Speech Delivered by Giorgi Gakharia, Nominee Prime Minister of Georgia at the Plenary Session of the Parliament Print Version

2020-12-24

It will not be easy to work without discussions and opposition and we will need to do our best to overcome a problem related to the political context of Georgia, so that this part of the plenary chamber gets filled in the nearest future. It is the ambition of the ruling team. It is the demand and instruction of our citizens, which defined 9 political parties and 60 opposition mandates to be in this parliament. It was stated by Giorgi Gakharia, Nominee Prime Minister of Georgia in his speech delivered today at the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia. Voting on the endorsement of the nominated cabinet will be held today.

Giorgi Gakharia noted that it is not comfortable to be in the plenary chamber without the opposition, as any right decision should be primarily taken through a healthy debate and discussion.

"Today we are meeting within the format of a plenary session and of course it is our great honor and responsibility to talk here about the future plans of the Government of Georgia. Sadly, we need to note that the plenary chamber of the parliament is half full for a simple reason - opposition party representatives are absent. Journalists were asking today, whether we feel comfortable when only one party is in the parliament and opposition is absent from the plenary sessions or when the government is being endorsed by the parliament of a single party. Of course, this is not comfortable and I can explain why. Apart from being uncomfortable for us, we understand that any right decision should primarily be taken through a healthy debate and discussion. We have had a very good experience of this in the past years. We were never scared of a substantial discussion and talk, but leaving our comfort aside, citizens of the country do not find it comfortable either as they voted for 9 political parties to enter the legislature and defined that 60 opposition mandates to be distributed among them. It is the most important and comfort of the government members is irrelevant. Sadly, today we have the current reality. Some got scared of the responsibility, some - got lost and some could not overcome their ego. However, we are witnessing the result and we should all understand it well that it doubles the responsibility of the authorities. Most important here is the attitude - either all or nothing. It is not a democratic mindset and has nothing to do with European manner of thinking. Nevertheless, even if we stay on our own in this hall, we should continue our stride towards a European future" noted Giorgi Gakharia.

The Nominee Prime Minister of Georgia spoke in detail about the Government Program labeled as For Building a European State.

"Government Program For Building a European State includes 4 key directions. First one is economic advancement, second one is social policy and human capital management, third one is foreign policy, security, conflict resolution and human rights, fourth one is among the most important - public administration. We need to underline here that these are the structural challenges and problems of the State, which will need to be addressed by anyone in the authorities. These are big changes. These challenges within this program will not be witnessed by anyone. First and most important part of our program is economic advancement of the country. When we talk about economic development, we all understand that the current structural challenge and problem of the State is to overcome poverty. One of the healthiest methods for doing it is job creation, of course. Free and strong Georgian business should create jobs and one of the natural and effective environments of operation is a free market" noted the Nominee Prime Minister.

Giorgi Gakharia underlined that the private sector is the driving force, which should maintain jobs during the pandemic and then create new, additional employment opportunities.

"Nevertheless, we have said on numerous occasions that social responsibility of a successful and strong Georgian business and private sector at large is the main and significant component, which should attract more and more attention. Macroeconomic stability is one of the most important components of an environment supporting the development in the private sector and businesses. It is currently seriously challenged under the global pandemic and resulting global economic crisis. You may well be aware that macroeconomic indicators of the State Budget of Georgia are seriously challenged and we need to do our best to make sure that they get back to the starting point and standard existing in 2020 within the next 3-4 years. Fiscal consolidation will be utterly important to achieve this goal, thus assigning a huge responsibility to the Ministry of Finance and its qualitative and effective performance. Same applies to the legislature, as we will have to take certain legislative measures to make our taxation system more effective" noted the Nominee Prime Minister.

In the opinion of Giorgi Gakharia, legislative initiatives will be required to make the taxation system more effective in the country.

"We will have to take legislative initiatives to make our taxation system more effective. We currently have a lot of concessions, which are no longer effective. We will need to revisit them with greater scrutiny so that they make them stronger wherever possible and get them voided in the majority of cases, as effectiveness of these tax concessions is questioned nowadays. Also, we will have to revisit some Tax Agreements together with this parliament. We may say today that steps need to be taken against the malpractices. When the legal framework of taxation is streamlined, when all the opportunities exist for businesses to use the tools of dispute resolution, mediation and others, time has come to seriously revisit the Tax Agreements in the prism of effectiveness and fairness of relations between the State and businesses" noted Giorgi Gakharia.

As the Nominee Prime Minister has mentioned, everything should be done for finding the best use of state-owned resources and their quick engagement in economic performance.

