Free Democrats (FD) opposition party, led by ex-defense minister Irakli Alasania, has vowed increase of minimum monthly age pension by more than 66% and to introduce legally binding minimum wage system if it wins in the October 8 parliamentary elections.
“Our main slogan and message to voters is better economy, better life,” Alasania said on July 1, when his party unveiled part of its election program.
FD has pledged to increase minimum monthly pension from current GEL 180 to GEL 300. The minimum pension was increased from GEL 160 to GEL 180 starting from July 1.
During the election campaign ahead of the 2012 parliamentary polls, when FD was part of the Georgian Dream coalition, Irakli Alasania pledged to voters in one of his campaign meetings to increase monthly pensions to at least GEL 220 – at the time the figure stood at GEL 100; this pledge is frequently mentioned by the opponents when they remind GD of its “unfulfilled pre-election promises.”
FD, which was in the GD governing coalition before quitting it in November 2014, also pledges to introduce minimum salary of GEL 3 per hour, or up to GEL 500 per month (about USD 216.5 as of July 2). An average monthly nominal wage was GEL 913 in the first quarter of 2016, according to the Georgian state statistics office.
According to FD’s economic program, which the party unveiled a year ago, Georgia’s annual economic growth will accelerate from current 3% to 5% next year and further to 6%, 8% and 9% in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively, as a result of policies the party plans to carry out if it comes into government. The party says this growth will result into additional GEL 4 billion in the state coffers that will allow channel more funds to social programs.
One of the components of the program is applying 15% corporate income tax only to distributed profit. The Parliament adopted similar reform in May, which will go into effect starting from 2017; the rule will apply to banks, insurance companies, microfinance institutions and pawnbroking businesses starting from 2019.
In its economic program FD also pledges to more than double threshold of annual turnover for businesses to be qualified as “micro business” to become eligible for certain tax exempts – something similar was proposed by the UNM opposition party in its economic part of the election program this week; UNM has also pledged to increase minimum monthly age pension by GEL 50 starting from November, 2016
FD MP Davit Onoprishvili, who chaired parliamentary committee for finances before the party quit the ruling coalition, said that cutting of expenses on bureaucracy will also make it possible to redirect funds to social programs.
FD party also says that the current official minimum monthly subsistence level does not reflect real situation and the party want to revise it upward to GEL 250. According to the state statistics office minimum subsistence level for a working-age male was GEL 160.6 as of May, 2016.