Issue no: 902/56
• DECEMBER 6 - 8, 2016
• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY
FOCUS ON THE LARI
New gov't schemes blamed for latest GEL devaluation
PRICE: GEL 2.50
In this week’s issue... World Bank VicePresident Visits Techno Park Tbilisi NEWS PAGE 2
When Good Intentions Lead to Bad Outcomes: Tree-Cutting Regulations in Tbilisi ISET PAGE 4
Georgia’s 50 GEL Banknote Nominated at Oscars of Paper Currency PAGE 6
EU-Georgia Association Council Discusses DCFTA Benefits
The 3rd Association Council meeting between the EU and Georgia
BY THEA MORRISON
he 3rd Association Council meeting between the European Union and Georgia, held on Friday in Brussels, discussed all directions of European Union (EU)-Georgia cooperation and welcomed the initial benefits of economic integration through the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) implementation. The ensuring of long-term sustainable development and inclusive economic growth were highlighted as core goals of the Georgian Government's domestic reform program, in line with the commitments of the Association Agreement. Continued on page 5
2016 Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards Winners Announced PAGE 8
Armenian Airlines & Georgian Airways to Launch Joint Flights to Europe PAGE 10
It’s Good to Be Bad SOCIETY PAGE 12 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by
STOCKS BankofGeorgia(BGEOLN) GHG(GHGLN) TBCBankGroup(TBCGLN)
COMMODITIES CrudeOil,Brent(US$/bbl) GoldSpot(US$/OZ)
DECEMBER 6 - 8, 2016
World Bank Vice-President Global Visits Techno Park Tbilisi
Enabling Trade Report: Georgia’s Ranking Increased
World Bank Vice-President for Europe and Central Asia Cyril Muller. Source: boaoforum.org
BY THEA MORRISON
orld Bank Vice-President for Europe and Central Asia, Cyril Muller, visited Tbilisi’s Technological Park of Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA) on Monday. The meeting was attended by Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Ketevan Botchorishvili; Acting Chairman of GITA, Avtandil Kasradze; and World Bank representatives and teams of the Startup Georgia and Innovations Agency program - Business Incubator. During the visit, Cyril Mueller learned about the main programs, projects, services and work processes of GITA and the Technology Park.
Beginner businessmen were able to introduce their ideas to the World Bank Vice-President and share the challenges facing them in the business field. Muller’s visit comes as the World Bank's support to the Government of Georgia moves to a new phase. In 2015, on the decision of the World Bank Executive Board, funds were allocated for Georgia’s national innovation ecosystem project (GENIE), which is being implemented by GITA. The project supports the government's strategy to focus on the future by building a competitive and innovative economy. The main goal of GENIE is the promotion of innovative firms and individuals, and supporting their participation in the digital economy, which can be achieved through investments in community-based centers.
Global Enabling Trade Report Picture. Source: World Economic Forum
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
he World Economic Forum’s Global Enabling Trade Report shows Georgia has moved up, now holding 41st position in the ranking, a five point increase compared to 2014. The report evaluates 136 countries and is produced once every two years. Published under the World Economic Forum and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, the Global Enabling Trade Report makes an evaluation of countries based on economic institutions, policy and infrastructure and on services that facilitate the cross-border flow of goods to their final destinations. The report also evaluates the level of the country’s integration into the international trade arena and its potential. The ratings are based on seven components, each evaluated by different indicators: domestic market access, foreign market access, efficiency and transparency of border administration, availability and quality of transport infrastructure, availability and quality of transport services, availability and use of ICTs, and operating environment.
