Parliament started discussion of a new bill on the status of internally displaced people (IDPs) envisaging, among other issues, increase of monthly allowance for IDPs to GEL 45 and introducing income threshold as criteria for eligibility for this assistance.
Those IDPs with taxable income of at least GEL 1,250 per month (for example a monthly salary which after paying 20% income tax is GEL 1,000) will no longer be eligible to monthly allowance, according to the bill drafted by the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees (MRA).
Number of those IDPs, who will fall under this category, now stands at 6,892, according to the MRA and Finance Ministry.
Minister in charge of IDP issues, Davit Darakhvelidze, told lawmakers during a hearing of parliamentary committee for budget and finances on November 26 that Finance Ministry’s revenue service will share information from its data base of income tax payers with MRA so that in case a person with IDP status with over GEL 1,250 taxable income loses a job, he or she will become eligible for GEL 45 monthly allowance.
Currently blanket allowance for everyone with the status of IDP is in practice.
IDPs, who live in collective centers (these are mostly state-owned buildings), receive GEL 22 monthly allowance from the state and those living in private accommodation – GEL 28. About 80% of IDPs live in private accommodation.
In addition, the state allocates funds to partly cover utility bills of those IDP families, which live in collective centers; those IDPs living in private accommodation are not eligible to this assistance.
In overall, in 2013 the state budget allocated total of GEL 86.9 million to cover these expenses (GEL 77.8 million for monthly allowances and GEL 9.1 million for utility bills).
As of June, 2013 number of those with IDP status stood at 271,592 of which 32,349 are registered as “socially vulnerable”, thus are eligible to other kind of allowance not the one for rest of the IDPs.
Re-registration of IDPs is now underway, which will last till the end of this year and which, according to MRA, aims at identifying an actual number of IDPs.
Minister in charge of IDPs, Davit Darakhvelidze, told lawmakers that the actual number of IDPs will be reduced by at least 30,000 as a result of re-registration.
MRA estimates that increase of monthly allowance to GEL 45 will require up to GEL 109 million next year – that is about GEL 22 million more than in 2013. Estimation is based on subtracting allowance for those 30,000 people, which are expected to be stricken off the IDPs list as a result of re-registration, as well as for those who will fall in GEL 1,250 taxable income threshold.
The bill, if approved by the Parliament, will go into force from March 1, 2014.
According to the bill, issuing of monthly allowance should be suspended to an IDP who will leave the country for more than two months.
Currently newborns, whose at least one parent is an IDP, automatically gets the status of IDP and becomes eligible for monthly allowance.
According to the proposed bill, starting from March 1, 2014 a newborn whose at least one parent is an IDP will still receive the same status, but will no longer be eligible for allowance.