The (Non)living Wage
27 August, 2015
The (Non)living Wage
Recent calculations by Statistics Service have established that life is now cheaper and it’s possible to live on just 137 GEL per month . Apparently, in July, as compared to June, the living wage of an average Georgian decreased from 143 GEL to 137.8 GEL. According to Statistics Service, this was caused by seasonal factors and the local fruits and vegetables becoming cheaper; but in reality, with all the price hikes and diminishing incomes, survival is becoming even more difficult.

As calculated by statisticians, an ab­le-bodied man needs a bit more than 155.6 GEL for survival, while a medium-sized family needs 261 GEL.

The Statistics Service calculates the living wage in accordance with the goods basket that was drawn up by the Healthcare Ministry in 2003, adjusting it to the needs of an able-bodied man. The basket reflects the daily ration of 40 obligatory products necessary for a person’s existence and in case you only consume 250g of bread, 20g of beans and 5g of confectionery, you may even keep some change from the 5 GEL of supposed daily living wage.

It’s interesting that this supposed wage takes neither communal nor medical costs into consideration. Apparently, the state does not consider medicines or medical services to be necessary for survival either, and regards half an egg and 10g of meat as a perfect daily ration. It’s even more paradoxical that the state-determined living wage fluctuates between 137 and 155 GEL, yet Georgians below the poverty line only receive 60 GEL in welfare.

Apparently, the state does not consider medicines or medical services to be necessary for survival either, and regards half an egg and 10g of meat as a perfect daily ration.

Soso Archvadze, economics expert:

“Methodology used by the National Statistics Service for calculating the living wage is actually based upon the structure and formats that were formed in the middle of 1990s and are grossly obsolete today. Since then, both incomes and expenditures, as well the culture of consumption itself, have considerably changed and accordingly, the methodology is to be reviewed. Depending on what we include in the living wage, the value of a goods basket will change drastically. For instance, the cost of calories having animal origin is 2.5 times higher than that of plant-derived ones. Accordingly, if we fill the goods basket with vegetable products, 155 GEL may just be enough, but will it be sufficient for an adequate existence? These statistics show that our state resembles an ostrich with its head stuck in sand nowadays.
Both the people and the media should exert pressure on authorities and they, in turn, should demand that the Statistics Service change the methodology of calculating the living wage. Most importantly, the basket does not account for inflation, which makes it look simply ridiculous.”

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