TBILISI ISTANBUL ATATURK AIRPORT ISTANBUL ATATURK AIRPORT TBILISI TBILISI ISTANBUL SABIHA GOKCEN AIRPORT ISTANBUL SABIHA GOKCEN AIRPORT TBILISI BATUMI - ISTANBUL ISTANBUL - BATUMI
In 2016 Georgia improved its rating in the foreign market access component with a score of 33 compared to 63 in 2014, seen as a result of signing the EU Association Agreement and DCFTA component especially, as well as the successful concluding of bilateral negotiations with China. Georgia’s efficiency and transparency of border administration has also increased- by two points compared to 2014, from 41st place in 2014 to 39th place in 2016. The availability and quality of transport component went up by 3 points from 101 in 2014 to 98th place in 2016, while availability and use of ICTs by 5 points, from 70 in 2014 to 65th in 2016. Operating environment also saw a climb by 17 points- at 33rd place in 2016 compared to 50th place in 2014. The local market access indicator showed 9th place compared to 6th in 2014. However, the state institution efficiency indicator has also increased, moving from 25th to 20th position, as well as the indicator of access to financial resources and services. The report also indicates that the top economies leading the trade across the borders are: Singapore being the top-most ranked, followed by The Netherlands, Hong Kong SAR, Luxemburg, Swden, Finland, Austria, United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium.
TK 387 TK 385 TK 383 TK 386 TK 384 TK 382
05.50 11.45 18.10 01.40 07.30 13.55
07.25 13.25 20.00 04.55 10.50 17.15
TK 381 EVERYDAY TK 380 TK 393 TK 392
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 6 - 8, 2016
Experts Believe Government’s New Economic Plan Creates Lari Fluctuation BY THEA MORRISON
Today 1 USD SD officially equals 2.60 GEL Source: accent.com.ge
conomic experts in Georgia believe that the government’s new economic plan, which envisages an increased tax on some products and the Larization of loans, has created negative expectations on the market and resulted in a fluctuation of the national currency Lari (GEL). At the beginning of the month, the GEL reached its worst historic rate of depreciation against the United States Dollar, with one USD amounting to 2.71 GEL in some banks, up from 2.53 the previous day. The National Bank of Georgia (NBG) then issued a statement blaming the value of the US Dollar on the world exchange market for being the main cause of the GEL weakening. The Bank also claimed that the main factors for the latest negative pressure on the exchange rate were false expectations about the GEL’s further devaluation, because citizens are converting their GEL into USD, and because those same citizens are saving their money in USD. Soon after the statement from the NBG, the GEL rate stabilized at 1 USD to 2.56 GEL. Most analysts believe the recent economic developments are directly linked with the government’s Larization plan and increased taxes from 2017 on tobacco, imported cars and oil products. The increase on oil products means a 0.23 GEL increase on fuel, 0.25 GEL increase on diesel and 0.12 GEL
increase on gas. “When the importers learned that from January 1 they would have to pay more excise tax, they decided to buy extra products before that period, which increased dollar transactions from the country and resulted in the devaluation of the GEL,” economic expert Beso Namchavadze stated. Economic analyst Mikheil Dondua believes that the situation was created by “deliberate speculations from some major Georgian banks,” and calls on law enforcers to investigate the case. “This was anti-state action and all guilty
people should be punished punished,”” he said said. However, financial expert Nodar Ebanoidze says the recent developments were a result of panic and that the negative trade index and lack of investment are also main factors. Head of the organization ‘Society and Banks,’ Giorgi Kepuladze called on the government and the NBG to do their best to avoid further devaluation of the GEL. Kepuladze disapproved of the government’s decision to introduce property tax for car owners and believes this step will have a negative impact on auto
importers and will increase car prices. prices “Sharp changes bring negative results to the economy, and to business in general. The government wants to increase taxes in order to fill the deficit of next year’s budget,” said Kepuladze. The main opposition party United National Movement (UNM) says the fluctuation of the national currency was caused by the improper economic policies of the government. “When the government announces increased taxes on diesel and gas, this negatively affects our business environment, economic development and GEL
rate ”saidZura rate,” said Zurab Chiaberashvili, member of the UNM. Georgia’s Finance Minister, Dimitry Kumsishvili, also commented, saying that “some wrong decisions” made by private sector players resulted in the devaluation of the GEL. He said that the situation on the monetary market had been regulated thanks to the right coordination of the Finance Ministry and the NBG. The GEL devaluation against the USD began in November, 2014. At that time, one US dollar was equivalent to 1.75 GEL. Today, 1 USD officially equals 2.60 GEL.
