An interview with Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Social Affairs Dmitry Khundadze
Recent opinion polls have shown that the majority of the population considers high unemployment, hiked prices and poverty the most serious problem. What can you say in this regard, as the chairman of the relevant committee? Whether unemployment has grown?
In Georgia, as well as throughout the world, the problem of unemployment is acute, but I cannot agree that its level rose. I can only confirm that the number of jobs is not growing. When 10-12% of the population is socially disadvantaged, the government has no right to calm down. Besides, if we take into account the Gruzstat latest data showed that the population of the country has reduced from 4.4 million as it was assumed earlier, to 3.7 million. So it turns out that the percentage of socially unprotected population is growing.
In addition, the number of retirees is growing approximately by 20%. The currency crisis had a particularly severe impact on the category of the population, which has no other income than pensions and state benefits. The government does a lot to support these people – for example, it launched the program of universal health care and other projects which cost hundreds of millions. If not these projects, the monetary crisis would had had even more negative impact on this category of the population.
But many criticize the government just for the socially oriented budget, as well as the adoption of the regulations for businesses. In your opinion, is the current economic policy correct?
It is absolutely correct, because for many of our citizens it is actually the only mean of survival. Half of the population had no health insurance, and at the same time had no help from the state. Mortality grew, the number of abortions increased over the past 12 years, and only recently reduced to 9 000. Now Georgia has the highest birth rate in Europe. Human health is priceless, and if we are not able to preserve the gene pool and to stop the decline in the population, then all other projects will be meaningless.
What prevented the creation of jobs – the objective circumstances or a lack of efficiency of the government?
Job creation needs political stability, the inflow of investment. And constructiveness of our opponents is very important for this. Constant statements about growing criminality and the government’s incompetence adversely affect the country’s image and deter investors. Jobs are created not by the law but business and investment, which need stability while the creation of apocalyptic expectations harms economic development.
For example, the statements made by ex-president do not effect positively. Although, the government should be more active and effective. I am confident that the current economic team will be able to cope with the currency crisis, though of course, this will require a lot of effort.