"You may well be aware that deployment of land resources in the economy has been jeopardized by many different problems in recent years, though previous convocation of the parliament managed to establish a legislative order in the area of land ownership and management. It happened through legislative amendments and we may be bolder today and act more decisively towards this end" noted Giorgi Gakharia.

According to him, minerals require a much more decisive approach and effective programs to make sure that state-owned resources are deployed with a greater pace.

"As we talked yesterday, we need to do everything possible to make sure that state-owned resources get engaged in the economic performance as soon as possible. You may well be aware that we started a program of a systemic land registration, which should be completed in the nearest 3 years. Main aim and goal of this program is to accomplish a title ownership registration on land once and for all, thereby making these land resources engaged in economic performance as quickly and effectively as possible. Also, we need a much more effective approach towards minerals. We need effective programs to make sure that state-owned resources get deployed as soon as possible" noted the Nominee Prime Minister.

At the same time, Giorgi Gakharia noted that a program ensuring access to universal healthcare will be continued further and its ultimate goal will be to make sure that socially vulnerable and needy citizens no longer pay out of pocket for treatment or medication under the healthcare management system of the country.

Second part of the Government Program is all about social policy and human capital management. It is not accidental to collate these two directions under one umbrella, added the Nominee Prime Minister.

In his opinion, this domain covers healthcare, social security and education, as the prime duty of the State is to care for the socially vulnerable and needy, elderly and all others, who require support.

"That is why the state policy towards the healthcare and social security of our citizens will be consistent and a logical continuation of what was launched in the last 8 years. Nevertheless and in parallel with this, when we refer to education and human capital management, we need to understand that every person able to feed and develop his or her family with decent work, should get equitable and competitive conditions by the State. It is our most important duty. Of course, it starts with the right of education and that is why a reform in the education sector is one of the most important components of human capital management" added the Nominee Prime Minister.

As for healthcare and social security, Giorgi Gakharia believes that the main task of the Government of Georgia will be to continue the policy, which was started and resulted in the universal access to healthcare.

"This program will be continued and its ultimate goal will be to avoid out-of-pocket payments by our citizens, particularly the socially vulnerable and needy. This applies to medication and healthcare management. Thus, universal healthcare will remain to be a priority and its reform will be continued in the part, which requires it. Primary healthcare is particularly important towards this end and it was clearly demonstrated in the fight with COVID pandemic, whereby the primary healthcare turned out to be utterly important if not the most important in the fight with this challenge. Social allowances will remain a priority in terms of improving the assessment methodology and payment of such allowances. The Ministry of Health has already started to work towards this end. Sadly, pandemic has delayed its completion. Nevertheless, this goal will be fully accomplished in 2021 and our citizens will witness a more accurate methodology for defining the degree of targeting the socially vulnerable population. Improved measurements will be used as well for setting the volume of support and we are already discussing it" noted Giorgi Gakharia.

According to him, the most important duty of the State is to care for its elderly. Giorgi Gakharia added that the Government of Georgia managed to assure the increased pension payments at the legislative level, avoiding it to be an issue of political speculation.

"You may well be aware that together with the previous convocation of the parliament, we managed to assure the increased pension payments at the legislative level, avoiding it to be an issue of political speculation. It was a good, right, brave and strong decision, which ensured the increased pension payments to our age pensioners. We may argue whether it is sufficient or not. Of course, it is not enough, though we can say straight that this is linked with the success and economic growth of the country" added the Nominee Prime Minister.

According to Giorgi Gakharia, 13 000 new units in residential blocks will be granted to internally displaced households in coming years.

"When we talk about the social security programs, we should never forget our internally displaced persons. Irrespective of the fact that housing in dozens of thousands have been allocated to them in recent years, 13 000 new units within residential blocks will be granted to them in coming years. It is our duty shared between each citizen and State and we will take care of our IDPs wherever required" added the Nominee Prime Minister.

Giorgi Gakharia focused in his speech on the significance of education and human capital.

"Prudent management of human capital is one of the opportunities existing in the conditions of a global competition, whereby the future generation gets equipped with knowledge that will open up new avenues to them and turn them competitive at international and global markets for their ultimate success" added the Prime Minister of Georgia.

According to him, it is one of the most important components of the reform implemented in the education system, which is predominantly based on general schooling and teachers are a central part of it.

"Qualified teacher with a qualitatively decent remuneration is the only way for achieving the first results in a few years within the reform of general schooling. As for vocational education, we may expect results much sooner, as invested resources will yield results much earlier. Our goal in this segment of the education system is to match the labor market demand with the skillset produced by the vocational education and significant progress has been achieved in this realm. We need to do our best in higher education to make sure that our degrees get directly linked with the international higher education system, and European among them in the first case. Kutaisi International University (KIU) is one of the best examples of private investments not only in Georgia, but throughout Europe. We need to do our best to make sure that private investments get most attracted to the higher education system" noted Giorgi Gakharia.

