Participants of the visit included Sigrid Brettel, Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, Mzia Giorgobiani, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, Davit Songulashvili, Majoritarian MP from Gurjaani, Sighnaghi, Dedoplistskaro and Sagarejo Municipalities and representatives of local government.
The 10 visited projects are part of the EU’s and MRDI’s joint programme on regional development in Kakheti They include:
“The EU cares about Georgia’s regions. Within our joint programme together with the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, we are working in four focal regions to help local citizens benefit directly from better conditions. This will help improve balance, not only between rural and urban areas, but also between businesses and the environment. In the EU, we have learned that regions develop better and more sustainably when local people and authorities take decisions themselves. It is great to see some of these decisions coming into fruition here in Kakheti,” stated Sigrid Brettel, Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.
“More than GEL 50 million has been allocated for projects to be implemented in Kakheti alone within the framework of the Pilot Integrated Territorial Development Programme. To date, 15 infrastructural projects worth more than GEL 10 million have already been funded, although we expect an additional 40 new project proposals from the municipalities. It should be noted that the evaluation and selection of projects is based on the sharing of European best practices of regional development, which implies a bottom-up process of setting priorities in municipalities. All municipalities have the opportunity to make decisions based on local needs, which is also important in terms of decentralization,” stated Deputy Minister Mzia Giorgobiani.
About Pilot Integrated Regional Development Programme (PiRDP)
Pilot Integrated Regional Development Programme (PIRDP) for Georgia 2020-2022 is a government programme based on EU regional development policy. It aims to create a favourable environment for promoting balanced and sustainable socio-economic development through integrated territorial development initiatives in four pilot regions of Kakheti, Imereti, Guria and Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti. PiRDP has a budget of 220 million GEL, of which 186 million GEL will be provided by the EU.
The programme is implemented by the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia (MRDI). The first set of grants with a total financial envelope 5 million GEL were awarded to 11 projects in Vani, Sachkhere, Tkibuli, Samtredia, Baghdati, Tsageri, Sagarejo, Telavi, Akhmeta, Ozurgeti and Chokhatauri municipalities in July 2020. In 2021, 54 projects worth GEL 49.1 million have already been funded, and in 2022, projects worth more than GEL 100 million are planned to be funded. In addition, grants worth GEL 40 million are aimed to support micro, small and medium enterprises, as well as innovations.
PiRDP is based on bottom-up, decentralised approach with the appraisal and selection for funding of the municipal projects carried out by Regional Consultative Councils (RCC) that comprise municipal Mayors and Heads of Councils, as well as CSOs and business community members as observers. The project idea developed by the municipality must be approved by the relevant municipal council before it is submitted to the regional administration. 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 regional development in Georgia is an important policy 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.
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