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Issue no: 1208/209

• DECEMBER 3 - 5, 2019

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

FOCUS ON TOTAL CHARM Bringing production back to its homeland, we meet the team behind the renowned Aptos Threads

PAGE 9

PRICE: GEL 2.50

In this week’s issue... Weekly Entrepreneurial News @entrepreneur.ge NEWS PAGE 2

Georgia, Azerbaijani & Turkey Inaugurate Historic TANAP Project BUSINESS PAGE 3

The Retail Trade Sector Optimistic for the Holiday Season ISET PAGE 4

The Washington Times Reports on the Vital Strategic Importance of Georgia BUSINESS PAGE 5 Konstantin Sulamanidze

Georgian Economy Grows by 5.7% in October

Entrepreneur Shop: A New Online Store of Georgian Production BUSINESS PAGE 8

BY TEA MARIAMIDZE

ARDI Develops Partnership with Acibadem Healthcare Group, a World-Renowned Hospital Network

T

he Georgian economy saw a 5.7% increase in October. The information was released by the National Statistics Office (Geostat), which says that the real growth was registered in manufacturing, hotels and restaurants, information and communication. Geostat’s preliminary report reads that the average estimated real GDP growth equaled 5.1% for the first ten months of 2019 year-on-year (y-o-y), adding a decrease was registered in mining and quarrying and in arts, entertainment and recreation activities. Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Natia Turnava says that the government spares no effort to see the highest possible growth of the Georgian economy.

BUSINESS PAGE 10

Tbilisi’s Car Problem SOCIETY PAGE 11 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by

Markets

Image source: industrywired.com

Asof29ͲNovͲ2019

STOCKS

“We are doing our best to achieve high economic growth in the country, but the most important thing for our people is not the growth figures themselves, but the employment and social benefits that lie ahead. Such economic growth can be achieved by the creation of new jobs, which will be seen through the privatization of the objects we recently offered to businesses,” the Minister said, while commenting on the economic growth and the list of 100 privatization objects published by the ministry two days ago. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia says that the number of jobs, education, security, and rapid economic growth are important. He further noted the Georgian economy managed to grow by 5.1% in the last 10 months. Continued on page 7

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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 3 - 5, 2019

On the Protests & 2020 Elections @entrepreneur.ge Gamarjoba! I’m the Editor-in-Chief of the Georgian edition of Entrepreneur magazine and I’m here to share the top weekly Entrepreneurial news with you: ‘Chini’ is a new Georgian brand that has just joined the local market offering suitcase hoods that carry the Georgian identity. Maka Gurgeniani and her daughter Irinka Tsakadze, lovers of traveling, were inspired three years ago. After finding the right fabrics, atelier, and suppliers, the founders decided to put their creation into patriotic work – making the suitcase hoods the ‘ambassadors’ of Georgia through the Georgian alphabet, Georgian flag, ‘borderization’, “Georgia is Occupied by Russia” and Georgian painters. Chini plans include the expansion of output, as well as themes. Georgian restaurant ‘Barbarestan’ has found a new source of acknowledgment. The fine-dining place is now among the 50 Best Discoveries, a database updated every year that helps food enthusiasts find the top 50 restaurants and bars to go to around the world. “A traditional family restaurant with recipes based on those in legendary writer and chef Barbare Jorjadze’s original cookbook of 19th-century Georgian classics. A real chance to discover forgotten but authentic Georgian food in an interior matched to those times: an eclectic mix of soft lampshades, lace tablecloths, and vintage crockery.” The author of the concept, branding, interior design and F&B menu of Barbarestan is the team behind ‘Gastronaut’. Babale won the Social Enterprise of the Year title at the 8th Social Enterprise Forum. Babale is an outstanding Georgian social enterprise creating and developing equal work environments for those with special needs. They aim to give these people a pleasant workplace, to provide them with professional information, to develop their working skills, and to strengthen and support them financially. The founder of Babale, Lia Tabatadze, started with 10,000 GEL and a very small circle of parents organizing small-scale social activities to raise awareness of Down’s Syndrome in Georgian society. They soon began creating high-quality products. Follow the Entrepreneur Georgia Instagram page to get the latest updates from Georgian Entrepreneurs. For doing business with Georgian Entrepreneurs, write us on business@entrepreneur.ge

T

he leader of ‘New Georgia’ party Giorgi Vashadze announced that next week the protest rallies will continue in regions throughout

the country. Vashadze added that the opposition is waiting for the OSCE`s (Organization for Security and Co operation in Europe) conclusion on the draft law created by the opposition in regard to the electoral system, after which the date of the most large-scale rally will be defined. "The rallies will initially be held in Kutaisi. We are waiting for the Legal Issues Committee before we picket Parliament. Most likely, this will happen on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday," he said. On November 30, a meeting between the ruling Georgian Dream party and parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition took place at the Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the diplomatic corps. This was the first meeting between the two sides following Parliament’s rejection of an electoral bill which offered an early transition to a fully proportional electoral system. The so-called German Model of elections was the main topic of discussion. On November 29, the parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition offered the government a new model for the 2020 elections. About 30 parties authored the initiative, including European Georgia, United National Movement, Lelo, Development Movement, Democratic Movement - United Georgia and others. The leaders of the parties signed the document on the same day, noting that the draft will be sent to the OSCE, and in case of positive recommendation, they will submit the document as a legislative initiative to Parliament. The document reads that the Parliament shall consist of 77 members elected under the proportional system and 73 members elected under the majoritarian

system. As a result of the elections held under the proportional system, the seats will be distributed among the political parties and election blocs that receive at least 3% of votes. The rules and terms for participation in elections, as well as the rules for the distribution of seats, shall be determined by the election law. In addition, every voter registered in a multi-mandate constituency shall have the right to give one vote to a majoritarian candidate and the other vote to a party. However, the meeting held at the Biltmore on November 30 ended without results and no agreement was reached on the so-called 'German Model' of elections. Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani said after the six-hour meeting that the “German model” suggested by the parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition is 'anti-constitutional'. “This meeting has once again demonstrated that the German model is not in line with the Georgian Constitution,” Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze said after the meeting. He said it is possible that political consultations could be held in the future. "The first meeting took place, which

reaffirmed what we have repeatedly said about the opposition and what our international partners have said- that such a meeting between the political parties would be a good format for exchanging arguments. Today, it happened. This meeting has once again shown that the so-called German model is not in compliance with the Constitution of Georgia, so it is impossible to implement it through the form and initiative offered by the opposition. We do not rule out that such political consultations may take place in the future. We are ready to continue political consultations, both today and in the future,” Talakvadze said. United National Movement leader Grigol Vashadze said the meeting ended without results because the ruling party refused to discuss the electoral model offered by the opposition. Nevertheless, he said, the opposition is ready to continue a dialogue along with protest rallies. "If the government does not intend to agree and discuss any proposal, it means that the meeting aims just to score points with the diplomats," claimed Nino Burjanadze, leader of the 'Democratic Movement.' Continued on page 10


