Salome Lemonjava

In Georgia minimum wage since 2007 has increased from 6.4% to 10.1%. These figures only extend to registered residents reported by Georgian statistics national service.

International Monetary Fund on April 4-th of 2015 issued economic development prognosis of its member countries. According to the research, average annual income for each inhabitant in Georgia equals to $3.087, which has decreased to $3.699 in 2014. The reason of decrease of annual income calculated in dollars is the inflation of national currency GEL, which is considered as a very serious problem nowadays. To explain in much simpler words, if  $3.087 is divided into 12 months, we get $257.25 a month, which equals to 633 GEL.

If you type – poverty in Georgina – in Google, besides official data you will see various articles regarding undecided problems connected with poverty. Why? Because the unemployment remains very serious problem in my country. For instance, we can hardly find families, where all the members are employed. Moreover, it’s easier to find the families with only one breadwinner in it. So, his/her $257.25 monthly income can’t simultaneously be distributed on groceries, health care, household necessities, utility bills, education.. He probably needs to come up with a new mathematical equation. …shopping, entertainment, vacation, travelling are totally different matters, that I don’t consider while writing this article.

In addition to all these, we have classic stereotypes as well. For example the first important issue is that a child must receive higher education and even if he/she isn’t interested in it, still has to apply to university. As for professional education, which is now taking its first steps in Georgia therefore is not very acceptable to Georgian mentality yet. Consequently, “what will people say if my child starts working as a waiter in a café?” similar rhetorical questions are often raised among parents. As for children themselves, I’d say that taking their parents’ income into account, Iphone 7 or a private car are luxuries, but desire overtakes reality and they need to take loans specifically for it. Classic example of Georgian stereotypes includes the fact that 30,35,40 etc. years old unemployed adult is still perceived as a “child” and needs the same care from their parents as they had in their childhood. In similar stigmatic society one can only hope to exist on his monthly income of $257.26 (633 GEL). As for living life, it practically becomes impossible. If we look at stigma in reality and put stereotypes on the side, we understand that this income can hardly meet basic household requirements. We do have many examples of such families.

In today’s Georgia, as I’ve already mentioned, poverty and unemployment are the biggest problems. Governments change, yet these problems remain the same. But we really need to grow and improve.

Indeed, medallion has two sides and, we can say that situation was worse when we took first steps into our country’s independence. In my country it was times when we had neither electricity, nor natural gas. When I was a child I remember once my mother and I got on the bus and I clapped when I saw the light in it and exclaimed “electricity has come”… this was very usual in my childhood. We’ve overcome that problem, although majority of population still remains poor. Ironically at every stage through our history we’ve been striving for growth and development. We want democracy. We want European Union. We want freedom.

Economic growth is fundamental basis to prosperity and wellbeing. Poverty needs to be eradicated and social middle class should represent the majority of Georgian population, not the poor.

From the first look, it may sound as a phrase coming from a dreamer girl when I say that I’m more than sure that Georgia will reach that stage. Fortunately, the fact is that newer generation doesn’t resemble the elder one. We are neither ashamed of being waitresses, nor living on our own seems impossible. On the contrary, we aren’t afraid of trying different thing and juggle several thing simultaneously to feel more independent, more developed, more refined and realized. Therefore I, so called dreamer girl have faith in our future, in better future. Georgia looks well developed in that better future. It means, that majority of us are employed and poverty is defeated in that better future.

To go back to our new mathematical equation: Poverty + employment = development

Salome Lemonjava

Read this article in Georgian here.

The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author, and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of ALDA and the European Union.