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On 23 December 2014, member of the Parliamentary Minority, Giorgi Gabashvili, discussed a news article about Georgia which was published in the New York Times.

According to the MP, the Government of Georgia purchased an eight-page long commercial space at the expense of taxpayers. The article says that since the Georgian Dream government came to power, it has increased pensions by 50%. Giorgi Gabashvili asserts that this is not true.

FactCheck

took interest in Giorgi Gabashvili’s statement and verified its accuracy.

We have written articles about pensions before. Of note is that the amount of bonus based upon the length of employment for old-age pensioners was in the margin of GEL 2-10 in the period 2007-2012. In 2012, a portion of the country’s retirees received a pension in the amount of GEL 110 whilst other pensioners received GEL 125. Since April 2013, the pension for every category of pensioner has become GEL 125 and rose to GEL 150 in September 2013. There was no increase of pensions in 2014 whilst pensions will rise by GEL 10 starting from September 2015. As compared to 2012, the increase of pensions equals 36% at the present moment with the difference set to reach 45% on 1 September 2015. It needs to be mentioned that the government’s opponents often argue

that against the backdrop of rising food prices and the level of inflation, the GEL 10 increase will hardly make any difference in the income of the country’s retired persons.

In 20 December 2014, the New York Times published an article entitled "The Georgian Dream Ruling Party is Making the National Vision Become a Reality." The article is eight pages long and printed in space designated for commercial ads. Apart from the reforms implemented in Georgia, the article says that after the 2012 Parliamentary Elections, the Georgian Dream increased

pensions by 50%.

The New York Times issued an explanation that the ad had been prepared by Haddock and Associates Ltd and employees of the New York Times

had not been involved in the process.

The Administration of the Government of Georgia clarified that following Decree No. 2082 of the Government of Georgia, issued on 26 November 2014, the LEPL Georgian National Investment Agency, JSC Partnership Fund, JSC Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation, Georgia Energy Development Fund and Trans Caucasus Terminals LTD purchased the right from the British media company, Haddock and Associates Ltd, to place an independent ad in the New York Times

in order to ensure an unhindered publication of the article given both its public and national importance. All of the expenses related to the publication were covered by the abovementioned organisations using their own budgetary funds. The only exception is the Georgian National Investment Agency, a legal entity of public law, established by the government. According to the information obtained from the Administration of the Government of Georgia, the expenses incurred by the Georgian National Investment Agency were covered from the state budget of 2014.

Conclusion FactCheck verified the accuracy of Giorgi Gabashvili’s statement. The MP is right to say that the article published in the New York Times was indeed of a commercial nature. However, at the present moment, FactCheck

is unaware what sum of money was spent from the state budget to pay for the publication. Moreover, it must be noted that Georgia’s state budget envisages certain expenditures annually to advertise the country. Therefore, the expenditure of the LEPL Georgian National Investment Agency has been incurred from the funds designated for Georgia’s investment policy planning and management.

After the change of government, pensions rose by 36% in April 2013. This means that instead of a 50% rise as claimed in the article published in the New York Times,

the actual increase of pensions constituted 36%. After 1 September 2015 the amount of pension will be 45% more as compared to the amount of pension in 2012.

FactCheck concludes that Giorgi Gabashvili’s statement: "The Government of Georgia buys commercial ads in the US media and announces that pensions in Georgia have increased by 50%," is MOSTLY TRUE.