Beneficiaries of community canteen selected in violation of set criteria in the Zugdidi Municipality
The Zugdidi Municipality Gamgeoba offers a community canteen service to citizens who have been granted 57,000 rating points or less by the Social Service Agency. However, according to the information provided to us by the Zugdidi Social Service Center, the socio-economic status of 20 beneficiaries of the community canteen is evaluated at over 57,000 rating points, while 23 beneficiaries are not even registered in the integrated database of socially unprotected families.
This year, the Zugdidi Municipality has allocated GEL 90,000 to a community canteen for 200 beneficiaries. The letter provided by the Zugdidi Municipality Gamgeoba states that when selecting beneficiaries, priority is given to those who are single, to families who have no breadwinners, and to families with several children who have 57,000 rating points or less. It can be inferred from the same information that the Zugdidi Municipality Gamgeoba fails to adhere to its own beneficiary selection criteria, for these people receiving aid either have rating points which exceed 57,000, or else do not appear in the database of socially vulnerable families at all.
There is one problematic issue worth mentioning here: pursuant to the acts regulating state allowances, those with no permanent residence or those who are homeless are not legally eligible to receive social assistance. Accordingly, the Social Service Agency cannot evaluate the socio-economic status of such citizens. These people, i.e the homeless and those living in the streets, are therefore unable to benefit from the community canteen service despite their socio-economic status being far graver than others.
Furthermore, pursuant to the acts regulating state allowances, it is equally impossible to evaluate the socio-economic status of those who don’t have IDs or whose IDs have expired. Thus, assuming that these people may also include persons below the poverty line, they will not be able to benefit from this canteen service if the Zugdidi Municipality Gamgeoba continues to use its current selection criteria.
We recommend for the Zugdidi Municipality Gamgeoba to amend the criteria for selecting the beneficiaries of a community canteen so that it neither violates its own rules, nor discriminates against beneficiaries for whom using the community canteen service is of vital importance. The Social Service of the Gamgeoba must probe into the real social status of each beneficiary and make decisions in light of pertinent conclusions.
In view of the Zugdidi Municipality case, we recommend the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia to develop a document built on concrete mechanisms and detailed methodology so that any person facing the real need of social assistance could benefit from this service. Furthermore, the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs must amend its regulations in such a way that the absence of a permanent residence or a (valid) ID card does not prevent the issuing of social assistance. This problem does not solely apply to the Municipality in question, it is a nation-wide concern which is in pressing need of a solution.