DECEMBER 6 - 8, 2016
THE ISET ECONOMIST A BLOG ABOUT ECONOMICS AND THE SOUTH CAUCAUS
The ISET Policy Institute (ISET-PI, www.iset-pi.ge) is an independent think-tank associated with the International School of Economics at TSU (ISET). Our blog carries economic analysis of current events and policies in Georgia and the South Caucasus region ranging from agriculture, to economic growth, energy, labor markets and the nexus of economics, culture and religion. Thought-provoking and fun to read, our blog posts are written by international faculty teaching at ISET and recent graduates representing the new generation of Georgian, Azerbaijani and Armenian economists.
When Good Intentions Lead to Bad Outcomes: Tree-Cutting Regulations in Tbilisi BY MAKA CHITANAVA AND NORBERTO PIGNATTI
s economic development progresses, air pollution and the lack of green spaces have become increasingly painful issues for Tbilisi citizens. In our previous blog, Breathing in Tbilisi, we discussed the negative outcomes, in terms of air pollution and tree-cutting, generated by the actions of self-interested developers facing an inert civil society and a local government that is unwilling and/or unable to protect green public spaces. While that is a classic example of market failure, today, we will focus on a different type of failure, also contributing to worsening air quality and the shrinking of green areas in Tbilisi: regulatory failure. We have a regulatory failure when, instead of helping, public regulation makes things worse. To better illustrate the concept, we will share with you a very interesting story which adds an additional (and quite significant!) perspective to the picture. We focus on the story of a company owner because Tbilisi City Hall takes care of dead trees on private land, but not on land owned by legal entities. Imagine that your firm owns a plot of land with trees on it in Tbilisi. Assume one of your trees has dried out and is about to fall. Can you guess how much time, energy and money it would take to have it cut and disposed of? The box presents all the details of the process that a company owner, who had to cut a cypress on his firm’s land, had to go through. He had to pay GEL 1770, and spend a notable amount of time and effort to get rid of one dead tree. It is not clear how Tbilisi City Hall uses the fees collected in this way, therefore we cannot exclude the possibility that the municipality uses them to finance, at least in part, “green programs.” What is clear, however, is that to our main character the recoverable amount - GEL 1300 - was just a fee for a permit, on top of other non-negligible expenses (in addition to time and energy lost in the process). Tbilisi City Hall did not provide any additional service in exchange
The road to hell is paved with good intentions - Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
for the fee (not even removing the tree when asked, as they would normally do for private individuals). Initially, our entrepreneur intended to plant a new tree, but after going through this ordeal his good intentions vanished. What if this new tree dried? No, better to avoid the risk of going through all of this again! So, Tbilisi City Hall is currently collecting a (high) fee for a permit, without providing any service in exchange (no botanist, no workers to cut and/or remove the tree, no new plant). The costs that legal entities face to cut (and dispose of) a dead tree are substantial. The local government does not provide any incentive to firms to plant new trees in place of the ones removed. What are the predictable outcomes of this state of things? At the very least, these two: First, legal entities will postpone (sometime indefinitely) cutting dead and sick trees to avoid the very high costs of cut and disposal. This can have deleterious consequences. Examples abound. For instance, one of the big developers in Tbilisi, which owns a large green space with a lot of sick pinus brutia (eldaris pichvi), is not cutting them (the recoverable amount rate for pinus brutia is GEL 100 per annual ring approximately GEL 4000 per tree), which is causing the disease to spread to nearby trees. Second, legal entities will not replace the dead trees with new ones after they cut them. Both outcomes are hardly satisfactory
if the goal is, at least, to maintain existing green areas.
