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Public debate about the socially vulnerable

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, February 25
Former government officials and President Mikheil Saakashvili claim that the current Georgian leadership does not care about socially vulnerable people. According to the former Minister of Healthcare Zurab Tchiaberashvili socially vulnerable status has been suspended for more than 18,000 Georgian citizens since Georgian Dream came to power this past October.

Tchiaberashvili claims that the new rulers of the country have failed to fulfil their election promises concerning the reduction or halving of prices as well as assistance to the socially unprotected sector.

“Moreover, since the new government came to power the condition of poor people has gotten worse." Tchiaberashvili stated.

During his visit to Rustavi a week ago President Saakashvili visited two poor families. According to members of the families they no longer receive social assistance from the government because one family member has a temporary job and another started working.

“I ask the government that came to power with the slogan of assisting socially unprotected people to pay attention to and meet with them [socially vulnerable people]." Saakashvili stated.

The Ministry of Healthcare has responded to the accusations made by Tchiaberashvili. According to the Head of the Social Service Agency Noe Kinkladze the Ministry only suspended assistance to several hundred families. According to Kinkladze the Ministry received information that the income of those families concerned had increased and therefore they no longer qualified for social assistance.

“There are also families that began receiving social assistance during the election period. Local governors granted them socially vulnerable status in order to gain their votes,” Kinkladze said, adding that such issues are currently being investigated.

Kinkladze also stressed that if someone thinks their government assistance was unfairly taken away from them they can address the local services of the Social Service Agency.

“In case if there was some mistake we will reimburse the loss and assistance will be restored.” Kinkladze said.

During the previous UNM government social assistance for socially vulnerable families consisted of 25 lari per month. Since Georgian Dream came to power social assistance has been increased to 100 lari monthly.