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Gov’t to Annul Bank Debts for 600,000 People

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, November 20
Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze has announced that 600,000 Georgian citizens, who have been blacklisted by banks, will have their loans annulled.

Bakhtadze said that the total amount of the loans is 1,5 billion GEL, which will be covered by the Cartu foundation, founded by former PM, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

“No money will be allocated from the state budget,” he said.

Bakhtadze stated that the initiative will concern the category of people whose principle loan does not exceed 2,000 GEL.

“This category includes almost 150,000 socially vulnerable citizens and tens of thousands of our disabled citizens”, Bakhtadze said.

Bakhtadze stated that the step was taken to “ease the burden of excessive debt” in the country.

He also vowed that the government will work with banks to reduce interest rates.

The process of annulment of the loans will start on December 15 and continue until December 31.

Opposition presidential candidate Grigol Vashadze says that “this is the step of a desperate government”, which is going to lose the November 28 presidential runoff.

Vashadze says that banks written off the loans anyway, where there are no chances of their payment.

“For instance, last year banks wrote off the 79 million GEL worth loans,” Vashadze said.

Vashadze says the government is “cheating the people” and is trying to “sell the annulment of loans which would be written off anyway” as its goodwill.

The Georgian civil sector says that the law enforcement must show interest to the issue as it “includes the signs of bribing voters.”

“The fact that the Cartu foundation will cover the loans it might be an attempt of bribing the voters,” the Transparency International Georgia and the International Society for Fair Elections and Technology say.

They also believe that the initiative is “discriminative” as the rest of people, who have paid loans for years honestly, will have to continue to do so, while others in the blacklist will have their financial obligations covered by the state.

The NGOs say that the initiative may “push people in the future” to take loans and not pay them with the hope that the government will do so instead.

The Georgian Dream supported independent presidential candidate Salome Zourabichvili received 0,9 percent more votes than her opponent Vashadze in the first round of elections.

The ruling party claimed that the election results “included messages for them sent by the Georgian people.”

Before the second round of elections, the ruling party has announced about several socio-economic benefits for socially vulnerable and others.