COULD THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT DO BETTER? AND HOW? High recoverable amounts have a rationale. They work as disincentives (together with administrative fees and criminal charges) to cut or damage existing trees purposefully (perhaps to get rid of them in order to use the land for an alternative purpose). In reality, even the current level of cutting fees is not high enough to stop businesses that are really determined to cut trees (and expect to profit
from this). Evidence shows that these firms are cutting trees anyway (recall the Kazbegi Street example from the Breathing in Tbilisi blog). Whenever the municipality is not prepared to accept the elimination of a green area “at any cost,” it should simply prohibit this and oblige legal entities owning the land to plant a new tree of the same species to replace the dead one, eliminating the possibility of getting rid of the tree through the payment of a recoverable amount. In all other cases, the recoverable amount, calculated properly, should probably be kept. However, asking the
Step 1. Get information from Tbilisi City Hall’s hot line. You learn that to request a permit for cutting a tree, a preliminary assessment by a botanist is required. Step 2. You must find the botanist yourself, ensure his/her transportation to the location and pay a fee (70 GEL in this case) for the certification. Step 3. Go back to Tbilisi City Hall with the certification and request permission to cut the tree. Step 4. Wait for a Tbilisi City Hall representatives to visit your land plot and perform a visual inspection of the tree. The fee you will be asked to pay in order to get your permit (called recoverable amount) will be calculated based on the tree’s species and age. Step 5. Pay the fee (in this case, 1300 GEL) to the Tbilisi City Hall account and obtain the permit. Step 6. Find workers to cut the tree and have the tree cut (in this case, the cost was GEL 400) Step 7. Get rid of the waste. You must find someone to take it away. In our case, after some time spent searching, the firm owner donated the wood to a family who needed it and took care of the removal.
same recoverable amount of all legal entities wanting to remove a dead tree, regardless of whether they intend to replace it or not, is not the best solution. A system like the current one discourages businesses that would like to plant new trees from doing so. A smarter solution could be to keep high (or even increase, if necessary) fees for damaging and cutting trees, while rewarding “good behaviors” such as planting new trees. For example, in our case, the “environmentally friendly” company owner could have been offered a substantial discount on the fee, and/or the municipality could have taken upon itself the burden (and the costs) of the entire procedure if the company owner had agreed to have a new tree planted to replace the dead one. Unfortunately, but understandably, our blog character decided to plant flowers instead of a new cypress on his land. He hopes that one day this inflexible regulation will change, and he will be free to plant a new tree without additional worries, and to fulfill an old Georgian proverb: “a man has to have a child (he has already three), build a house and plant a tree.” Maka Chitanava is a Senior Researcher at the Energy and Environmental Policy Research Center, ISET Policy Institute. Norberto Pignatti is a Professor at ISET and Head of the Energy and Environmental Policy Research Center, ISET Policy Institute.
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 6 - 8, 2016
Google Festival Dev Tbilisi 2016 & Georgian in Unicode BY NATIA LIPARTELIANI
n November 27 the Google festival Devfest was held in Tbilisi. One of the biggest annual Google events, Devfest is held in more than 100 countries and hosts more than 30,000 people. The festival in Tbilisi was organized by Google Developers Group (GDG) Tbilisi, Google Business Group (GBG) Tbilisi and GeoLab and hosted by Tech Park, a High Technology and Innovation Center that consists of small incubators, educational hubs and laboratories, large offices for companies, and rooms for co-work and recreation. "Google Devfest 2016, unlike in previous years, saw a focus more on content, and we invited speakers from different fields to capture the interest of a higher number of people, those who are interested in technology or work in that field," Giorgi Vakhtangishvili, one of the festival organizers, told GEORGIA TODAY. "Each year Devfest takes on a key theme. Last year this was supporting innovations, and we invited hacker Aton to speak. This year our key theme was adding the Georgian alphabet to Unicode." "We’ve been working on geeting the Georgian alphabet added to Unicodefor over a year already, and Microsoft, Google and IBM are involved. We're already at the final stage," Vakhtangishvili added.
