12.5 Million Lari to Employ Students for one Month
Manon Bokuchava, Kvemo Kartli
“More benefit to people” is the government's new slogan. Slowly it shows what this slogan means by “benefit”. “Summer jobs” it says on white caps worn by students seen on Rustavi streets. With papers in hand they walk the different streets of the city in search of present social conditions. They say that the questionnaires they are carrying were given to them by the local government in Rustavi.
Rustavi student Salome Jankharashvili is one of them: “I am a student at the agrarian university and am in a one month employment program for students. I have to see seven people in one day. I go and ask how they live, if they have electricity, gas and other things. The compensation I get is 500 lari, but after income tax we only get 400 lari. I think that this kind of job is good for me. The program ends on august 20,” she told Humanrights.ge.
Salome explained that she became signed up for this program via Rustavi self-government institutions, who also provide her with duties: “As I said, I have to see seven people in a day. If I am unable to see one of them I go back to Rustavi city hall to get another person's address to fill my quota of questionnaires.”
In Rustavi city hall they didn’t want to talk about the summer job program but some information is available on their website: “Under the “Summer Job” program, the Ministry of Economic Development's Spatial Planning and Building Policy Department, state attorneys and self-government structures in different cities will employee more than 1800 students, with salary of 500 lari.” the website reads.
Other than “benefit”, the month-long employment also has election motives. This program ends about one month before the elections. That this kind of thing doesn’t happen by accident is well known to organizations that study the Georgian budget.
Transparency International Georgia highlights this fact in a new report released on July 20: “Public spending in election years is more focused on social programs, short term employment and a populist agenda in general, as opposed to non-election years. This has also been the case in 2012, a parliamentary election year.”.
The report details the “Summer Job” program that started before elections. We can read that from July 20 till august 20, 25 000 students will be employed for one month. The cost will be covered by the state budget.
We can also read that the total cost for the government of this one month employment program will be 12.5 million lari.