Tags: georgia | US | aid

U.S. Provides Healthcare, Pensions for Georgia – the Country

Thursday, 18 Dec 2008 10:05 AM

By Nat Helms

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The United States is paying $751 million for healthcare, government pensions and salaries, school vouchers, and low-cost mortgages for the citizens of Georgia — the Republic of Georgia, that is.

According to the U.S. State Department, the payout is part of a $1 billion economic aid package for the former Soviet republic that President George W. Bush approved after Georgia’s disastrous five-day war with the Russian Federation in August. To date, about $310 million has been provided to Georgia. Another $447 million has either been allocated for specific projects and activities or is in the process of being allocated.

“The $243 million balance of the U.S. commitment will need to be requested by the next administration and appropriated by the next U.S. Congress,” the State Department official said.

“In the context of falling revenues in the aftermath of the [Georgian/Russian] conflict, direct budget support will enable Georgia to meet its fiscal responsibilities as it faces extraordinary expenditures to address both the needs of internally displaced persons and economic reconstruction,” according to a statement the State Department released last week.

William Easterly, an economics professor at New York University and author of "The White Man’s Burden: How the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good," said the State Department revelations “sound like the bad old days of the cold war, of showering whoever is the enemy of Russia with tons of money,”

In addition to the $1 billion Georgian aid package, the U.S. is providing Georgia another $100 million on top of an existing $295 million grant for rehabilitation of roads connecting central Georgia to neighboring Turkey. The grant also will pay for water and sewer projects around the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, as well as repairs to a gas pipeline damaged during recent fighting.

The U.S. government-owned Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will finance the projects following a treaty signed Nov. 21 by Georgian Prime Minister Grigol Mgaloblishvili and MCC CEO John Danilovich, the State Department said.

The aid package “also subverts the MCC, which is clearly supposed to be ‘pure’ aid based only on what promotes economic growth for poor countries, not be a tool of the administration's geostrategic agenda,” Easterly tells Newsmax.

Georgians also will benefit from $176 million provided by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), an agency of the U.S. government created in 1971 to foster economic development in new and emerging markets. OPIC operates “on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to taxpayers,” according to the OPIC Web site.

Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev has said the bloody conflict, which left as many as 150,000 people displaced or homeless, proves that Washington has “forfeited its place at the heart of the world order.” Medvedev added that NATO needs to be replaced with a new European security pact without U.S. participation.

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