The opposition United National Movement party announced on November 16 about the launch of a campaign to push for the increase of minimal monthly age pension by GEL 50 to GEL 210 from next year.
Leader of the UNM parliamentary minority group, MP Davit Bakradze, said that the opposition party was launching collection of signature for a petition with this demand.
MP Bakradze said that GEL 50 increase of minimal monthly pension “will cost the budget GEL 420 million” in 2016; these funds, he said, should be earmarked by cutting government administrative cost.
“In case of political will, the state has all the financial means and resources to increase pensions by GEL 50 already in 2016. A question is quite simple: what does Georgia need today – bonus [for officials] or [higher] pensions?” MP Bakradze said and added that the government should choose “either in favor of its own comfort or its people.”
The most recently when pensions increased in Georgia was from September, 2015. Currently the basic, minimal monthly pension is set at GEL 160; from GEL 2 to GEL 10 is added monthly to that minimal rate depending on length of service.
Commenting on UNM’s calls for GEL 50 pension increase, Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri said last week: “[The United] National Movement has fallen into the whirlpool of populism.”
He made the remarks while speaking at a parliamentary session when presenting draft of 2016 state budget to lawmakers on November 12; UNM lawmakers were not attending parliamentary hearings last week because of developments over Rustavi 2 TV. During the campaign ahead of 2012 parliamentary elections, some leading figures from GD coalition, specifically Irakli Alasania, whose Free Democrats party quit the GD last year, were pledging increase of monthly pension to GEL 220.
During the parliamentary hearing last week, some lawmakers from the Georgian Dream ruling coalition have also voiced called for the need to increase minimal pension in 2016, which is an election year. Khaduri responded that the government will present its position over the issue “very soon.”
GD lawmaker, Dimitri Khundadze, who chairs parliamentary committee for healthcare and social issues, suggested on November 16, that pension increase by more than GEL 10 is feasible, but increase by GEL 50 won’t be possible.
Current draft of 2016 state budget does not envisage increase of pension next year.
The draft allocates GEL 1.48 billion for covering age pension cost, accounting for 16.2% of total budgetary expenditures planned for 2016.
According to the Social Service Agency, number of age pensioners stood at 706,695 as of October, 2015.
According to the Finance Ministry the number is expected to increase to 735,000 in 2016.