As the balloting draws near, rarely a week goes by without an announcement of a new benefit or social program. Pensions and teachers' salaries are going up. Vouchers for gas and electricity are going out. City Hall is pledging to cover seniors’ medication costs and give them free public-transit passes. The city’s social-welfare budget has tripled since last year, according to a EurasiaNet report. The initiatives are often personally introduced to voters by Mayor Gigi Ugulava, an ally of President Mikheil Saakashvili, before the cameras of pro-government national TV stations.
They came and asked us about the vouchers for electricity and gas. They thought they could take a loan from our energy efficiency credit line. We explained very patiently that loans had to be paid back. They asked if we had any other ideas on how to reduce the cost of electricity and gas to households. Knowing it was coming up to the election, we weren't as anxious to help as we might have been with a serious request.
We explained very carefully, that the normal way was to pay social security, but they had just abolished that. Otherwise, paying half the money from the City, which it didn't have, was just printing money, which led to inflation.
They obviously didn't like that.