The Government of Georgia, with the support of the EU, awarded the first 11 municipalities under the Pilot Integrated Regional Development Programme with a total of GEL 5 million in grants in the area of local infrastructure and business development. These grants are part of the Government’s GEL 220 million Pilot Integrated Regional Development Grant Programme, of which GEL 186 million will come from EU funding. The aim of the programme is to promote a more balanced territorial development and improve living standards and conditions of the population in the regions through inclusive, smart and sustainable socio-economic means. The grant programme will be implemented in the municipalities of four focal regions in Georgia: Kakheti, Imereti, Guria and Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti.
These grants are part of the programme’s first phase which began in June 2020, when the first grant competition was announced in the municipalities of the pilot regions. The Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia (MRDI), in the framework of the Government Commission for Regional Development (GCRD), revealed the results of the first grant competition on 8 July. The municipalities of Vani, Sachkhere, Tkibuli, Samtredia, Baghdati, Tsageri, Sagarejo, Telavi, Akhmeta, Ozurgeti and Chokhatauri received funding in the amount of 5 million GEL.
“The implementation of this kind of programmes is crucially important today. The assistance to be provided by the EU for the next 3 years, is in line with the European standards for regional policy planning and implementation. With this programme, our cooperation with the EU is moving to a qualitatively new and important stage, which, I think, also implies the further enhancement and strengthening of the degree of credibility of the EU towards Georgia. It should also be noted that the programme also introduces the principles of establishing competitive relations between municipalities, which is very important in the process of decentralization and in the emergence and strengthening of new skills at the municipal level.” – stated Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, Maya Tskitishvili.
“The development of Georgian regions is a priority for the EU, and with this programme the EU hopes to ensure that this development is balanced and not just focussed on the main cities of Tbilisi and Batumi. We have worked hard with the Government to put the proper structures in place and are happy to see them in action. We look forward to providing over GEL 186 million through our EU4ITD programme to make this initiative a success” - said Vincent Rey, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Georgia.
The appraisal and selection for funding of the municipal projects was carried out by the Regional Consultative Councils (RCC) that comprise municipal Mayors and Heads of Councils, as well as CSOs and business community members as observers. The funding will allow the winning municipalities to realize important projects covering various areas, such as support to SMEs, improvement of key infrastructure and municipal services, improvement of human capital, education and research institutions, increase the quality and effectiveness of institutions, etc. These initiatives, in line with ongoing sectoral EU-funded programmes and projects, will boost investment and employment in targeted regions.
The development of regional policy in Georgia is an important area of the EU-Georgia cooperation under the Association Agreement. The Pilot Integrated Regional Development Programme 2020-2022, co-financed through the budget support scheme by the EU, was approved by the Government in December 2019. The programme follows the European model of regional development and is implemented for the first time among the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries in Georgia.