Georgian Subsistence Minimum Means Starving
09 August, 2012
Georgian Subsistence Minimum Means Starving

Georgian subsistence minimum calculation methodology should be revised and tailored to Georgian reality as its current level actually equals to starving. 

The meager subsistence minimum reduced by 5% from  January of 2012,  by June shrunk from GEL 263.7 per average four-member family to GEL 249.9 respectively. Subsistence minimum for an able-body man dropped from GEL 157.2 to GEL 149 in the similar period that means that a mature man who spent GEL 5.24 per day in January must live on GEL

4.96 that equals about USD 3 per day. This sum includes transportation and communal service costs for heating and electricity as well.

According to Tengiz Tsekvava, Deputy Director Executive of Geostat-Georgian statistics body, the dwindling tendency of subsistence minimum is defined by price slump on products, and experts agree explaining the factors by seasonal effect. However experts still question relevance of Georgian subsistence minimum meaning to starving as a matter of fact.

Tsekvava argues the methodology is as right as possible.

“The subsistence calculation method is based on expense structure of Georgian households. Consequently, it is as close to Georgian reality as possible,” Tsekvava commented to Georgian Journal. “Besides the subsistence minimum is based on minimum food basket consisting of 40 units approved by ministry of labor, health and social care.”

According to him, 70% of the subsistence figure is made by food-stuff related expenses and 30% comes on non-food expenses. The food-stuff expenses are calculated based on food basket approved by the special order of the ministry of labor and healthcare of Georgia in 2003 stipulating that 2300 kilocalories per day are sufficient for a persons’ existence unlike the US where the similar figure exceeds 3700 kilocalories whatsoever.

Georgian economic analysts think Geostat that uses internationally acknowledged calculation methodology should revise the technique so as to tailor it to Georgian reality and provide with trustful statistics giving a real picture of human existence in the country.

“According to UN standards if a daily income is less than USD 2 it means that a person is starving in fact”, Irakli Lekvinadze, an economic analyst, told Georgian Journal. “GEL 4.96 per day for an able-body man who most probably goes on work and needs transportation is much below par of living standards. Apart of food a man spends at least GEL 1.60 per day on transport costs that means he can spend GEL 3. 36 on food that can be enough for bread and sugar. It cannot be assumed that a man can live on that.” Indeed nobody can buy on that money such essential products as meat recommended twice per week and costing about GEL 12.50, dairy products [a liter of milk costs GEL2.60 alone], vegetables and fruit – all important minimum components to keep body in healthy condition.

Soso Archuadze, an economic analyst, believes the subsistence minimum must be at least doubled and share of food and non-food staff be equal to 50-50% to reflect Georgian living standards.  He thinks it is a mistake to separate subsistence minimum and poverty level as Geostat does, for in pursuance with the developed world, they are viewed as equal by concept.

“Actually in the developed countries subsistence minimum is the same as the poverty level, they are equal and should not be separated. It means that if a person lives on subsistence minimum he/she is already on the brim of poverty. In the US, if a family spends more than one-third of income on food, it is estimated as poor. And a daily minimum is more than 3700 kilocalories there,” Archuadze said in the interview with GJ.”There is no doubt that the subsistence minimum calculation methodology in Georgia should be revised.”

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