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 3 - 5, 2019

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Georgia, Azerbaijani & Turkey Inaugurate Historic TANAP Project BY TEA MARIAMIDZE

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eorgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey officially inaugurated the historic Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project in Ipsala, Turkey’s Edirne province, on November 30. The Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia, together with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, participated in the official event dedicated to the completion of the project. "The leaders of the countries participating in the project jointly pressed a button to launch natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe for the first time within this project,” the Georgian PM’s Press Office reports. Prior to the ceremony, a video clip highlighting the implementation of the TANAP project, which is one of the most important segments of the Southern Gas Corridor and a key factor in ensuring the energy security of Europe, was screened. “Honored to attend TANAP Inauguration Ceremony for European Connection, marking a new era in European energy security architecture. This project will bring more opportunities for our people & will strengthen our region's role as an East-West energy corridor,” Georgian PM tweeted after the official ceremony. Gakharia stated that this project underlines Georgia’s transit function

Image source: Georgian government

even more and it is very important for the country to fulfill the function and role of a bridge not only in terms of economics, politics, society and culture, but also in terms of energy too. “When the TANAP project has already reached the European borders and allows the transportation of Azerbaijani gas through Georgia, of course, Georgia's transit function gains both a political and economic dimension for strengthening and developing our economy,” the PM noted.

During the event, the Turkish President noted that the TANAP is the most important part of the 3,500-kilometer (2,174-mile) energy corridor which extends from Azerbaijan to Europe. He added that Bulgaria, Greece, North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina would also benefit from the mega project, and that TANAP was a project of "regional peace." Azerbaijani President Aliyev said the TANAP is an international cooperation project that essentially unites seven

countries on the Southern Gas Corridor. "This project brings cooperation, stability, and long-term agreement," he added. TANAP is the most important link of the Southern Gas Corridor, designed to transport natural gas produced from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz-2 field initially to Turkey and onwards to Europe. The section of pipeline from the Turkish border with Georgia until Eskisehir of Turkey was launched in an international opening ceremony on June 12,

2018 with the flow of commercial gas to Turkey from June 30, 2018. The final mechanical work in the pipeline between Eskisehir and the TurkishGreek border was completed at the end of 2018 with the first test pumping held in April 2019. The legal framework for the TANAP project was established in 2012. The final investment decision on the project was adopted on December 17, 2013. The construction work began in 2015 following the ground-breaking ceremony in Kars. The first phase of TANAP from the Turkish-Georgian border to Eskisehir was completed in June 2018. Its opening ceremony was held on June 12, 2018 and attended by the leaders of the two countries. Transportation of the first commercial gas to Turkey began on June 30, 2018. The second phase of the project from Eskisehir to Turkish-Greek border was successfully completed by the end of June 2019. At the first stage, 16 billion cubic meters and later 31 billion cubic meters of natural gas will be transported through the pipeline. As of today, Georgia gets 5% of the total gas for the transit of Azerbaijani gas to Turkey. The transit gas fee amounts to 300 million cubic meters of natural gas per year for Georgia for the transit of 6 billion cubic meters of gas transported from Azerbaijan to Turkey. In future, when 23 billion cubic meters of natural gas will pass through the Southern Gas Corridor via Georgia, the country will receive more than 1.1 billion cubic meters of natural gas as a transit fee annually.

AGHMASHENELI AVENUE 178; 0112 TBILISI — GEORGIA; T +995 (32) 222 10 35; F +995 (32) 222 10 73; EMAIL: HA1L2@ACCOR.COM


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 3 - 5, 2019

The Retail Trade Sector Optimistic for the Holiday Season small proportion of businesses that believe their business conditions will worsen.

SALES PRICE EXPECTATIONS The sales price expectations index decreased from 12.9 points (Q3 2019) to 11.3 points (Q4 2019). The descent is mostly driven by a decline in the agricultural and service sectors. While, the overall sales price expectations index has decreased moderately for both SMEs and large companies. Around 65% of all firms surveyed are not intending to change their prices over

B

USINESS CONFIDENCE INDEX Q4 2019

After registering a record low value in the previous quarter, the BCI has recovered by 10.2 points compared to Q3 2019. Expectations in the Georgian private sector increased by 9.5 index points, rising to 31.3. Moreover, business performance over the past three months has increased significantly, reaching 26.9 points (up from -0.5), indicating an upturn in production, turnover, and sales. Thus, the rise in both business expectations and past performance has led to an increase in the overall BCI. Compared to the previous quarter, the sales price expectation index has decreased slightly; however, the share of business owners who expect

an increase in their sales prices remains high. The BCI increased in most economic sectors, namely in the retail trade (33.2), construction (28.1), service (8.5), financial (4.6), and manufacturing (3.8) sectors. One exception was agriculture, in which the BCI declined by 33.4 index points. Business confidence in the fourth quarter of 2019 has dropped for SMEs (-1.5), though it has increased for large firms (12.6). Past performance: Businesses’ actual performance increased by 27.4 points compared to Q3 of 2019. In Q4, of the 123 firms surveyed, sales (production or turnover) increased from -0.5 (Q3 2019) to 26.9 (Q4 2019).

A significant upsurge in performance was observed in retail trade (85.7), service (36.1), construction (31.7), and finance (13.5). The substantial increase in these sectors highlights that the weighted balance between positive and negative responses increased compared to the previous quarter. In the remaining sectors, production, turnover, and sales for the past three months have decreased: in agriculture (-46.2) and manufacturing (-46.0). Business activities have improved for both SMEs and large businesses.