EU-Georgia Association Council Discusses DCFTA Benefits Continued from page 1 The EU underlined the importance of sound macroeconomic policies in this respect and welcomed the renewed momentum for Georgia to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Moreover, the Council welcomed the positive trends in trade between the EU and Georgia since the provisional application of the DCFTA. The sides highlighted the importance of creating more “success stories” in terms of new market openings for Georgian products, as well as the need to better communicate the advantages of the DCFTA to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). Both sides welcomed the decision of the Joint Committee of the Pan-EuroMediterranean Convention on Rules of Origin to admit Georgia as a contracting party to the Convention that will further facilitate the export of Georgian products to the EU market. The Association Council underlined Georgia's strategic role in the field of energy and transport connectivity and welcomed the signature of the Protocol on the accession of Georgia to the Energy Community on 14 October, as envisaged by the implementation of the Association Agreement. The Council welcomed the solid EU assistance provided to Georgia, which had particularly increased in the period 2014-2017 with an annual average of EUR
100 million available to support the ambitious political, judicial and economic reforms envisaged in the Association Agreement and Association Agenda. The Association Council underlined the importance of the promotion of EU investments in the Georgian economy and welcomed a proposal to focus future assistance for 2017-2020 on Economic Growth, Private Sector Support and developing efficient value chains and increased competitiveness in selected sectors with high export potential and import substitution. The meeting’s participants stressed the importance of the successful cooperation established between the EU and Georgia on Strategic Communication. The EU side expressed its readiness to assist Georgia's increased participation in EU programs in order to bring tangible results to the population. The Association Council commended Georgia's growing cooperation with the EU agencies and welcomed further steps in this direction, encouraging the strengthening of sectoral cooperation through enhanced dialogue between the relevant EU and Georgian institutions and use of all available EU instruments. Furthermore, the Council reiterated its firm support for the territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders, as well as its firm commitment to peace, stability and conflict resolution in Georgia. It also con-
demned the ratification of a military deal between Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia and Russia. Georgia's successful implementation of all required benchmarks under the Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP) was also underlined. The Association Council stressed the importance of a prompt finalization of the decisionmaking process required to exempt Georgian citizens holding biometric passports from visa requirements within the Schengen area. The EU also expressed appreciation for Georgia's continued contribution to EU-led crisis management operations and missions in the Central African Republic and the Republic of Mali, as well as its readiness to support the strengthening of respective capacities of the country. The Council is the highest formal body established under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement to supervise the implementation of the Agreement and to discuss issues of mutual interest. The meeting took place after the entry into force of the Association Agreement on July 1 that marked the start of its fullscale implementation. The Council was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. The Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, led the Georgian delegation consisting of members of the Government of Georgia.
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Georgia’s 50 GEL Banknote Nominated at Oscars of Paper Currency
DECEMBER 6 - 8, 2016
Georgian Honey to Enter European Market BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
he EU Trade Committee has declared that Georgian honey producers will now be able to export their products to the EU market, a decision called unprecendented after the DCFTA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area
Preferential Regime) was taken into force. “It’s a great sign of success that the Government of Georgia undertook all the activities needed for the export of this product to the European market,” said Genadi Arveladze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, commenting on the trade committee decision according to which Georgian honey will now officially be allowed into the EU.
Following EU directives, legislative changes were made in order to better align honey production to the stringent EU standards. A plan to monitor veterinary drugs, pollutants and waste materials was implemented, with a technical reglament for honey production intoduced from July 1, 2015, setting special requirments for the production process to which all producers are required to fully comply.
