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«Annex #1 Regional Development Programme of Georgia 2015-2017 Table of Contents Chapter I. Foreword 3 1.1 General Provisions and Programme Adoption ...»

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Annex #1

Regional Development Programme

of Georgia


Table of Contents

Chapter I. Foreword 3

1.1 General Provisions and Programme Adoption Principles 3

1.2 Programmme Structure, Methodology and Vision 3

Chapter II. Current Situation Overview– Economic and Social Conditions 6

2.1 Geographic Location and Natural Resources 6

2.2 Population and Demography 7

2.3 Physical Infrastructure 8

2.4 Environment 11

2.5 Economic Structure and Indicators 13

2.6 Labour Market, Education and Training 17

2.7 Investments, Innovation and Technological Development 21

2.8 Income and Poverty 23

2.9 Cultural and Recreational Resources 25 Chapter III. The Development Needs of Georgia’s Regions 27

3.1 Introduction 27

3.2 SWOT Table 28

3.3 Key Needs 29 Chapter IV. Institutional and Policy Context 34

4.1 Institutional and Policy Context in Georgia 34

4.2 International Agreements and Foreign Funding Sources 37 Chapter V. Programme Targets and Priorities 40

5.1 Introduction 40

5.2 Overall Objectives 40

5.3 Specific Objectives 40

5.4 Priorities 41 Chapter VI. Programme Measures 44 2015-2017 Regional Development Programme Guideline Form for Supporting the Monitoring of the Programme (A

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Chapter I. Foreword 1.1 General Provisions and Programme Adoption Principles The 2015-2017 Regional Development Programme of Georgia (hereinafter – the Programme) is a medium-term governmental document specifying the main goals and objectives of Georgia’s Regional Development Policy and its relevant priorities and measures. It also defines the necessary conditions for the balanced and sustainable socio-economic development of the country’s regions.

Regional Policy, in terms of programme implementation objectives is a combination of purposeful measures concentrated and coordinated at regional level, focusing on development needs and priorities and therefore on the result-oriented allocation of resources to ensure sustainable regional development of the country.

The Programme was prepared in pursuance with the Decree №1315 of Government of Georgia from September 10, 2013 with the intense involvement of relevant Ministries and the Government Commission on Regional Development.

At the same time, the development and implementation of the Programme is of vital importance within the framework of ongoing and planned cooperation between the EU and Georgia including the Budgetary and Sector Policy Support Programme. It is even more important that the Programme’s development and its efficient implementation comply with the Association Agreement and the implementation objectives of the Association Agenda’s relevant provisions.

The approach reflected in the Programme is much more complex and coordinated than it was before, requiring more cooperation and engagement of those ministries and state institutions whose activities may have an impact on the regional development of the country.

–  –  –

The Regional Development Policy along with key Priorities (Chapter 5) and respective Measures (Chapter 6) necessary for its implementation are set out in the Programme. They are preceded by an Overview of the Current Situation on regional development (Chapter 2) and accordingly identified Key Needs (Chapter 3). Annex 2 to the document contains a specific guideline form for supporting the monitoring of the implementation of the Programme priorities and measures.

Hereby, two general yet very important issues should be given due consideration:

1. The starting point for the first stage of the Programme’s development was the State Strategy for Regional Development of Georgia for 2010-2017 (SSRD). However, the circumstances - the wider context of Georgian policy and politics - have significantly changed and evolved since the adoption of that strategy that logically led to the development of a new Programme being in compliance with new realities and approximated more with the respective programming standards of

the European Union. More specifically, there were the following circumstances:

The election of new government as a result of Parliamentary elections in late 2012, was followed by the adjustments of policies of previous government both at general level (e.g. Basic Data and Directions for 2013-2016) and for specific fields and sectors (e.g. agriculture, education - including vocational education, healthcare and employment.). Most importantly, the elaboration of a new regional and local development policy has been initiated in the context of a new national policy for the economic development of the country.

Further development of Georgia’s international relations has been embarked with very important achievements. Specifically, important negotiations over the Association Agreement were completed between the EU and Georgia in 2013 allowing the parties to initial the Association Agreement at the Eastern Partnership Summit in November 2013 and to sign the Association Agreement in June, 2014.

Moreover, following the adoption of SSRD in 2010 (reflecting analysis of 2009 and earlier), regional development strategies for all regions of Georgia were elaborated. Each regional development strategy was approved by the relevant Regional Development Council and the Government Commission on Regional Development of Georgia and later (in September, 2013) was approved by the relevant government decrees. Such “bottom-up” results of planning required their proper consideration and reflection in the new Programme.

In addition, the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, together with the National Statistics Office of Georgia (GeoStat) and other Ministries, has been working on the identification, collection and presentation of regional development related data in 2013-2014. These works and appropriate data allow description of regional disparities more accurately (unlike the SSRD preparation period, when such data were not available) and which were required to be considered in the Programme.

2. The issue that had to be considered in the Programme is the broad objective of regional development policy. This Programme is based on, and largely in line with, the EU Cohesion Policy experience of recent decades (aimed at the reduction of disparities between regions). This policy was significantly strengthened in the 1990s to provide assistance to weak member states and later was applied to meet the needs of new member states.