EXPECTATIONS The expectations index increased by 9.5 index points in Q4 2019. Prospects about the next three months improved for most

business sectors; the one exception being agriculture (-38.7). The greatest increase was reported in retail trade (40.3). Business expectations have, on the whole, improved for large firms but worsened for SMEs. The majority (72%) of the surveyed businesses do not expect any changes in employment over the next three months. Furthermore, only 15% of firms stated that they would hire more employees in the future. Around 37% of the firms surveyed expect the economic condition of their businesses to improve over the next three months. While, 42% do not imagine any changes in the future, leaving a

the next three months. Only 6% of firms expect to decrease their prices, and the remaining 29% will consider increasing their prices in the future. A lack of demand and limited access to financing continue to be the most significant obstacles, particularly for SMEs. Large companies also mention a shortage in the labor force as a further hindrance. It should be noted that the present BCI results may be overestimated, as the survey only covers businesses currently operating and not those that have already exited the market. Accordingly, firms still in operation are, to some extent, more likely to have a negative outlook.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 3 - 5, 2019

The Washington Times Reports on the Vital Strategic Importance of Georgia

BY BEKA ALEXISHVILI

A

cross Europe and Asia, geopolitical strategies and approaches are readjusting and, as The Washington Times reports, they are puzzle pieces which “converge in the Caucasus region." The Caucasus includes three post-soviet nations, which are Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Georgia is positioned on the Caucasus land-bridge between Europe and Asia, between the Black and Caspian Seas. Over the millenniums, it has been attacked by the Persians, the Ottomans, the Russians and the Mongolians. Every time, Georgians have pushed back their invaders, and in harsh fought battles they have liberated their country. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia surfaced once again an independent, sovereign nation in the midst of this unstable crossroads. “Georgia is the key” of the Caucasus. It is at the center of the action and the incentives for the United States could not be higher. China is astride Eurasia with its impressive Belt and Road Initiative. “Russia, in decline, seeks to attach itself to China’s dynamism while preserving a footprint as

the hegemon of the post-Soviet space”, The Washington Times accurately analyzes the detrimental Russian presence throughout the region. On the other hand, it says, Central Asia shows its economic potential through important policy reforms, while Erdogan’s Turkey “flirts with new visions of its strategic importance in a non-European future.” “Georgia has a stable and democratic government that has been working hard to forge closer ties with Western Europe and the United States, especially in recent years. However, this is a route that must be navigated with skill and precision,” Wes Martin, an analyst for the Washington Times, states China, Russia, the United States and Europe all pursue opportunities to gain strategic advantage, enhance stability and promote economic development. These strategic routes intersect in the Caucasus, where all of the key players seek to “develop positions of political influence where the NorthSouth and East-West axes overlap,” The Washington Times writes. As Washington’s relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan remain problematic due to the NagornoKarabakh conflict, ongoing since 1988 a “pro-Western Georgia alongside Israel is America’s most committed, reliable friend and ally in the wider region.”

US Spending Cuts to NATO Will be Used on Georgia and Ukraine

BY BEKA ALEXISHVILI

A

head of NATO’s 70th-anniversary summit, which will take place in London, Trump announced that he will be decreasing the US’s contribution to the North-Atlantic Alliance. US has maintained and provided 22% of NATO’s direct funding. Now, according to the new formula of separating costs, the US contribution is to fall to 16%, while Germany provides 14.8%. "All Allies have agreed on a new cost-sharing formula. Within the new formula, cost shares attributed to most European Allies and Canada will

increase, while the US share will decrease. This is an important demonstration of the Allies' commitment to the Alliance and to fairer burden-sharing," a NATO official remarked to the American media. One US defense official said that the money saved by the US will help fund other US military and security efforts in Europe, including programs in countries such as non-NATO members Ukraine and Georgia, which are seen as being on the frontline with Russia. Trump has long criticized NATO members, particularly Germany for not meeting the 2% (of GDP) NATO defense spending target, which only 8 of the 29 members currently meet. All members pledged to reach the 2% level by 2024 but not all of them currently have plans or the affordability to do so.

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 3 - 5, 2019

Finland’s General-Major Harri OhraAho on Hybrid Threats & Russia INTERVIEW BY VAZHA TAVBERIDZE

N

ovember 30 marked the 80th anniversary of the Winter War, a David and Goliath struggle between Finland and the Soviet Union. Officially, Finland lost, and the USSR seized the Karelian Isthmus, but why is it that the whole world considers Finland victorious? General-Major Harri Ohra-Aho shared some of the muchneeded Finnish know-how on dealing with the big neighbor with the Georgian Institute for Security.

WHEN TALKING ABOUT GEORGIA IN TERMS OF HYBRID THREATS, WE BASICALLY MEAN RUSSIA, WHICH IS THE NUMBER ONE SUPPLIER WHEN IT COMES TO HYBRID THREATS TO GEORGIA. IS THE SAME THE CASE IN FINLAND? We don't point at any country: we are defending our country as a militarily non-aligned country wherever necessary, but of course we are following events closely. Sweden and Estonia belong to the same union, the European Union, and Norway is one of our best neighbors, which is part of NATO, and of course we are following very carefully what is happening in Russia, we don't see that Russia is a “military threat” as such, but then again we see the situation between Russia and the West with all the sanctions, what Russia has done in illegally annexing Crimea, the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine, and before that what happened in Georgia in 2008 and the two occupied areas of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

IN THE PAST, FINLAND ALSO LOST LAND TO RUSSIA. DOES THAT PLAY ANY ROLE IN THE PERCEPTION OF RUSSIA IN FINNISH SOCIETY? What our grandfathers and grandmothers did during the Winter War and Second World War was very bravely done. We were totally alone during the Winter War and then after the war we lost 10% of our land and had to relocate all the Finnish people who lived in the area, 400,000 people, all over Finland and of course that was a very sad thing. But what was even more important is that our independence prevailed.

WHAT’S THE SECRET OF THE FINNISH RESILIENCE? We have to remember that we have had our own liberation war, civil war, in 1918, there were brothers against brothers in Finland and after 20 years we stood together to repel an attacker in what we call the “Wonder of the Winter War.” That will to defend our country is the main reason for that resilience and actually some way or another both sides, which had been fighting against each other, stood together. We understood the behavior of the Soviet Union, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 which was signed just before Germany invaded Poland, and on the 17th of September the Soviet Union started their invasion and we were part of that pact so we mobilized all the troops that we had and joined. I'm very appreciative of not only the men but also the women who participated.

YOU MENTIONED THE WILL TO DEFEND ONE’S COUNTRY. HOW MUCH DOES THIS WILL PERSIST IN MODERN DAY FINNISH SOCIETY? It persists very much because we have a universal military conscription for males and also on a voluntary basis for females, and when we ask the conscripts “how willing are you to defend your country from five to one?” it has been 4.5 for every contingency. We also question all citizens in Finland “are you willing to defend your country with a weapon in your hand if the outcome is not sure?” and it's almost 80% who are willing to do so. If you compare that to the whole of Europe, it is the highest number.

DID THE FINNISH POPULATION RECONCILE THEMSELVES WITH THAT? Just after the war, when four hundred thousand Finnish people were relocated throughout Finnish territory from Karelian Isthmus, of course they wanted to move back to their own farms, but the time was really difficult and dangerous in the last years of the 1940s, after which it was really difficult for Finland to be a neutral country between the rising Soviet Union and the rest of Europe. We tried to be realistic and pragmatic, there was a society called the Karelian Society who really promoted the idea that one day we would go back, but though it happened decades ago, it's ongoing for the second or third generation now and that's why we try to be pragmatic. When we

Image source: svenska.yle.fi

look at the Russian leadership now, it’s no longer a tendency to talk about getting back Karelian Isthmus; it's not an issue anymore.