The Nominee Prime Minister of Georgia paid particular attention to the occupation and stated that rational policy tailored to the interests of the country is the only opportunity to reinstate the territorial integrity of the country in a peaceful manner and no development of a country is complete without it.

Giorgi Gakharia spoke about a key chapter of the Government Program, which is the foreign policy, security, conflict resolution and human rights.

"Apart from being a duty, it is also a necessity to start this chapter with occupation. Democratic development of the country, its security and human rights are the basis and foundation for a practical implementation of further European orientation of Georgia and occupation is one of such prerequisites. Thus, we should all understand that a rational policy tailored to the sovereign interests of the country is the only possibility for reinstating territorial integrity in a peaceful manner. Without it, as mentioned at numerous occasions, development of Georgia will be limited in any direction. Moreover, when we talk about occupation, we not only refer to the occupation of Georgian lands, we talk about our citizens and their human resources, their development prospects. Our country is limited in development in any area and any sector - starting from the economy and continuing with culture - with those 20%, which are occupied in Georgia. Hence, any format acceptable for the political interests of the country - bilateral or multilateral - should be deployed with a full engagement of our international partners to achieve the main and prime goal of ours and ultimately reinstate the territorial integrity of Georgia. First of all, we should increase pressure on Russia to make sure that it honors the internationally recognized commitments and extension of the EU Monitoring Mission mandate throughout Georgia. Primarily I mean the occupied territories, as it is the only opportunity to basically establish a tool of human rights protection for our citizens living on the other side of the occupation line" added the Nominee Prime Minister.

Giorgi Gakharia also focused his attention to the peace-keeping missions. He noted that work on the peace initiative will be continued and primarily for restoring the bridges and trust between our citizens, with our Abkhaz and Ossetian brothers.

"Work will progress towards the peace initiative initially for restoring bridges and trust between our citizens, with our Abkhaz and Ossetian brothers. It is our main goal and the most appropriate and quickest road to the restoration of territorial integrity and - what is most important - trust in our country" noted Giorgi Gakharia, Nominee Prime Minister of Georgia.

He believes that international partners should be fully engaged in the restoration of territorial integrity in Georgia and in policy making towards this end.

"Attitude of the Government of Georgia will be more structured. We all need a common, shared policy towards the occupied territories. Policy, which will engage all the institutions that have a direct interaction and link with the resolution of this problem, should comprise the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Ministry of Reconciliation and applicable agencies, Ministry of Internal Affairs and others. It should be a structured, consolidated policy. Attitude of Georgia towards reinstating the territorial integrity of the country and policymaking should fully engage our international partners" added the Nominee Prime Minister of Georgia.

According to Giorgi Gakharia, creation of a safe environment in the country is the fundamental issue for the development of our citizens in any area, be that business, culture or sports.

"With an aim of creating a safe environment, common system of justice, analysis-based criminal justice and - what is most important - inevitability of a sentence in all these directions is the main component, which should be ensured by the entire law-enforcement system" noted Giorgi Gakharia.

The Nominee Prime Minister of Georgia focused his attention on the significance of compatibility of the Georgian army with NATO forces and noted that availability of mobile, effective military forces in the country is the goal, which is effectively pursued by the Ministry of Defense of Georgia.

"We all need to understand that availability of mobile, effective military forces in the country is the goal, which is effectively pursued by the Ministry of Defense of Georgia. You may well be aware that most resourceful and intensive exercises were held in the last 2 years, whereby the Georgian army demonstrated that it is capable of performing at an equal level, in line with European and Euro-Atlantic and NATO standards in any conditions and our servicemen have proven this in peacekeeping missions. Georgian military will continue engagement in the peacekeeping missions to primarily play its role in the establishment of international security and have more opportunities to get approximated to NATO standards" added the Nominee Prime Minister of Georgia.

According to Giorgi Gakharia, politically neutral and effective police, independent prosecution, army and state security service is the infrastructure, which ensures the security and safe environment in the country.

"Politically neutral and effective police, independent prosecution, army and state security service is the infrastructure, which ensures the security and safe environment in the country. We all need to understand that socially secure and assured policemen, fire-fighters, army officers are the backbone of the state, which should serve as a basis for national security" noted Giorgi Gakharia.

The Nominee Prime Minister of Georgia paid special attention to the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the country.

"When we talk about the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the country, it is a choice made by our citizens. They have been indicating this choice in social opinion polls for years. Most important here is that it is a value-based choice made by our citizens. It is what gives us a possibility to say that European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Georgia is an irreversible direction and choice. Hence, we all understand it well that cooperation with NATO in every format until the fully-fledged membership into the alliance will be a top priority of any government in Georgia.