At the same time, it was important for the Programme to reflect - at least partially - on the Competitiveness Growth Policy as of the means achieving such cohesion and as of the means addressing the broader development needs. In the course of developing the Programme, these approaches have been considered as compatible with each other since in many instances, identical activities may address both policy concerns.. In future, whilst emphasizing the difference between these two approaches or using them in combination, necessity of some further clarification – which approach better serves the purpose of regional development in a particular period - might be needed.

Generally, this Programme is tailored to Georgia’s specific needs to a maximum extent and provides response to the most critical, primary and immediate needs of its regional development.

Georgia, compared to all EU member states, is less developed, therefore, to ensure development of basic infrastructure and stable services, using more resources than it is necessary for other EU countries is recommended (for both reducing disparities and increasing competitiveness).

Often, especially in small countries like Georgia, the competitiveness issue is managed more at national level, and, although relevant policies are duly supported at sub-national levels as well, priorities and measures of this particular Programme are more focused on the reduction of disparities and only partially, on increasing the competitiveness of the country and its regions. This is not, in any way, to suggest that competitiveness agenda for regional development is under-prioritized for the coming years.

A whole number of complex challenges and long-term vision of adequate responses have to be highlighted, namely: the most important and increasing factors of economic development are such complex services of business support as - research promotion, introduction of new technologies and innovations. This is also essential for bridging the gap with more developed nations and regions of the EU. It is important that Georgian regions emerge as key players for determining overall national success given that externalities and increasing returns - main drivers of growth and economic development - arise exactly at regional and local levels. Herewith, since 2002, the European Council has considered the Competitiveness Policy as the key macroeconomic instrument allowing citizens’ aspirations to be met not only via equalization policy, but also through knowledge-based, high efficiency economic development both at national and sub-national levels.

Chapter II. Current Situation Overview – Economic and Social Situation1

2.1 Geographic location and natural resources Map1. Location of Georgia Georgia is located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and is comparable in area to the Irish or Czech Republics. Historically, it has been an important crossroad for international trade and still is a significant corridor for oil and gas transit. The Baku - Tbilisi – Ceyhan oil pipeline and the South Caucasus gas pipeline go across southern regions of the country and play an important role in Europe’s Energy Security Policy. In addition, the planning and implementation of new projects to transport energy resources in an east-west direction through the country is quite promising.

The border with Russia to the north runs along the Greater Caucasus mountain range, with a height of 5000 meters. The southern border that separates the country from Turkey and Armenia lies on the Lesser Caucasus and the Javakheti Upland. The Greater Caucasus has always been a symbol of national and cultural identity. Moreover, the Caucasus Mountains offer hydroelectric and woodforest resources as well as tourist potential.

The western boundary of Georgia is formed by the Black Sea coast, while in the east the country is bordered by Azerbaijan. In spite of the fact that during the last century, the large part of lowland forests was cut down due to rural and urban development, 40% of the total area of the country is still covered by forests.

Georgia has important hydro-energy resources (that meet most of the overall energy requirements of the country). A variety of mineral waters in different varieties are also available, some of which are internationally recognised and are notable for successful commercial usage. At various times manganese, copper, gold, silver and iron have been successfully obtained in Georgia.

Except for primary data collected from various sources, other sources are also used in the diagnostic part of the document. The following are particularly important: 1) Urban Sector Strategy: “Georgia's evolving urban system and its challenges” prepared by the World Bank in 2013 and 2) “Report on Regional Disparities in the Republic of Georgia” prepared by the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET) within the framework of EU Technical Assistance Project.

2.2 Population and Demography

Since the country gained its state independence in 1991 the population growth rate has changed dramatically due to acute political conflicts and economic crisis. (See below diagram 1.1).

Population reduction was largely caused by migration. Georgia lost around 20% of its population in 1990-2005. The biggest loss was recorded in 1993-1997 when the Georgian population decreased by one million. However, according to National Statistics Office of Georgia, as of 2002 the population of Georgia began to grow again and reached 4.5 million by 2014.

During the 1990s the population decreased in all regions of the country, but this process was more evident in mountainous regions, mono-industrial cities and in towns with large proportions of ethnic minorities (Armenians and Azeries).

After gaining independence, quite a large number of refugees and internally displaced people appeared in Georgia due to political tensions and armed conflicts.

According to the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia, 253 574 refugees, i.e. 85 177 displaced families have been registered by April 8, 2014.

Population density, types and sizes of urban and rural settlements vary considerably in different regions. Plains (which contain main transport routes and the most fertile locations) and the Black Sea coastal area are more densely populated while mountainous regions, especially the Greater Caucasus, are inhabited sparsely.

The most obvious example of uneven distribution is the concentration of a significant part of the population in Tbilisi. More than a quarter of the population officially lives in Tbilisi, and if the surrounding area (including Rustavi and Mtskheta) is taken into consideration the ratio is nearly half.

However, according to official statistics, the regional population distribution has been generally the same since independence. It is possible these numbers reflect data weaknesses, rather than the real situation in regions.

Since gaining independence the most significant changes have been observed in Kvemo Kartli (population reduced from 13% to 11%) and in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti. In the latter, the portion of population increased from 9% to 11% (mostly due to large flow of refugees from Abkhazia – there are 50 000 IDP’s in Zugdidi alone, that is almost one third of the population of the Municipality).

Most of the internally displaced persons have been concentrated in large cities; more than one-third

of the total number of refugees lives in capital alone. Other major cities of concentration of IDP’s are:

Gori, Kutaisi and the neighbouring Tskaltubo.

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