Govt Announces Assistance Package for Hailstorm Victims
Households affected by heavy rains, strong wind and hail will be divided into three categories depending on level of damage inflicted and receive financial compensations ranging from GEL 300 to GEL 1,500, PM Vano Merabishvili said on July 20.
Those whose farmlands have been completely destroyed will be eligible to a state-funded financial compensation from GEL 1,300 to GEL 1,500 each. Households who have lost 70-80% of their crops will receive from GEL 800 to Gel 900 and the third category will involve families who have lost half of their crops and they will receive from GEL 300 to Gel 500 in compensations.
It is not yet clear total of how many families will be eligible to this financial compensation.
PM Merabishvili also announced about the government’s plan to assist those farmers who have bank loans and whose farmlands were destroyed. He said that the state will cover interest rate of these loans during one year.
Number of farmers falling in this category and an amount of financial support that is planned to be allocated from the state budget for this purpose were not also immediately clear. According to FINCA Georgia, a microfinance organization, about 700 of its clients had been affected by hailstorm.
PM Merabishvili also said that as part of an immediate relief effort, the government would also start handing out free of charge to the affected families flour, edible oil and sugar, as well as pesticides and fuel.
In televised remarks at a meeting with government members late on Thursday, President Saakashvili said that “the damage is huge, perhaps in hundreds of millions.”
“I want to tell my sisters, brothers and compatriots: we will take care of you,” Saakashvili said. “Of course we are not a very rich country and I have no illusion that we will be able to fully reimburse the damage… but I think that we will help first and foremost fully to the most vulnerable people.”
PM Merabishvili also said on July 20, that the state would fully repair roofs of houses and buildings or build new ones where needed.
President Saakashvili said on July 20, that it was the first time in Georgia’s recent history when the state was planning to provide “assistance of this scale.”
Parliament is expected to be convened for an extraordinary session next week to endorse budgetary amendments to allocate funds for relief efforts.