year. I believe that we will ultimately cope with this most pressing challenge in 2020. BMSB turned out to be most painful for our compatriots living in Abkhazia.

I wish to go back to our peace initiative branded as a Step to a Better Future. We are oriented towards peace policy, building of bridges, integration, people-to-people relations. This peace initiative fully responds and meets 100% of interests of those people, who currently live on the other side of the occupion line. With a shared effort we should overcome and stop the humanitarian disaster that is witnessed at the occupied territories of Georgia. We need to make sure that our citizens in occupied territories gain access to healthcare services, education, and basic entrepreneurship to feed and support their families. We need active support of our friendly nations and international organizations. I am confident that we will essentially manage to carry out the most significant peace initiative in the coming years.

I wish to single out a significant project as I am asked one and the same question in every village I visit - when shall we have natural gas? With our effort, almost 80% of our population are already supplied with natural gas to their households. In a few weeks ago I launched a project in Adjarian Highlands and local residents are now getting natural gas. Years back nobody could imagine it ever to reach Adjarian Highlands.

I am also asked what will be the next reform in Georgia. Following large reform in the country will be carried out in the education sector. The greatest wealth and asset that Georgia has is its citizens. Greatly talented and creative people live in this country. Unfortunately, funding was the smallest in the education system of Georgia since regaining its independence. It was a very sad trend, which has most negatively affected our economic prospects at the same time. We plan to change it all. In 2019 we intend to launch a reform, according to which education sector will become dominant in our economy, i.e. its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product will reach at least 10-11% and investments will be tripled. We have come up with a reform, according to which 5 tiers of education have been identified: pre-school, general schooling, tertiary, degree education and science. We should make sure that our economy spends 10-11% of GDP on all five tiers of education. This is the solution to make sure that Georgia joins the category of developed economies. I am confident that this reform will be the way to overcome the main problem. I am confident that this reform will bring the expectation to help us make our economy completely different to overcome all the challenges existing in the country, unemployment, poverty and limited scope of performance of our citizens. It is the most difficult task. Of course, we will not be able to address the issue only through the reform of education sector, however it is the effort that will serve as the main engine of drive. Significant steps have been made towards this end when submitting a Draft State Budget for 2019 to the Parliament of Georgia. However, this is only the start. Our initiative will lead to education sector gaining 10-11% share of GDP.

I cannot help stressing the very significant success achieved at the Frankfurt Book Fair. It was a truly remarkable day for every Georgian, when we maned to demonstrate our very rich culture to the entire Europe. We need more such key-note events to let the world nations see vividly the input and contribution made by Georgia in the development of the world civilization. Here as well, we will be further more active.

I wish to touch upon sports and healthy living standards. 2018 turned out to be truly fascinating and unexpected even to me, irrespective of my great admiration of sports. Over 800 medals have been gained by our celebrated sportsmen and I wish to thank them all in particular. There is no other precedent in the world, when a small nation has such abundance of success. It is a truly unprecedented achievement. Of course, it is also due to the fact that our investments to Georgian sports have been tripled, however much more is needed. Every child and adolescent should have access to sports infrastructure in every corner of the country. We have hosted truly significant sports events in the country. I wish to single out a few: Chezz Olimpics of course. We are proud of our glorious past in this medium of sports and Olimpics this year should be a new page, a new start, a new breath and energy. We hosted very important events in the country. Georgia is actively getting established in the sports map of the world as a country that can hold any sports event with great dignity and honor. I wish to underline the truly unique achievements of our paraolimpics in 2018. I need to stress that we were equally successful both in team and individual tournaments. I do not wish to miss anyone, but at the same time I cannot help mentioning several of them. Striking success has been achieved in team tournaments. Our rugby players, footballers, basketball players were particularly pleasing the hearts of their fans. Unique achievements have been attained in individual sports. Tochinoshin deserves special gratitude for the promotion of Georgia as he won the Emperor's cup. Our wrestlers and judo players reached outstanding results in 2018 and we are all very proud of course that the strongest human on this globe is Lasha Talakhadze. I am confident that such success stories will let us reach out to the main goal and will let us find solution to our national cravings, two of the most pressing challenges that I started with. We need more victories.

State Budget resources of Georgia in 2019-2020 will reach 27 billion GEL. Of course this will not be enough to overcome every problem in the country, but it is a sifnificant pool for easing conditions to our citizens and for helping the creation of new opportunities in our economy and infrastructure to develop at greater speed, to be more active and successful in our reforms. We thus need more effective governance system. We continue the reform of our public service and modernization of public administration system. We should by all create such a governance system that will address the problems faced by our citizens in the shortest period of time. These resources are available and should be primarily be used for the wellbeing of our citizens. We should timely bring this benefit to our citizens and have a targeted communication and feedback with our citizens. It is our absolute priority.

I wish to once again thank you all. Let me also use this opportunity to wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year with abundance of happiness. I want to wish my homeland great success and victories in 2019!