On 18 March 2015, the Parliamentary Minority MP of Adigeni, Zurab Chilingarashvili, talked about the villages in the Adigeni Municipality which were affected by a hailstorm. According to the MP, a hailstorm destroyed the harvest in eight of the municipality’s villages on 14 September 2014. The estimated damage was calculated at GEL 1,050,000 but only GEL 321,000 was allocated for compensation. In addition, a decision was made to distribute groceries to the victims of the natural disaster, instead of money, which the MP believed was not a good decision. Hence, he expressed his interest about who decided to substitute money with groceries. The MP commented further that the compensation should have been distributed during the winter instead of in March 2015. Mr Chilingarashvili added that no tenders were announced to determine the cost of the groceries for the compensation which meant that prices much higher than those on the average market were paid.

FactCheck

took interest in the accuracy of the facts in the MP’s statements and looked into them.

According to the information received from the Adigeni Municipality, a total of nine villages were affected by the hailstorm on 14 September 2014. These were:  Lelovani, Amkheri, Samkuri, Kakhareti, Ijareti, Imertubani, Chorchani, Didi Samada and Patara Samada. The estimated damage caused by the hailstorm amounted to GEL 1.57 million.

According to the 29 January 2015 Directive of the Government of Georgia, a total of GEL 321,000 was allocated from the government’s reserve fund in order to purchase and distribute groceries for the victims of the Adigeni Municipality natural disaster; however, the money was transferred to the local government only in March and in two stages; namely, GEL 138,600 on 11 March and GEL 182,400 on 17 March. As the Directive illustrates, the Government of Georgia decided to purchase and distribute groceries as a compensation for the natural disaster-affected population. The compensation was distributed to 585 families in nine villages as determined by the Damage Assessment Commission. About one-third of the amount of the damage was compensated for the population.

According to the information received from the Adigeni Municipality, the groceries for the victims of the natural disaster were acquired by simplified rules as the Law on State Purchases does not concern money allocated from the reserve fund of the Government of Georgia.

The Adigeni Municipality invited six individuals working in the municipality to determine the company to be selected to provide the groceries to be purchased and distributed to the victims. In the end, only one proprietor, Ioseb Gogitashvili, met all of the requirements as were set by the municipality. The main requirement imposed was to complete the purchase and distribution of the groceries in the shortest possible time. An agreement was signed with Mr Gogitashvili on 26 February 2015 which provided GEL 321,000 for the compensation. The money was transferred to him after two weeks following its receipt in the municipality from the government’s reserve fund.

Ioseb Gogitashvili completed the provision of the groceries on 9 March 2015. The respective services of the municipality finished the distribution of the groceries in the nine villages on 16 March 2015. It should be noted that the groceries were purchased at prices determined by Mr Gogitashvili. Here we present the retail prices of the groceries and the amount of compensation distributed to the victims of the Adigeni Municipality’s natural disaster (see the link 1, link 2

available only in Georgian).

It should be noted that given the depreciation of GEL, prices of groceries have increased since the beginning of the year. The prices given by Ioseb Gogitashvili, such those for flour, oil and sugar, are equal to the average market prices for these products.

Conclusion

Nine villages were affected by a hailstorm in the Adigeni Municipality. The estimated damage caused by the natural disaster amounted to GEL 1.57 million; however, the government allocated only GEL 321,000 from its reserve fund for compensation. It should be noted that allocating compensation for the municipality’s victims was decided only in January 2015 even though the hailstorm occurred in September 2014. The damage-affected community members did not receive their compensation until March 2015. Hence, this part of the MP’s statement is accurate.

However, the pathos of the MP is incorrect as he talks about the financial compensation allocated by the government. The purchase and distribution of groceries as a form of compensation was planned from the very start according to a government directive. The MP’s statement is inaccurate in terms of the prices of the groceries which were equal to average market prices as of March 2015.

Hence, FactCheck concludes that Zurab Chilingarashvili’s statement is HALF TRUE.

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