BUT LEADERSHIPS CHANGE… Sure, of course, but we really are rather realistic, especially in this situation, so sorry to say this, but it's different country.

LOTS OF GEORGIANS MIGHT LABEL THAT A PESSIMISTIC APPROACH WHEN WE CONSIDER OUR OWN OCCUPIED TERRITORIES. WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE ON THIS? I don't want to give advice to other countries. You have a really difficult situation that's for sure, and the good thing is that the countries that have recognized the breakaway regions as independent are few. International society is with Georgia in that sense. As to what to do to get them back, I’m not in a position to recommend your national leadership what to do.

FINLAND IS NOT PART OF NATO AND IS A MILITARILY NON-ALIGNED COUNTRY. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE NON-ALIGNED IN THE MODERN WORLD? It has a long history and legacy, starting

in the Second World War. We’re talking about the will to defend your own country: that is the key thing we are trying to keep, especially with the younger generation. We have to keep our conscription. Almost 80% of the male population of Finland goes for military training, and there is family behind those youngsters- everybody is involved some way or other to defend the country. We are only 5.5 million people, so we have rather large reserve, it's more than Germany has soldiers. Two hundred eighty thousand troops and those with military training makes 900 thousand; they do not belong to our defense forces or “mobilization” forces but they have training and, importantly, capabilities in modern military operations.

WHAT ABOUT THE TECHNICAL CAPACITY, MILITARY EQUIPMENT AND SO ON? We are in the middle of replacing our hornet fleet, F-18s, and we now have more than 60 planes, and long-range capability, and the same goes for the army and navy and we are not yet decided what we are replacing our hornet fleets with, this decision is going to be made in 2021 and we have a few candidates: the F-35, F-18, Rafale, Eurofighter and Jas Gripen. We’re running tests on those

planes in Finland in January-February in very harsh conditions in Lapland. From the naval side, we have just decided to purchase Corvettes for the Baltic Sea.

DOES ECONOMIC SECURITY AND STABILITY PLAY ANY ROLE IN HOW NONALIGNED YOU CAN BE? Of course, because the will of the country is based on you being willing to defend the country you are living in, the social structures, everything. In our country, we have rather high taxes but we are willing to pay them and that's why we have a free healthcare system, free education, university education and so on. The willingness creates stability. At the same time, the education level is rather high so we understand the problems when it comes to hybrid threats. In fact, Finland has the highest media literacy in the EU.

SO FINLAND IS EVER READY, EVER VIGILANT. Sure. We are ready and we are part of the EU. What the EU has done, the sanctions towards Russia; we are part of it.

ProCredit Bank Offers Increased Interest Rate on Deposits in EUR ADVERTORIAL

U

pdated conditions are now available to private clients and apply to term and saving deposits as well as to certificates of deposit. Depositors have the opportunity to save money in EUR and take advantage of a higher interest rate. • Saving deposits: FlexSave accounts allow you to deposit and withdraw your funds at any time. • Term deposits / certificates of deposit: Allow you to earn a higher interest rate for keeping your funds with the bank for a specified period of time. ProCredit Bank offers its customers a higher interest rate on 12-month deposits in EUR: Term deposit – nominal 1.5%, effective 1.51% Certificates of deposit – nominal / effective 1.7% For further information, please visit ProCredit Bank’s official www.procreditbank. ge or contact the Service Center at (+995 32) 220 2222.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 3 - 5, 2019

7

EBRD for Georgia’s Public Transport Development BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

O

n November 29, Georgian Finance Minister Ivane Matchavariani, Tbilisi City Mayor Kakha Kaladze and EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) Regional Director in the Caucasus Catarina Bjorlin Hansen signed a contract to ensure that Tbilisi will get approximately 200 new ecologically clean CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) buses. The abovementioned project is a continuation of the 2016 contract signed with the EBRD, which is to provide a sovereign loan of 80 million Euros, 65 of which will be used to purchase buses and the remaining 15 million to fund the construction of a bus depot. The project

The project will finance a new bus fleet of modern 12-meter low-floor CNG buses and the modernization of bus depots

carries environmental, protectoral and social significance. The investment will improve the reliability, safety and efficiency of public transport, and the modern CNG technology will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project will introduce low-floor buses, bringing significant social benefits by facilitating easy access for passengers with prams and shopping bags, especially women, and those with limited movement, including the elderly and the disabled. Moreover, the new buses will improve the safety of bus operations. “The project will finance a new bus fleet of modern 12-meter low-floor CNG buses and the rehabilitation/modernization of bus depots for the city,” reports the EBRD. It is noteworthy to say that in 2016, within the frames of the EBRD project, Tbilisi was supplied with 143 ecologically more sustainable buses that run on gas. Matchavariani and Hansen further signed the ‘Urban Transport Development Program for Georgia’ agreement. Within the frames of this project, the EBRD will provide 17 million Euros of sovereign loans to Georgian state that will be on-lent to the Municipal Development Fund of Georgia. The program is aiming for the development of public transportation in 6 big cities of Georgia. ‘Urban Transport Development Programme for Georgia’ will supply Kutaisi, Rustavi, Zugdidi, Telavi, Gori, and Poti with 175 new buses. “The project is part of the Bank’s broader engagement in Georgia’s public transport sector, with investments tailored to the needs of cities to support reforms and achieve sustainable operations with lowemission technology.

Image source: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia

Replacing the outdated bus fleet with modern low-floor, low-entry buses is expected to have a considerable environmental and social impact. With the new Euro 5 diesel buses, emissions should be reduced by 34%,” reports the EBRD. Simultaneously, the Ministry of Finance of Georgia reports that the EBRD is ready to start looking for funds to do related research on current necessities (bus routes, paying systems, etc.) in these municipalities.

The ‘Urban Transport Development Program for Georgia’ will stimulate the development of the region, the quality of serving the population, and the level of safety when using the public transportation. Georgia has been a member of the EBRD since 1992. Since then, the European Bank has launched 198 projects in Georgia, all of them successfully contributing to the country’s developing process. The Bank has invested

€3,466 million in Georgia’s projects, making it the leading institutional investor in the country. The EBRD has a clear direction of focus in Georgia, to wit: “In Georgia we focus on supporting private sector competitiveness through innovation, developing local currency and capital markets, expanding markets through inter-regional connectivity, and renewable energy, resource efficiency and climate change adaptation.”

