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Inexhaustible Stream of Pledges and Hunting Pensioners’ Votes

The 2016 parliamentary elections will be held in several weeks. Before, active election campaigns are underway. The shorter period is, discussions over political pledges, their feasibility and implementation ways intensifies.

The Caucasus Business Week (CBW) inquired how economic experts evaluate election pledges of leading political forces, how they appraise strategical views of the election participants and in general, whether political parties have real pledges with focus on economic development. The interviews have showed that economic experts have diverse opinion on the existing reality.

 Economist Rati Abuladze: Economic policy rhetoric in the Georgian political space is inefficient. Economic programs of political parties participating in elections may be appraised as inexhaustible stream of pledges, standard generalized programs, economic approaches based on only populism. “Regretfully, these programs do not comprise specific plans, practical approaches, required steps and action map. In practice, similar standard approaches make it unclear whether the country is capable for quick economic growth and development”, Abuladze noted.

Today each political organization asserts that only it is able to develop the country and that all of us should trust it, while they cannot introduce valuable and strong substantiation of specific ways and mechanisms for the country development. Therefore, political parties have to substantiate ways and mechanisms for attaining their pledges. Otherwise, combination of economic pledges of each political party will not make persuasive influence on political trust and election activity of Georgian citizens, Rati Abuladze said.

“We can name only Georgian Dream’s economic program that is comparatively adequate and academic”, Abuladze said.

It is surprising that persons running for elections accumulate their political activities around one person. Namely, the election participant bodies pay main attention to the person, who did not participate in elections  (B. Ivanishvili). It would be better that each party persuade the society that:

  • their economic policy is efficient;
  • they hold political or personal advantages;
  • they have clear vision for Georgian economy development ways;
  • they have developed financial market stability program;
  • they have determined new trade-economic relations policy;
  • They hold political plans for growth in Georgian exports potential and penetrating new markets;
  • They hold efficient mechanisms for attaining public welfare;
  • They hold plans and programs for strengthening population and growing productivity.

Finally, Georgian political parties offer invaluable and incompetent economic development ways and economic policy, Abuladze concluded.

Economic expert Paata Sheshelidze asserts that a major part of the election participant political parties realizes very well that the private sector will tune the future and it is of crucial importance to promote the private sector. This is an evident positive tendency, he said.

The first important thing is that all main political parties running for the parliamentary elections guess  that the future belongs to business, private property and its promotion  is very important. This is an evident tendency. This consideration is proved by the United National Movement (UNM), Georgian Dream and all other leading political forces.

Moreover, in most cases, accents are made on improving business environment through either lowering taxes, alleviating tax burden or introducing tax amnesty. This rhetoric is voiced by the United National Movement (UNM) and Paata Burchuladze’s party, when Georgian Dream prioritizes promotion of financial and other projects through not tax preferences, but fosteringthe financial distribution. “Thus, all of them realize that business sector support is of vital importance”, Sheshelidze said.

Election economic programs of political parties make less accent on agro-industrial issues and development of business activities in this sector, the expert noted. “Moreover, none of them has made such accents as privatization, privatizing raw materials and natural resources. They have not developed these issues and the factor may be appraised as a gap and fault. They had to pay more attention to similar issues”, Sheshelidze said.

Frequently, a major part of election pledges collide with theoretical concepts. For example, introduction of minimum salary margin. Despite similar pledges, we may receive opposite results, Sheshelidze said.

“For example, we want to determine the minimum salary by 500 GEL. However, it will turn out that employers will not agree to pay such high salaries to employees. This promise was voiced by Nino Burjanadze’s party and more evidently was highlighted by Irakli Alasania’s party”, Sheshelidze said. Economic expert David Aslanishvili said that political parties offer unreal pledges based on populism. The election process is an ordinary marketing art, when one party tries to steal  something from another party, in this case, votes. Political parties consider youth and aged people as the market segments. As a result, we have this kind of promises, David Aslanishvili noted.

“In the Post-Soviet space, regretfully, aged people are the most active segment. Pensioners do not work. They do not care for business development, relations with foreign countries. This is a major segment. This is a desirable titbit for elections and no party plans to miss this chance. Therefore, all political parties adjust their election programs to this segment. I mean the issue of growing or declining pensions”, Aslanishvili said.

As to other segments and real economy revival, these issues are mentioned indifferently in economic platforms of political parties. The reason is that pensioners care less for exports growth and imports reduction, Aslanishvili noted.  Promises given to pensioners will be never fulfilled, because their fulfillment will destruct the country. Pledges for pensioners may be appraised as mottoes for embezzlement and gnawing state resources, Aslanishvili said.  Nobody talks about catastrophically reduced exports and this is a tendency. The country has to pay debts. Nobody tries to expose these issues, he said.

“We have all signs that our country produces nothing. I would recall the words of legendary German chancellor  Bismark. He said people lie in wars, hunting and before elections most of all. WE should remember these words every time. We should be maximally pragmatic in relation to promises that we heard in August-September”, Aslanishvili noted.

The CBW has contacted several other experts, but they abstained to make comments. Emzar Jgerenaia could not find time, while Gia Khukhashvili refrained from answers referring to incompetency in the mentioned issues.