Government said it would allocate from 2012 state budget total of GEL 162.3 million for an immediate and long-term relief efforts after heavy rains, strong winds, hail and flooding overnight on July 19 wreaked havoc on housing and crop lands in eastern region of Kakheti and in some other provinces of the country.
Parliament will approve draft of budgetary amendments, envisaging allocation of these funds, as well as some other changes not related to relief efforts, on July 25.
According to the draft of budgetary amendments funding for relief efforts and for other unrelated changes will mainly come from several sources – by cutting funding for various ministries; GEL 11 million coming from “savings” accumulated from external debt service and GEL 39 million, which will be redirected from regional projects fund.
The government also counts within this GEL 162.3 million for relief efforts GEL 80 million from World Bank loan, which was allocated for Kakheti regional development project and which has already been part of the state budget.
For the purpose of ongoing and immediate relief efforts, such as repairing damaged houses, providing food items to disaster-hit households and distributing monetary compensations for damaged crops, the government is setting up a GEL 50 million temporary special fund.
Government plans to provide households whose farmlands have been completely destroyed with financial compensation from GEL 1,300 to GEL 1,500 each; households who have lost 70-80% of their crops will receive from GEL 800 to Gel 900 and the third category will involve families who have lost half of their crops and they will receive from GEL 300 to Gel 500 in compensations. PM Vano Merabishvili said on July 24, that registration of households that will become eligible for these compensations should be over within next ten days and after that distribution of funds would be launched.
The government’s aid package also includes assistance to those farmers who have bank loans and whose farmlands have been destroyed; the government plans to pay interest rate of these loans for a period of one year. Deputy Finance Minister Papuna Petriashvili said on July 24, that the government was currently working with banks on a scheme under which this aid would be implemented and no exact figures were yet available.
Planned budgetary amendments also envisage allocating additional Gel 2.1 million to local budgets of those municipalities of the Kakheti region, which have been hit by the strong wind, hail and flooding.
Funding of the following ministries will be cut by total of GEL 42.7 million:
Funding of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure will receive GEL 6 million additional funding, making its 2012 total funding GEL 982 million.
While meeting with lawmakers from an opposition Unity for Justice faction to present the proposed draft of budgetary amendments on July 24, Deputy Finance Minister Papuna Petriashvili had to listen lots of criticism from opposition MPs about spending from reserve funds. Presidential and governmental reserve funds were originally designed to allocate funding in case of emergency situations. GEL 50 million was allocated for each of these funds for current fiscal year. The Deputy Finance Minister told the opposition lawmakers that out of total of GEL 100 million about GEL 60 million had been spent so far from these funds. When pressed to submit detailed information about spending, the Deputy Finance Minister told MPs that these data would be presented to the Parliament by the ministry as part of its regular quarterly reports by the end of this month.
In other planned changes in the 2012 state budget, which are not related to relief efforts, the government intends, according to the Deputy Finance Minister, to allocate total of GEL 6 million for registration of unemployed citizens and for newly announced program on needs assessment survey for internally displaced families.
The government announced earlier this month about the plan to recruit and train 3,000 registrants, or as they will be called “employment agents”, who will then visit households across the country to register unemployed citizens. Government said on July 10 that the move was part of its efforts to create detailed data base of unemployed citizens to then help them with training and employment.
Another program, announced by the Ministry of IDPs from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees on July 23, envisages compiling a detailed needs assessment survey, which according to the ministry in charge of IDPs, will improve its communication with displaced families, as well as will help in identifying “concrete information about the existing needs of IDPs.”
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