TBC Capital Presents FMCG Sector Investment Analysis BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI

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BC Capital presents a second investment analysis about the FMCG sector for food and fast food products with the aim of discussing the current market situation and developing the potential of the sector together with companies and potential investors. According to the survey, by the end of 2019, the volume of the FMCG sector will exceed GEL 9.4 billion, of which organized players - branded trading net-

works, will occupy 28% of the market, which is 10% more than in 2016. Expenditure on food and fast-food products in the local population is projected to rise to GEL 8.1 billion by 2019, while direct spending on tourism and restaurants will reach GEL 1.3 billion over the same period. “Our research provides a good basis for identifying the sector's growth potential,” said Tornike Kordzaia, Head of TBC Capital Studies. “We predict that sales of organized players will increase to GEL 5.5 billion over the next five years, that means a 13% increase of organized market share and more than 600 new online

stores. Where growth was mostly coming from capital in previous years, we predict that at this stage the organized market will become more active in the regions, driven by increased tourism and high activity during the summer.” TBC Capital is a TBC Bank affiliate and licensed company providing investment banking services to its customers. In 2017, TBC Capital became a part of TBC Bank's corporate and investment banking business. The main business areas of the company are: financial consulting and credit, rating services, bond and stock issuance, investment research and brokerage activities.

Georgian Economy Grows by 5.7% in October Continued from page 1 “Of course it is not enough and we need more growth...We need to help businesses to operate better, and of course our most important goal is to create strong businesses that create jobs,” he said. Gakharia added that the government has fully realized its function to create a comfortable environment for businesses to be stronger and to create more jobs. “The economic growth of our country depends on the private sector. A key component of our country's economic growth is private business, and the government has fully realized its function

to create a comfortable environment for Georgian businesses to be stronger, create more jobs, generate more profit and be more widely represented in international markets,” he noted. Economic expert Akaki Tsomaia believes that a 5.7% growth in the economy is “nothing special or promising.” According to him, the average economic growth has been 5% in recent years, and there is nothing unexpected in the latest figure. “5% is the rate of economic growth that a developing country like us would have if there are no novelties and innovations in the economy. It means that nothing new is happening in the economy and

it is suffering from inertia,” he said. Tsomaia stressed that such economic growth is maintained at the expense of the state's infrastructure projects, and if not for this factor, the economic growth rate would have been much lower. “It seems that the number of infrastructure projects has increased, but it should be noted that borrowed funds are invested in these projects,” Tsomaia added. The future forecast sees the expert expecting economic growth to continue with inertia in 2020, however, given the tightened monetary policy, he says that Georgia's economic growth rate will be below 5% next year.

“It should also be taken into account that the inflation rate will be adjusted in the last two months of this year. I do not rule out the need to tighten the monetary policy too,” Tsomaia said. Another economic expert, Soso Archvadze has a totally different assessment of the economic growth. According to him, in October 2019, the country's economic growth rate remained quite promising- a 5.7% pace, exceeding the 0.6 point average of 5.1 points in the first ten months of the year. “Taking into account the external challenges and internal political situation, this indicator reaffirms the very high

degree of sustainability of our country's economy to negative factors, challenges and circumstances,” the expert said. To note, the Government of Georgia forecasted a 4.5% growth in the economy in 2019, while the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) left the forecast of Georgia’s economic growth for 2019 and 2020 unchanged at 4.5%. In addition to this, the World Bank forecasts 4.6% economic growth in Georgia in 2019 while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered the forecasts for Georgia’s economic growth from 4.8% to 4.3%.


8

BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 3 - 5, 2019

Georgia to Be Nominated as Candidate for ICC Judge in 2020

Entrepreneur Shop: A New Online Store of Georgian Production

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ntrepreneur Shop is a new platform of Entrepreneur, which shares the strategic mission of the magazine by continuing to support Georgian entrepreneurs through an additional channel – an online

shop. Unlike the functioning analogies, the Entrepreneur Shop will only offer production made by Georgian entrepreneurs. “By launching a new online shop we will further strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit in Georgia, giving more people an incentive to establish and develop a business of their own,” said George Sharashidze, the Editor-in-chief of the Entrepreneur. “Entrepreneur Shop will support Georgian entrepreneurs not merely by expanding their sales but also by popularizing their business and raising their brands to fame. To accomplish that goal, we will use every possible platform.” Entrepreneur Shop will unite different services and products in one space. It will include every-

thing that is Georgian, has the best quality and was made with Georgian entrepreneurial spirit. The online shop already offers around 200 products of up to 25 Georgian brands, a number that is ever-increasing. Entrepreneur encourages every Georgian brand that creates interesting and outstanding production to join the Entrepreneur Shop community. The online shop will open new doors to member entrepreneurs: raising their brands to fame and increasing their income.

BY BEKA ALEXISHVILI

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eputy Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, and the delegation of the Justice Ministry left for The Hague to participate in the 18th Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court (ICC). As the Ministry of Justice states, the main purpose of the visit is to make a statement on behalf of Georgia to the ICC member states that Georgia will be nominated as a candidate for the ICC judge position in 2020. “Specifically, in December 2020, within the framework of the 19th ICC Assembly of States Parties, which includes 123 States, 6 vacancies will be selected for the appointment of judges from dif-

ferent regions. Among them, one judge will be elected from Eastern Europe, as the term of the Czech judge is soon set to expire. Georgia will nominate a candidate for this position, whose national competition will be held in full compliance with the Rome Statute and the Assembly Resolution requirements. In addition to Georgia, the following countries can be nominated from Eastern Europe: Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia” writes the Ministry. During the visit, the Vice Premier of Georgia will also meet with officials of the International Criminal Court. The lobby of the Ministry of Justice also includes Deputy Minister of Justice, Gocha Lortkipanidze and Head of the Department of State Representation in International Courts of the Ministry of Justice, Beka Dzamashvili.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 3 - 5, 2019

9

The Charm of Total Charm When You Want Your Looks Just So as soon as they see the change in their looks (no matter if the nose or breasts), the change they have been longing for, they realize that it was worth the effort. The new look gives everyone the kind of self-confidence and a renewed sense of self-worth that every member of our company so strives to see.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER TYPES OF ACTIVITIES THAT THE COMPANY IS INVOLVED IN?

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otal Charm is a leading Georgian company known for its innovations and customer-oriented services. Since its establishment in 1996, the company has been growing fast, constantly improving and diversifying its products to meet market demand in Georgia and abroad. The Aptos threads, a trademark product of Total Charm, has already gained unrivaled popularity. The brand has become the hallmark of a successful business model, as the company plans to shift the production of the Aptos threads from Germany to Georgia. Total Charm is also known for its annual international conference that has been drawing hundreds of plastic surgeons from all over the world for learning, research, and development purposes. If you are serious about undertaking plastic surgery or non-invasive procedures to change your looks, Total Charm is a perfect fit for you to stop the clock! GEORGIA TODAY spoke with Konstantin Sulamanidze, the plastic and aesthetic surgeon at Total Charm along with his father and brother, doctors Marlen and Giorgi Sulmanidze. Konstantin was recognized as the best specialist in the nomination “Best treatment” 20152016, at the International Congress of Aesthetic Direction in Paris- AMEC 2015.