Among the nominees are entries from England, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, the Maldives and Georgia, whose 50 GEL note is full of medieval iconography. Source: Bloomberg
BY THEA MORRISON
eorgia’s 50 GEL banknote, which shows the image of Queen Tamar, has been nominated for the Oscars of Paper Currency 2016. The contest was announced by the International Bank Note Society (IBNS), which was founded in 1961 by a group of people who collected, traded, sold, and admired rare paper currency. Bloomberg reports that initially IBNS was a small community and for decades its activities extended to a trade journal, a membership directory, an annual mailbid auction, and networking events. But the rare-coin trade was growing into what the Professional Numismatists Guild estimates to be a USD 5 billion business. The first annual “Banknote of the Year” was held in 2005. Since then it has been held annually and the voters are members of the IBNS who chose the one banknote with the best combination of artistry and security. Among the nominees are entries from
England, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, the Maldives and Georgia, whose 50 GEL note is full of medieval iconography, ”has a holographic stripe and a magenta-togreen security thread.” ”On the front is Queen Tamar, who ruled the country from 1184 to 1213, a period known as the Georgian Golden Age,” the article in Bloomberg reads. IBNS says that nominations for the Banknote of the Year award will be accepted up to the 31 January 2017. Throughout February, IBNS members will evaluate each nomination against the core criteria of the Banknote of the Year award, and select their favorite. Each member of the IBNS will have a single vote for Banknote of the Year award. In the event of a tie, the IBNS President will have the casting vote. Designs that take advantage of modern security features will be well considered, taking into account the issuing authority and the value of the note. The winner of the Banknote of the Year award will be announced at the first board meeting. The winning entry will appear on the IBNS website and in the IBNS Journal.
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Georgian Honey to Enter EU Poster
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GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 6 - 8, 2016
Sustainable Energy Expo Georgia Development in Georgia: to Host Startup 2nd MEETING ROOM Market Exhibition Conference by PASHA Bank BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
n December 6 in Radisson Hotel, PASHA Bank hosted its second business conference under the auspices of MEETING ROOM with the chosen topic of ‘Sustainable Energy Development in Georgia- the Case for Hydro Power Plants. The conference was supported by the Ministry of Energy of Georgia, Electricity System Commercial Operator and Georgian National Energy and Water Regulatory Commission. The latest MEETING ROOM brought together a diverse group of players from public and private sectors to discuss major issues concerning sustainable energy development in the country where the majority of the electricity consumed
is generated by Hydro Power Plants. The MEETING ROOM covered, among other topics, the following: energy policy, tariff setting, power purchase agreements, country-specific challenges for greenfield hydro project development, available financing schemes and key requirements for financing HPPs. The presentations were delivered by the following speakers: Mariam Valishvili - Deputy Minister, Ministry of Energy of Georgia; Vakhtang Ambokadze - General Director, Electricity System Commercial Operator; Giorgi Pangani - Commissioner, Georgian National Energy and Water Regulatory Commission; Goga Japaridze - CCO, Member of the Board of Directors at PASHA Bank; Radoslav Dudolenski -
Chief Executive, Hydrolea; Giorgi Abramishvili - Managing Partner, Energy Solutions; and Ronny Solberg - CEO, Adjaristsqali Georgia LLC. “We will gather again in a MEETING ROOM this time to discuss the major issues concerning sustainable energy development in Georgia with the main focus on hydro power plant development and financing,” said Goga Japaridze prior to the event. “Since 2013 we have been engaging with a wide range of sectors in Georgia with energy being one of our primary areas of interest. We hope that this conference will be informative for current and prospective investors in the energy field, specifically those planning on investing in the development of HPPs. Positive feedback after our first MEETING ROOM event back in May inspired us to follow through with the cycle of the conferences, with two more planned for 2017.” MEETING ROOM is a project initiated by PASHA Bank: a cycle of business conferences that aims to bring together participants from various industries providing a platform for sharing ideas and best practices, as it relates to raising the capital for a wide range of industries. The first business conference of MEETING ROOM was dedicated to the Hotel Development and took place in May. The supporters of the conference were the Georgian Tourism Administration and Colliers International.
tartup Market, a movable event platform which aims to assist new entrepreneurs to promote their businesses, plans to create a marketplace in Expo Georgia’s 11th pavilion on December 17-18. The market will unite upcoming and already experienced entrepreneurs from different industries, offering them a multi-functional, free and alternative trading space, with the ambition to change the existing business ecosystem in the country. Clothing and accessories, shoes, woodcraft, ceramics, enamel, furniture, home décor, art, beauty, food and grocery, innovations, online businesses, jewellery and sports will all be presented at the upcoming event, organized by advertising agency Betterfly.
