President Saakashvili said that although much still needed to be done, the government was keeping its promises and following through on its so-called 50-day action plan.
“For many Georgians the expectations of the Rose Revolution have not yet been delivered upon and many Georgians are frustrated… So my life's goal is: Georgia without poverty. This is much more for me than just a slogan… This is a vision, which should determine my second and, in accordance with the constitution, my last presidential term,” he said on March 31.
Saakashvili said that after his re-election in January he had promised to lay out an action plan for 50 days. “We have emphasized three major directions [within the plan]: an increase in pensions… cheap credit to help create new jobs and help for villages,” Saakashvili said. “50 days passed last week and now I am here to keep my promise and report to the people about what we [the authorities] have done.”
He said that the government had kept its promise and, from April, increased the minimum monthly pension from GEL 55 to GEL 70. “This is of course not enough, but this is a good beginning,” Saakashvili said. “At the same time we have developed a precise plan on what steps we should undertake in order to have a minimum monthly pension of USD 100 [GEL 147 at current rates] by 2009.”
He said that unemployment was the greatest challenge facing the country and the government had accordingly launched, in cooperation with private banks, a program to provide cheap credit to help create new enterprises and new jobs.
As part of the government’s efforts to help alleviate rural poverty, he said 350 new tractors had been imported for farmers and 20 liters of diesel fuel had been distributed free-of-charge to families in rural areas.
Although he appreciated the efforts of the prime minister, Lado Gurgenidze, and his new cabinet, Saakashvili said “I am still telling the cabinet: this is not enough and I am not satisfied.” “I travel throughout Georgia and see how much we have to do to achieve our goal: Georgia without poverty,” he added.
“What we do in the next 50 days, months and next years is now important,” he said. “I have asked the government to work on reform of the social assistance program in order to make social allowances more just and fair... I will report on the achievements in 50 days.”