HOW AND WHEN DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS? The history of this company is also the history of my family. The roots go back to 1996 when my father, Marlen Sulamanidze, a plastic surgeon, invented the Aptos threads, better and more commonly known as the Golden threads. What is Aptos? Aptos is a non-invasive thread and method of face and body lifting, contouring and rejuvenation. The invention served as a great inspiration to my family, giving rise to our medical careers. Having spent a number of years in Moscow, where I graduated from a local university to become a plastic surgeon, my family returned to Georgia in 2008. Here, we established a large clinic – Total Charm, which has been growing and expanding its services ever since.

WHAT KINDS OF SERVICE DOES TOTAL CHARM OFFER? Total Charm provides a range of services, including surgeries (among them vascular surgery), dermato-cosmetological services (the clinic employs 7 dermatologists), and aesthetic gynecological services that are becoming increasingly popular. In short, we are a large group of professionals who love their work and who enjoy helping patients with their rejuvenation efforts. We have lots of patients and they are never disappointed. We are also capable of conducting

several procedures at a time. For instance, we have had cases when I’d be working on breast glands while my father was carrying out abdominoplastic surgery and my brother on facial lifting – all going on as our gynecologist was busy working with the same patient at the same time! Such a combination of concurrent services is very efficient and time-saving as it takes about 1.5 hours to complete all these procedures. Post-op rehabilitation and recovery times vary from patient to patient, but

Total Charm also runs a big learning center called Aptos Shop with a large conference hall. It attracts medical professionals from all over the world. Aptos Shop hosts over 100 doctors every month. Last week, we had 18 plastic surgeons and dermato-cosmetologists from Australia learning the Aptos methodology. This is the only place where one can learn this methodology because we, as the inventors, own the patent rights to Aptos. Another advantage is that they can observe the actual application of the methodology in the operating theater as surgeries are being carried out. We also organize Georgia’s largest international conference on plastic surgery—Kolkhida. This year we held our 14th event with 650 participants from all over the world. This was a three-day event packed with multiple presentations and live broadcasts of surgical operations.

DO YOU PRODUCE THE APTOS THREADS IN GEORGIA? Since 1996, we have been using the services of a German producer in Berlin, but we are now building a factory in Georgia to produce the Aptos threads locally. We plan to set the new enterprise

in motion in 2020, and it will not only meet demand on the local market but will allow products to be exported as an important Georgian brand to foreign markets. We have hired German engineers to help us ensure that the factory complies with extremely tight and high technological and quality standards required for the production of the Aptos threads.

ANY LAST-MINUTE THOUGHTS OR ADVICE FOR PATIENTS THINKING ABOUT PLASTIC SURGERY? Well, I would conclude by saying that before you make up your mind to undertake plastic surgery, make sure you are well-motivated and well-consulted. Make sure you consult a plastic surgeon before making a decision. And once you pick your doctor, trust your doctor to the very end! Make sure you retain a positive attitude because it will help you with a speedy recovery. Anyone can look awesome, anyone regardless of age, because age doesn’t matter. What matters is that we never stop believing in ourselves and never stop loving ourselves and our loved ones.


10

BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 3 - 5, 2019

ARDI Develops Partnership with Acibadem Healthcare Group, a World-Renowned Hospital Network

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eorgia’s leading insurance company ARDI and the world-famous hospital network Acibadem Healthcare Group signed a memorandum affirming that the latter has become the network provider for ARDI, allowing Insureds at ARDI to receive treatment in Turkish clinics chain. This collaboration is an unprecedented event in the Georgian insurance market, giving all those insured by ARDI a unique opportunity to, by using insurance cards purchased in Georgia, take advantage of the services offered by the leading healthcare center. Acibadem Healthcare Group, which has developed rapidly since 1991 to become one of the leading institutions in Turkey within the field of private healthcare services, operates in four countries with 21 multipurpose hospitals and 16 outpatient clinics. ARDI Global, an international service center specifically designed for this purpose, is designed to provide ARDI customers all the services they need to be treated in Acibadem clinics. It is enough for the insured to contact the international service center global@ardi.ge and they will receive: complete management of medical services; remote review of individual patient cases online; preparation of all the necessary documents from various medical clinics and laboratories in Georgia; full planning of services to be received in Turkey, if necessary; and

On the Protests & 2020 Elections Continued from page 2 As noted before the meeting, protests will continue countrywide. In addition, they do not exclude a second round of negotiations with the authorities. Euronews issued an article on the enduring protests in Tbilisi, relating to the demand for electoral reform. The title of the article is: “Tbilisi protests: Why do tens of thousands of Georgians want early elections?”, and it provides an overview of the demonstrations and what they entail. “For two weeks, protesters in Georgia have blockaded the country’s parliament building in demonstrations over electoral reform that have brought tens of thousands to the streets. Activists want to see a reform of the election system scheduled to come into force in 2024 brought forward by four years, allowing the country to shift from a so-called single-mandate constituency to one based on proportional representation. They say that the current system favors the ruling Georgian Dream party, which is headed by a former prime minister and Georgia’s richest man, Bidzina Ivanishvili.” states the article. Currently, Georgia uses a mixed electoral system, in which politicians are elected through proportional representation but not enough constituency seats, and in the end, it automatically favors the ruling party. To successfully implement the proportional representation system, the entire country must be treated as a single constituency and the voters must vote nationally on party lists. “The protests have spread to other cities, including Mtskheta, Zugdidi, Poti, Telavi, and Ozurgeti, where protesters have locked the gates of municipalities and government buildings. The actions have been condemned by the country’s prime minister. Since then, dozens have been arrested and police have used water cannon to disperse protesters outside the parliament building in Tbilisi. On Tuesday, huge steel gates were erected around the parliament building to keep demonstrators away. It isn’t the first time in 2019 that Georgia has been rocked by street protests. Back in June, thousands took to the streets after a lawmaker in the country addressed the parliament in Russian, provoking anger in a country with tense relations with Moscow,” reads the article.

