A Vision of Georgia
18 October, 2012

For the last nine years, the government of the United National Movement was in a rush. Immediately after Shevardnadze's resignation, we were told that time was limited and that we must act quickly. Later on, the rushing became a habit. Deadlines were adopted - sometimes an election, sometimes a state visit - and things happened quickly. Remember Rezo Nebieridze? He was the man from Zovreti near Zestaponi killed on 17 June by a wall that fell on him while building

the new parliament building in Kutaisi.


The advantage of threatening people into making deadlines is that it focuses them on moving quickly, and they move quickly. The problem is that they don't have good reasons to do quality work. This is why the pedestrian bridge to the big new Public Service Hall is so poorly constructed and why the elevated highways around Hero's Square are already structurally damaged. Working quickly also means you don't have to talk to anybody else. That is why the road in front of my house was torn up to fix the water pipes, repaved, and then torn up again a month later during construction on a new municipal office. Even the different parts of the city government have difficulty talking to each other because they are all trying to meet very difficult deadlines.  And anything outside their own deadlines is simply someone else's problem.


Here is a proposal for how to change this habit: what Georgia needs is a vision of what it will look like some time beyond the political horizon. Say at some point in six to twelve years from now. In the world of consulting they call this a vision document. This would be a book that would say what Georgia ought to look like in all sectors. It would make some assumptions about economic growth, the budget, demographics, and then, after some discussion, it would lay out some statistics. These would be realistic but they would be goals that we are working toward.


For example, at the selected date, how many people should work in agriculture, how much corn should Georgia produce, how many historical buildings in Tbilisi should be well-restored, how many military personnel does Georgia need in each rank, how much gas should Georgia import and from where, how much electricity ought to come from hydro stations, what form of local self-government ought there to be, what should be the size of pensions, how many doctors, nurses, and hospitals should there be, and where ought they to be located, how many police are needed in uniform, how many Interior Ministry personnel ought to be out of uniform, where will IDPs live, how many people will be in prisons, how many will be tried by jury, what will be the quality of roads, how much foreign investment will there be and from where, what ought to be the relationship with the EU, what will the budget be, how will regional or district budgets be allocated, how many tourists will come and from where? Questions like these and many others should be addressed and then compared with the current numbers.


Of course this brings up the question of whose vision will it be? Everybody has a view in some way in some sector on the direction Georgia should move over the next several years. There is the government as well as the parliament, and let's remember that these are supposed to be different. There are NGOs and membership organizations, there are members of the international community who have expertise in some of these issues or will be involved in funding them, there are Georgians living abroad, and perhaps most importantly there are regular citizens.


In many ways it would be an advantage if this were not an official government document because if that were the case they would have the responsibility to achieve it. It may make more sense for the government to say they