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Resume: According to the data of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the number of self-employed agriculture workers amounts to 650,500. In accordance with the agriculture anti-crisis plan, 200,000 farmers will receive a GEL 200 subsidy and discount price diesel fuel per one-hectare of land. A self-employed individual is a person who lives in a rural area and owns agriculture land which he cultivates and gets an in-kind or monetary income. Therefore, not only a land-owner but his family members can also be self-employed in one and the same domestic household. However, it is also possible that a landowner farmer and his family members have another job and are not self-employed. Therefore, the flat-out assertion that all 200,000 farmers who receive subsidies are self-employed is groundless. As a result, it is hard to determine precisely how many rural-based self-employed individuals will receive the government assistance package. In addition, we cannot say how many self-employed persons living in rural areas will qualify for the social package envisioned for people with ranking points from 60 to 100,000. Consequently, we will leave the Prime Minister’s statement WITHOUT A VERDICT.

Analysis

The Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia, answered questions about the anti-crisis plan at the Parliament of Georgia. The Prime Minister also spoke about the assistance for self-employed workers and stated: “It was Mr Bobokhidze, I suppose, who said that there are 800,000 registered self-employed individuals. These 800,000 workers are registered according to the data of the National Statistics Office of Georgia. With this being said, Mr Bobokhidze, you should also say that of that the 800,000 people, nearly 600,000 are engaged in agriculture. This is how it is. Therefore, we provide help with agriculture programmes for the villagers and farmers who live in rural areas and who the National Statistics Office of Georgia considers as self-employed. We have nearly 200,000 persons on the others side who remain as self-employed. Of those self-employed individuals, some are covered by those social programmes which you mentioned within the range of 60,000 to 100,000 points. And 150,000 people remain. I would like to assure you we will help everyone with the proposed programme.”

According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the number of employees was 1,690,200 in 2019. Of this amount, hired employees comprise 849,300 and the self-employed – 840,400. Therefore, the self-employed workers in the total amount of employment constitutes 49.7%. The number of employees in 2019 decreased by 4,000 as compared to 2018 which was caused by a drop in the number of hired employees. In that period, the number of hired employees decreased by 10,900 and the number of self-employed individuals increased by 7,000. Those individuals whom the National Statistics Office of Georgia registers as self-employed are mostly engaged in agriculture/domestic households. The work of these people is not associated with a salaried income and they are considered as individuals who work for free in their own households. For instance, a self-employed worker is a person who lives in a rural area and owns agriculture land which he cultivates and gets an in-kind or monetary income.

In 2019, the total number of agriculture workers was 891,400. Of this amount, 240,900 were hired employees and 650,500 were self-employed.

The agriculture anti-crisis plan consists of several components. This includes assistance for small farmers as follows:

· Subsidy for agriculture products and ploughing services for landowners with 0.25 hectare to 10 hectares of registered land.

The amount of subsidy per one-hectare of land is GEL 200. Around 200,000 farmers will receive this assistance. The programme budget is GEL 37 million.

· Agriculture landowners will be able to purchase diesel fuel at discount prices.

Landowners who have 0.25 to 10 hectares of registered agriculture land will receive diesel fuel for agro-technical work for GEL 1 cheaper (per litre) as compared to market prices. The assistance is capped at 150 litres per hectare and 200,000 farmers will receive this assistance. The programme will enable farmers to save approximately GEL 40 million.

As we see according to the programme, subsidies for agriculture products and ploughing services as well as the discount price for diesel fuel is envisioned for 200,000 farmers who are registered landowners (from 0.25 to 10 hectares). As mentioned previously, a self-employed worker is a person who lives in a rural area and owns agriculture land which he cultivates and gets an in-kind or monetary income. Therefore, not only a land-owner but his family members can also be self-employed in one and the same domestic household. However, it is also possible that a landowner farmer and his family members are not self-employed. Therefore, the flat-out assertion that all 200,000 farmers who receive subsidies are self-employed is groundless. As a result, it is hard to determine precisely how many rural-based self-employed individuals will receive the government assistance.

In regard to self-employed workers living in rural areas who are left without the aforementioned assistance, some of them will be covered by a social assistance package which is envisioned for people with 60,000 to 100,000 ranking points according to the information of the Prime Minister. In accordance with the database of socially vulnerable people, there are 237,920 people registered in the database as of May 2020 who are within this range. However, it is also hard to say how many of them are self-employed workers living in rural areas.

Of further note is that the government’s anti-crisis plan envisions a one-off GEL 300 assistance for each self-employed citizen if he produces evidence of losing income. To this end, GEL 75 million will be allocated from the budget and an estimated 250,000 citizens will receive this assistance.