the world's leading, top-quality medical services and cutting-edge approaches. “We believe in Georgian doctors and we believe in the Georgian health system. We have very good Georgian doctors at Acibadem. Acibadem is still looking for more opportunities to collaborate with Georgia. This agreement between ARDI and Acibadem is very important for us and for all ARDI insureds, to have an easy access of highest quality healthcare services promptly and with support by their INSURER” - said Murat Pekmezoglu, MD, CIS Region Investments and Business Development Director of Acibadem Healthcare Group. Following the ceremony affirming the new partnership, GEORGIA TODAY spoke with Japaridze Mikheil, Executive Director of ARDI. finally, co-funding in accordance with the terms of their individual insurance plans and based on prices of leading medical clinics/hospitals in Georgia for the same services. ARDI’s customers will now have full access to ARDI's co-sponsored medical services as well as a privileged 15% discount on Acibadem's services, such as surgical treatment, hospital therapy, oncology, neurosurgery, cardiology, gynecology, urology, orthopedics, disease prophylaxis, and robotic operations (cyber knife, Da Vinci). The 15% discount will likewise apply to services that are not commonly covered by a standard insurance card, such as plastic surgery,

weight correction and bariatric surgery, transplantations of organs and tissues. As part of this collaboration, ARDI's clients will benefit from a full package of additional services: second medical opinion (SMO) completely free of charge; meeting at the airport; free transfer from airport / hotel to clinic and vice versa; personal Georgian-language manager services at the clinic; 30% discount on travel insurance policy of any term. This initiative, using a Georgian insurance card in international medical providers, launched by ARDI in 2015, continues to develop and envisages offering many exclusive innovations to its clients in future, including constant access to

HOW LONG HAVE THE NEGOTIATIONS BEEN GOING ON? The negotiations have been going on for months. We’ve had to discuss a range of issues and details to ensure that our services and products are customized to the needs of the local market and clients, taking into account the specificities of Georgia’s health system and insurance sector. One important decision made was that all our clients, current and future, will receive an additional service, i.e. coverage of medical services received in Turkey’s renowned and advanced medical facilities. As a rule, Georgian

insurance companies provide coverage only within Georgia and we want to change this practice by giving our customers greater choice should they decide to seek treatment abroad. And if they do so, they will be able to obtain world-class services in Turkey’s leading clinics.

DOES IT MEAN THAT THE COST OF YOUR CUSTOMERS’ PREMIUM WILL INCREASE? The service will be automatically added to the package for those already insured by us and included in the package (at no additional cost) for those who will become our customers in the future. For ARDI’s customers, the difference usually lies in the levels of limits assigned to different insurance policies. Legally, there is very little difference, if at all, between the various types of policy. ARDI has been active on the Georgian market for almost ten years, and we have remained true to this principle throughout this time. Our customers are free to choose where they would like to get the needed service. Also, all the preceding, preparatory procedures (for which customers usually need to incur additional expenses) to organize and agree the details of medical services out of country are free for our customers. By sending one simple initial request at following email address, global@ardi.ge organization of full service pack would be started by our highly qualified international medical service team.

Hollywood Studios Threaten Georgia with Sanctions for Internet Piracy

BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

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nline copyright piracy is the practice of illegally reproducing and sharing information on the internet, such as movies or software. Internet Piracy is one of the most alarming growing problems in the modern technological world. Worldwide, users made a total of 300 billion visits to internet piracy sites in 2017, and the number doesn’t seem to be dramatically dropping anytime soon. While the economic losses because of online piracy speak billions in numbers, its no less concerning that 70% of online users report they find nothing wrong with it. How does Georgia fit into all this? For most of Georgians movie piracy is a part of their every-day routine. First, the laws protecting copyright rights did

not used to be very strict, laying ground for movie piracy online platforms to become very popular. Now, although the law is getting stricter against online piracy, thanks to the work done by National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia (NIPCG), movie piracy sites are so normalized in the Georgian conception that the majority of people genuinely don’t see why people would pay for Netflix and similar platforms to watch movies when they can do it for free on Georgian websites like Adjaranet and iMovies. That might change now that the President and Managing Director of the Motion Picture Association in the EMEA region (MPA EMEA) Stan McCoy has written to the Chairman of NIPCG Genadi Lobjanidze. The MPA represents global creators and distributors of audio-visual entertainment, the members of which are: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Netflix Studios, LLC: Paramount Pictures

Corporation: Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc; Universal City Studios LLC; and Warner Bros. Entertainment. The letter addressed to NIPCG Chairman Lobjanidze claims that movie piracy remains a significant problem for the members of the association and some Georgian platforms are contributing to the expansion of the problem. “As the industry grows and expands across multiple markets and mediums, the MPA's global mission to support the business of storytelling and protect those who work in the industry is becoming ever more crucial. Reducing piracy continues to be a key priority for us and enforcement is a necessary and important step to achieve this priority. In Georgia, services such as adjaranet.com and imovies.ge, which make available movies from MPA member companies without their consent, present a significant problem,” reads the letter of Mr. McCoy.

“The MPA salutes the progression that has been made regarding the reduce of movie piracy and looks forward to legal establishments that will make high quality content available for Georgian viewers,” he goes on. “The MPA also looks forward to seeing how local rights-holders and international partners can work together to promote the availability of legal, high quality content for Georgian viewers. We recognize the work done by the National Intellectual Property Center of Georgla as an important driver to achieve that objective,” his letter concludes. The letter is merely a warning. However, if the State fails to address the problem correspondingly, the Association will put sanctions on Georgia in the form of delays or cancellation of movie and TV premieres. This, of course, will not affect Georgia’s economy positively, not to say anything about the country’s image.


SOCIETY

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 3 - 5, 2019

11

Tbilisi’s Car Problem OP-ED BY ESPEN GAMLUND PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF BERGEN, NORWAY

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am a visitor to your country. I come from Bergen, Norway, but this year I’m living in Tbilisi with my family. Georgia is interestingly different from Norway, and I very much appreciate living here. Among other things, your hospitality, culture, food and wine are amazing. But Georgia has one big problem. The cars. I have observed this problem in several parts of the country, for example in Batumi and Kashuri, where I have stayed for shorter periods of time. But I think the problem is particularly acute for Tbilisi. The cars occupy the city. Since I visited Tbilisi for the first time in 2015, the situation has worsened.

