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Saakashvili promises to revitalise the regions

By Shorena Labadze
Friday, March 7

President Mikheil Saakashvili outlined his administration’s plans to improve the quality of life for rural Georgians at a government session in Kutaisi on March 5.

He also announced the formation of a commission which will meet once monthly in the regions.

“Prices are increasing sharply on fuel, on agricultural and everyday items. The only way to deal with the problem is increasing salaries and providing assistance through new social programs,” Saakashvili said.

Among the initiatives is a government pledge to build 100 new processing plants to help realise Georgia’s economic potential in the agricultural sector, and the introduction of hundreds of new tractors across the country.

A spokesman from the Agriculture Ministry said that the new plants will process a variety of products including dairy items and citrus fruit, but that exact details will only be known after a tender is held.

“As for the tractors, 360 tractors have already been delivered to the regions and more will come in April. Fuel for the tractors will be distributed by March 15,” he added.

The president also signed a decree conferring village-status on a small settlement named Poladaantkari in the Gadarbani region, which he said would be the initial focus for rural revival programs.

“We must follow our programs ‘Georgia Without Poverty’ and ‘The Survival of the Georgian Village,’” he said.

Eradicating poverty in Georgia was one of Saakashvili’s key pledges in the run-up to the snap presidential election on January 5.

On the topic of education, Saakashvili announced that new library books would be loaned to regional libraries to improve access to reading materials across the country.

“Very educated people live in our villages and they mustn’t be restricted by a lack of books,” he said.

He also instructed Refugees State Minister Koba Subeliani to live with refugees in Kutaisi for a number of days to familiarize himself with their everyday struggles.