I mean European and Euro-Atlantic integration and we need to do our best to make sure that within this cooperation Georgia acquires greater importance in various dimensions. Currently, such a crucial dimension is the Black Sea Security and role of the country in the security dimension at large, within the security infrastructure of the Black Sea region" noted Giorgi Gakharia.

The Nominee Prime Minister believes that strategic partnership with the USA makes the security of the country stronger, enables our defense forces to improve their capabilities and supports the process of democracy in Georgia.

"When we talk about the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the country, the main focus should be made on our strategic partnership with the USA. We all need to understand that this strategic partnership makes the security of the country stronger, enables our defense forces to annually improve their capabilities and supports the process of democracy in Georgia. These are most important and crucial. They need to advance to the higher level in coming years to grow into the economic dimension. Cooperation in this field and Free Trade Agreement will be utterly important. We may confess that initially it will be more a political message for the region and the country, but let me assure you that gradually this agreement and economic dimension of strategic partnership will be increased more with the time" noted Giorgi Gakharia.

He also noted that when irresponsible politicians fail to conceptualize their share of responsibility and when they do not engage in the development of the country, the public sector should protect the interests of citizens and stay politically absolutely neutral.

"Strong public administration with qualified and - what is most important - honest civil servants becomes predominantly significant. It is because the State has a most ambitious plan. It is aimed at bringing the country to such standards by 2024, which will let us make a bold and - what is most important - legitimate application for a fully-fledged membership into the EU. It is one portion of the equation. The other portion is that for the achievement of this ambitious goal, the country will require to carry out most crucial and important reforms every year, which will be impossible without effective, honest and qualified civil servants. Second part is that we have the most democratic, European governance system nowadays in the country. Parliamentary democracy is almost proportional and the election system will be fully proportional from 2024. Qualified and honest civil servants have a central role in this system. It is the only possibility when irresponsible politicians fail to understand their share of responsibility and when they do not engage in the development of the country. Public service is the sector, which should protect the interests of our citizens and stay politically absolutely neutral. Otherwise, any political irresponsiveness will have a direct impact on the life of our citizens. Public sector and civil servants are the dimension in our State, which comprises people, who ensure the daily wellbeing of our citizens. Therefore, we should do our best to make a civil servant - honest and competent at the same time - most rewarded and when we talk about their social security and increased remuneration, we need to act boldly as it is the foundation of our statehood" noted Giorgi Gakharia.

He also believes that even when some got scared, others got lost or failed to overcome their ambitions and placed narrow party ambitions above the national interests, the country will not stop developing and authorities will not be provoked by their irresponsive actions.

Giorgi Gakharia noted that 2021 and especially its second half will be for recovering the economic potential of the country, when Georgia will succeed in making its important message in the global post-COVID economic competition both within the region and globally.

"We have to work, perform, take action in an unordinary environment. Global pandemic and development of events in the region, global economic crisis and all those political challenges and process of democracy, which is witnessed in the country in a rather difficult manner are all part of it. Our voters have instructed us to jointly respond to all these challenges" added the Nominee Prime Minister.

In the opinion of Giorgi Gakharia, it is sad that opposition is absent in the plenary session of the parliament, as "together" and "jointly" means a healthy discussion and debate. Truth and the right way are always easier born in the debate.

"Irrespective of the fact that some got scared, others got lost or failed to overcome their ambitions and placed narrow party ambitions above the national interests, the country will not stop developing and authorities will not be provoked by their irresponsive actions. Reasons are quite simple and these are not mere words. We work every single day to address specific challenges. These are jobs, social vulnerability, IDPs, elderly and pensioners. When we talk here without the opposition, we all need to understand it well that our responsibility doubles. It is a higher responsibility for a very simple reason. Share of responsibility assumed towards our citizens, which should have rested on their shoulders, gets assumed by us and we have an absolutely clear understanding of it. From this standpoint we may say it simply - if you are not helping us in the most pressing times for our country, during the real global crisis, do not interfere at least with simple things. Nobody is against critical thinking and nobody is afraid of criticism, but do not interfere with your destructive actions, which are aimed against the State, rather than a specific political power. We vividly see steps that are directly aimed at delegitimizing the State, rather than only public institutions. When done for achieving narrow political interests, it becomes utterly risky not only for a specific party, but for the future of the country, especially when we are addressing challenges and problems during a global pandemic and world-wide economic crisis. Irrespective of all these, I wish to assure you that 2021 and especially its second half will be for recovering the economic potential of the country, when Georgia will succeed in making its important message in the global post-COVID economic competition both within the region and globally" concluded Giorgi Gakharia.

Press Service of the Government Administration