|Georgian economy out of difficult trough—President|
|February 29, 2012|
The economy of the South Caucasus country of Georgia has passed its hardest test, said Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in his annual State-of-the-Nation address to the parliament on Tuesday.
"Our country has already overcome main problems," said the president in his hour-long address. "The economy of Georgia has already withstood the hardest test. The process of progress, which is now evident, will quicker and quicker involve Georgian families. "
The president, who made his last State-of-the-Nation address toward the end of his two five-year presidential terms, said his government had worked out an additional five-point plan to help turn successes of the country into successes of each citizen in the country.
"The first one (point) is employment," Saakashvili explained to lawmakers. "The biggest task for the government is employment of people who cannot find stable jobs. I understand very well that successes of the country is measured not by figures, ratings or articles published in foreign newspapers, but by prosperity of the population."
The president talked about further development in the tourism sector, where each million of tourists create an additional 15,000 jobs in Georgia.
"By 2015 the number of tourists will increase with at least 2 million, which will create more than 30,000 jobs, meaning 30,000 people will feel that tourism development, building roads and hotels, making our city beautiful, for which we are often criticized (for), is in fact their future job and stable income."
Official figures have put Georgian jobless rate at around 18 percent, but unofficial estimates put it at above 30 percent for the country which has a workforce of 1.4 million.
Before his annual address to the parliament, the president led a one-minute silence to show respect to the latest Georgian casualties in Afghanistan.
Three of the Georgian servicemen died last week in Afghanistan while taking part in the ISAF mission in the Afghan province of Helmand. Georgia has so far lost 15 of its servicemen in Afghanistan.
The parliament is still in session discussing the president's address through debates between the majority and minority factions and non-affiliated members of parliament.
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