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The News in Brief

Wednesday, December 2
Corrected state budget submitted to the Parliament

The corrected version of the state budget has been submitted to Parliament.

According to Tamaz Mechiauri, the Chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee, the revenue part of the budget has been increased by 225 million GEL.

According to him, the increase will be distributed as follows: approximately 90 million will be directed to increasing pensions by 20 lari, 15 million will be added to providing IDPs with housing and 15 million - to sporting events. Additional 10 million will be given to the Economy Ministry. The funding of the Ministry of Corrections will also be increased. 48 million will be allocated for the agricultural program.

Next year's state budget must be approved by the Parliament until 18 December. (IPN)

Road Department warns: Slippery roads in north of Georgia

The Road Department of Georgia warns that there are traffic restrictions in mountainous areas.

Due to frosty conditions, trailers, semi-trailers and other vehicles with more than 30 seats are asked to use snow chains from the 80km to 136km section of the Mtskheta-Stepantsminda-Larsi road, which connects Georgia with Russia at the Larsi border crossing.

All types of vehicles are asked to use snow chains on the Gudauri-Kobi section of the same road. Vehicles are prohibited from making stops from 134km to 135km on this road in the Dariali valley.

There are also restrictions in Svaneti. Trailers, semi-trailers and vehicles with more than 30 seats are prohibited from driving from the 147km to the 188km stretch of the Zugdidi-Jvari-Mestia-Lasdili road. (DF watch)

New enterprise aims to rehabilitate former prisoners

Georgia is taking action to help former prisoners and former drug abusers rehabilitate and reintegrate into society in a useful, constructive way.

Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani opened a cafeteria at Tbilisi Public Service Hall, which employed former inmates and drug abusers.

The Minister said the cafe would become a source of income for the staff and it would also allow them to gain useful skills to find better jobs in the future. It was also a chance for the former inmates to reintegrate with society in a safe, public setting.

The cafe also employed family members of former prisoners.

The new social enterprise was part of the program Socio-Economic Integration Through Social Enterprise Development to Address the Problem of Drug Abuse Among Georgian Nationals Including Returning and Potential Migrants. The program was initiated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and funded by the State Secretariat for Migration of Switzerland (SEM).

The Swiss Ambassador to Georgia Lukas Beglinger and head of the IOM Mission to Georgia Iliana Derilova attended today’s opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, the Rehabilitation and Resocialisation of Former Prisoners program started in Georgian in 2013. Since then hundreds of ex-inmates and their family members were offered employment or had their business ideas funded by the program. (

U.S. tightens visa waiver program

The White House announced changes to the U.S. visa waiver program on Monday so that security officials can more closely screen travellers from 38 countries allowed to enter the United States without obtaining visas before they travel, Reuters is reporting.

Under the new measures, which were prompted by the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris by Islamic State militants, the Department of Homeland Security would immediately start to collect more information from travelers about past visits to countries such as Syria and Iraq, the White House said.

The changes will "enhance our ability to thwart terrorist attempts to travel on lost or stolen passports," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in Paris, where President Barack Obama is attending U.N. talks on climate change.

The DHS would also look at pilot programs for collecting biometric information such as fingerprints from visa waiver travellers, the White House said.

The DHS would also ask Congress for additional powers, including the authority to increase fines for air carriers that fail to verify passport data, and the ability to require all travelers to use passports with embedded security chips, the White House said.

The White House also wants to expand the use of a "preclearance program" in foreign airports to allow U.S. border officials to collect and screen biometric information before visa waiver travellers can board aircraft heading to the United States.

The White House urged Congress to pass legislation before leaving Washington later in December for a holiday recess. (IPN)