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On air on Rustavi 2 TV, a member of the United National Movement, Zurab Melikishvili stated: “The Government of Georgia commented upon the figures published by the National Statistics Office of Georgia, about 2.2% economic growth rate and assessed that there was a slight difference as compared to the planned economic growth rate. I would like to say that 0.8% which constitutes the difference between the planned and actual economic growth rates means loss of approximately GEL 300 million.”

FactCheck

verified the accuracy of Zurab Melikishvili’s statement.

According to the first draft of 2016 State Budget, the estimated economic growth rate for Georgia in 2016 was 3%. In December 2016, after amending the Law on Budget, that figure was cut to 2.7%. However, according to the preliminary information of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, final real GDP growth rate is 2.2%, which is 0.8% less as compared to the initially planned 3%.

In 2015, the economy of Georgia equaled GEL 26.3 billion. As highlighted by Zurab Melikishvili, 0.8% difference between the estimated and real economic growth does indeed mean loss in monetary terms. However, the loss constitutes GEL 210 million, instead of 300 million.

Since 2011, pace of Georgia’s economic growth rate has been declining (2014 being the only exception). However, economic growth rate of 2016 (2.2%) is the lowest of 2010-2016 years.

Graph 1:

 Georgia’s Economic Growth Rate in 2010-2016

image001 Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

Unstable economic situation was partly stipulated by unfolding events in the region which resulted in slashing Georgia’s exports and decreasing the amount of remittances from abroad.

Table 1: 

Economic Growth Rates of the Regional Countries in 2015-2016

Country 2015 2016
Armenia 3 2.4
Azerbaijan 1.1 -3.0
Georgia 2.9 2.2
Russia -3.7 -0.6
Ukraine -9.9 1.0
Turkey 4.0 2.5
Source: World Bank

In 2016, economies of Azerbaijan and Russia were reduced by -3% and -0.6% respectively. As compared to 2015, the pace of economic growth rates of Armenia and Turkey became slower in 2016. Ukraine registered a significant progress, as the country’s economy increased by 1%.

For Georgia, 2.2% economic growth rate is a poor performance. Based on World Bank’s 2017 Report, with 2.2% economic growth rate, Georgia is ahead of only seven countries out of 23 in the region (Europe and Central Asia). For additional clarity, if Georgia maintains the similar economic growth rate, it will never catch up Bulgaria, which is the poorest country of the European Union.

Conclusion

The economy of Georgia increased by 2.2% in 2016, which is 0.8% less as compared to the Government of Georgia’s estimate (3%) announced at the beginning of 2016.

In 2015, the economy of Georgia amounted to GEL 26.3 billion. The 0.8% difference between the estimate and actual figure means a loss of GEL 210 million, instead of 300 million. In spite of incorrect numbers, Zurab Melikishvili’s principal emphasis on the importance of the aforementioned difference in figures is right.

Therefore, FactCheck concludes that Zurab Melikishvili’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.