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National Democratic Party States Its Political Platform

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, September 7
The National Democratic Party was the first political party to present its program at a public awareness forum initiated by NGO's Economic Policy Research Centre, ISET Policy Institute, Liberal Academy Tbilisi and Transparency International Georgia. Under the umbrella of USAID/EWMI's Policy, Advocacy, and Civil Society Development in Georgia (G-PAC) the project aims at better informing the Georgian population about the various political parties' platforms before the parliamentary elections next month.

Under the slogan "No to Russia" National Democratic party’s member Guram Chakhvadze emphasized the importance of Georgia’s foreign security to The Messenger. Referring to Russia as Georgia’s main enemy he said the party rejects any cooperation with Russia except for restoration of territorial integrity. “We say that Georgia’s choice is the Euro-Atlantic space, not Russia,” he said.

In his presentation Chakhvadze mainly focused on employment as "the most burning issue” for the country. He said, the state employment agency his party would establish, would protect the rights of labor, ensure employees from the possible risk of losing their jobs and provide with relevant compensation, and balance the income tax obligations between the employers and employees if they win the parliamentary elections. “I think it is unfair that I as an employee pay 20% [income tax] and businessmen – 5%,” he said.

He added that the State Ministry of Unemployment only gathers information about unemployment but the National Democrat's proposed employment agency would create policies that would tackle the widespread problems of unemployment throughout the country.

The establishment of fair labour rules, insurance for unemployed people, professional training, and promotion of small entrepreneurship are among the issues which the National-Democrats plan to raise if elected to Parliament. He said the proposed employment agency would also provide small grants for unemployed people to start their own businesses.

Summarising the first day of the public awareness project Nino Evgenidze, Executive Director of the Economic Policy Research Centre said economists present did not get sufficient answers to their questions from Chakhvadze. “It was more like a declaration of promises not a well-thought program,” Evgenidze told The Messenger.

Executive Director of ISET Policy Institute Eric Livny found the party interested in a strong social agenda but he wondered where the resources for the projects will come from. He also said that “the problem of unemployment is not only the problem of providing benefits for the unemployed but in giving the right skills” stressing that today in Georgia many universities give diplomas, not knowledge and skills demanded by the market. Livny said the party seemed more focused on distribution of the existing “pie” but lacked ideas how to increase the size of a pie.

The presentations of other political parties are already scheduled and The Messenger will summarize their election platforms as they are announced.