Finance Minister Says Debt Forgiveness Program a Success

Georgian Minister of Finance Ivane Matchavariani spoke to reporters on Monday, New Year's Eve, about the massive debt forgiveness program launched just before the second round of presidential elections earlier this month.

Starting December 15, 2018, the Government of Georgia began annulling the debts of over 600,000 citizens,150,000 of whom are socially vulnerable, whose loans at banks do not exceed 2000 GEL ($748). Cartu Foundation, established by the Founder and Chair of the ruling Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, agreed to take the full responsibility of paying the debts of those 600,000 people on the financial "black list."

The National Bank of Georgia is playing a consultative role in the program.

This week, Matchavariani said that loans worth four billion GEL have been written off and deemed the program a success. Cartu is discussing the extension of the initiative to financial institutions that have not yet participated through January 15, said Matchavariani.

Koba Gvenetadze, the President of the National Bank of Georgia, insisted that debtors should not expect government forgiveness programs to save them again, saying “We declared from the very beginning that this is a onetime measure and it will not happen in the future."

The non-governmental sector accused Georgian Dream of vote-buying ahead of the November 28 presidential runoff elections.

“The decision announced by the government contains signs of vote-buying and is directed in favor of Salome Zurabishvili, the candidate supported by the ruling party, aiming at winning the hearts of voters before the second round of the election,” a joint letter from NGOs said.

Ivanishvili rejected the accusations, saying he announced his desire to assist people in May.


By Samantha Guthrie

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