FOUR PROBLEMS As I see it, the cars of Tbilisi represent four interrelated problems. First, they take up a lot of space in the city. The cars are parked everywhere, not only on the streets but also on the sidewalks where people walk, outside of shops, on play areas, etc. The boundary between street and sidewalk is almost non-existant in many places. This is striking to someone who is used to car parking in designated parking areas. In Norway, you would get fined for parking on the sidewalk. We live in the Didube district where there is a lot of car traffic. I dare say that in terms of getting around the city, there is one Tbilisi for people without children, and one for people with children (or for handicapped people). We have two small children, so we often use a stroller. This is a living nightmare. Because many cars are parked on the sidewalks, it is sometimes very difficult to move around in the city. We are often forced onto the streets with our children because the cars are parked in our way. This is very uncomfortable and also dangerous. I am aware that cars are valuable to many citizens of Tbilisi. They are an important means of transport, and indispensable to many in their businesses. But these benefits need to be weighed against the costs. Despite its benefits, car traffic contributes to reduced life quality for many citizens of Tbilisi. It makes it difficult to move around in the

city, and the bad air quality prevents many people from going outside, especially people with asthma. This brings me to the second problem of cars – they pollute the air. With economic development comes both benefits and burdens. Among the burdens is air pollution. Studies show that the air in Tbilisi is becoming more and more polluted. In fact, Tbilisi is on the list of cities in the world where air pollution is a critical problem. The health effects of air pollution are undisputed and serious. One third of all deaths from lung cancer, stroke and heart disease are caused by air pollution. If you add to that the effects of smoking tobacco – which is also a serious health issue in Georgia – the picture looks bleak. The percentage of deaths attributed to air pollution is very high in Georgia compared to other countries. Third, car traffic not only pollutes the air locally, but also contributes to the global problem of climate change. We know that the main trigger of climate change is the burning of fossil fuel. Since this is a global problem, solving it will require the joint efforts of countries worldwide. Unfortunately, time is running out, and unless we act fast, there is a danger that we will not be able to prevent catastrophic climate change. This raises a question about what role Georgia will play in the fight against global warming. There are some signs that Georgia is taking steps to reduce air pollution and to mitigate climate change. As in many other cities around the world, Tbilisi has seen a greening of cars. The recent taxi reform is an example of a step in the right direction. There are now many hybrid cars in Tbilisi, and environmentally friendly buses are replacing the old yellow buses. These are all positive developments. However, they are overshadowed by the fact that a large percentage of Tbilisi’s citizens use private cars as their preferred means of transport. The number of private cars has increased considerably over the past decade. In fact, it is reported to have almost doubled in the last five-year period. Even though many countries in recent years have replaced fossil fuel cars with hybrid and electric vehicles, the effects have been miniscule. According to a recent report from World Energy Outlook, SUVs were the second largest con-

tributor to the increase in global carbon emissions from 2010 to 2018. The shift towards SUVs, which is also seen in Georgia, has outweighed both efficiency improvements in smaller cars and carbon savings from electric cars. Car manufacturers plan several electric models in the coming years, but this will not have its intended benefits unless there is a decrease in fossil fuel vehicles, especially SUVs. These three problems contribute to a fourth. Georgia has seen a rise in tourism over the past years, and people from all around the world now come to appreciate everything your country has to offer. However, there is reason to worry that cars and car traffic will have a negative effect on tourism. With cars parked everywhere, increasing traffic jams, and polluted air, people may not want to visit Georgia. This is bad news indeed.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE? I realize that I may come across as someone who is coming to your country only to complain about the sad state of affairs for cars here. Perhaps some even think that I am moralizing about how you have handled this problem. But I am writing this because I care about Georgia, and in particular about Tbilisi. My wife is Georgian, and we have family here. Moreover, I don’t think I’m only speaking for myself. I see the daily disadvantages of car traffic for Georgians. Many of them find it very hard to move in the city because of the traffic. The increasing number of traffic jams also means that it takes time to travel around in Tbilisi. The opportunity costs of people not being able to move around in the city are probably considerable. I am not judging you for failing to tackle this problem adequately. In my hometown, Bergen, cars also cause many problems, among them air pollution. Our politicians are, in my opinion, not doing enough to combat the situation. As citizens we can try to influence politics by voicing our opinion. Here, I am trying to bring attention to what I see as a major problem for Tbilisi. The city desperately needs a new car policy. Tbilisi is of course not the only city in the world with a car problem. Privatization of cars has taken place in many parts of the world in the past decades, and many countries face the same challenges as Georgia. Moreover, the conflict between pedestrians and

cars is not unique to Tbilisi. It is a problem we find in many cities around the world, and one which is caused by modern urbanization. It is a challenge to urban planners and others trying to find modes of living where cars and people can co-exist. I think we need to imagine a new Tbilisi where the cars are not dominating the city. What concretely can be done? Some cities have tried to introduce a ban on cars with odd or even numbers at the end of their registration on days with poor air quality. In my hometown Bergen, this had some effect, but only temporarily. I’m not sure this would work in Tbilisi. Given that there is a need to reduce the number of cars here, one should consider various incentives that would make it more difficult for people to buy and own a car. As a matter of fact, too many cars are imported to Georgia each year. Higher taxes would presumably have some effect on the number of imported cars. Furthermore, a new system of car parking must be put in place

so that cars don’t occupy pedestrian zones. This will require considerable infrastructure improvements. Also, such a car parking system will need to be regulated, where people who fail to comply are fined. In order to combat traffic jams, it’s necessary to improve public transport. The introduction of new buses is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done. Moreover, Tbilisi desperately needs pedestrian zones, green zones, and ideally also bike lanes. There are understandably very few bikers in Tbilisi, but bicycles are an environmentally friendly mode of transport. Norway leads the way when it comes to electric vehicles, but many Norwegians also use electric bicycles. This generates both environmental and health benefits. The future modernization of Georgia and Tbilisi requires a serious effort to deal with the car problem. Imagine people driving electric cars and bicycles in Tbilisi? It could happen. Let’s hope it does!

The Cartu Bank Case BY ANA DUMBADZE

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he Tbilisi City Court on Thursday sentenced former Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili to 5 years and 3 months of imprisonment in Cartu Bank's bankruptcy case. Zurab Adeishvili and Nika Melia, a member of the United National Movement (UNM), were charged in the mentioned case in 2013. The two are accused of abuse of power and hiding property through fraudulent transactions in the case of Cartu Bank. The opposition leader Nika Melia was acquitted in one episode of Cartu Bank's bankruptcy case, while he was found guilty in another episode: abuse of power. He was fined GEL 25,000 and was also

Nika Melia. Source: OC Media

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deprived of the right to hold a public office for 2 years and 3 months. Nika Melia said that the case is politically motivated and serves only one goal, to get him out of Parliament. Speaking to reporters, he described the case as 'absurd,' noting that 25 people had been charged in the case of Cartu so far, however, after seven years, "the legal proceedings against them were stopped and only he was prosecuted." He also added that Bidzina Ivanishvili sees that the vertical of his power has collapsed, and the cases against him [Melia] are only aimed at getting him out of Parliament. As for the second case in which the opposition MP is accused of leading and engaging in group violence during the June 20 rally, he says, "Ivanishvili must realize that no criminal case can stop any opponent and activist."

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1208 Business  

December 3 - 5, 2019

Issue #1208 Business  

December 3 - 5, 2019

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