DECEMBER 6 - 8, 2016
2016 Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards Winners Announced BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
n December 2, the prestigious The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi hosted the second Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards which saw over 300 nominees from the tourism industry recognized for their support to growing tourism in the country. The award ceremony was opened by First Deputy Prime Minister Dimitry Kumsishvili, who spoke about importance of the project for the Georgian tourism industry and how necessary it is to encourage companies working in this field. He handed a special award for "CONTRIBUTION TO TOURISM DEVELOPMENT" to Mariam Kvrivishvili. Other speakers included Maryna Chayka, Co-Founder and CEO of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards, who made a moving speech in broken Georgian- to the delight of the audience- and Giorgi Chogovadze, Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration who spoke about the tourism sector and how it is booming, and gave a special diploma for contribution to the development of tourism between Ukraine and Georgia to Ukrainian Magazine ‘International Tourism Magazine.’ The glamorous awards ceremony saw a hall packed with General Managers and owners of the best hotels, restaurants, and wineries in Georgia, market leading developers, government officials, national and local authorities, and representatives of hotel operators, travel agencies and tour operators. Nominees were chosen first by online voting, with the final winners selected
by a Jury Board consisting of experts of the world and local travel, culture and hospitality market. The voting process was reviewed by an Independent Auditor of the Award BDO Georgia. The 2016 Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards winners are: Best Tourism Innovation: Check In Georgia (other nominees included: Welcome to Georgia, Mogzauri, CitySightseeing Tbilisi, and Discover Georgia In
Your Way) Best Boutique Accommodation: Vinotel (other nominees included: Tiflis Palace and Rooms Hotel) Best Incoming Tour Operator: Georgian Tour (other nominees included: Capital Georgia, Georgian Destination Management, and Interco Travel) Best Adventure Tourism: Rafting.ge (other nominees included: Zeta Camping, GeoTour and BHM)
Best Deluxe Accommodation: Crowne Plaza Borjomi (other nominees included: Tbilisi Marriiott, Hilton Batumi, and Divan Suites Batumi) Best Standard Accommodation: Courtyard Marriott Tbilisi (other nominees included: Prestige Palace, Coste, and Laerton Tbilisi) Best Festival or Event: GEM Fest (other nominees included: BIAFF, Art Bridge, Tourism&Reality, Kavkaz Jazz
Festival, and Kolga) Best Low Budget Accommodation: Eli Speli (other nominees included: Diwan Hostel and BHM) Best Mountain Resort: Rooms Hotel Gudauri (other nominees included: New Gudauri, Kazbegi, and Appollon) Best Sea Accommodation: Divan Suites (other nominees included: Castello Mare, Hilton Batumi, Admiral and Sheraton Batumi). “It is a great honor for us,” said the representatives of Divan Suites Batumi. “We are happy to contribute as we do to the Georgian tourism industry and my team and I thank you for this recognition.” Best Outbound Tour Operator: Easy Travel (other nominees included: Interco, Captain+, and turi.ge) Best Business Event Venue: Holiday Inn (other nominees included: EXPO Georgia, Hotels & Preference Tbilisi, LeoGrand Batumi) Best Tourism Restaurant Services: Georgian House (other nominees included: Hardrock, DineHall and Chateau Mukhrani) Best MICE Tourism: BTL (other nominees included: Georgian Tour and Local Host) Fastest Growing Company in the SME Segment: Continent Cron Palace (other nominees included: Turebi.ge, CitySightseeing Tbilisi and Inextravel) Best Wellness & Spa Accommodation: Lopota Resort & Spa (other nominees included: Crowne Plaza Borjomi, Sairme Resort, Kvareli Eden, Tskhaltubo Spa Hotel) B e s t Trave l P h o to g ra p h e r : Shermazana (other nominees included: Daro Sulakauri, Ika Kapanadze, Irakli Shavguridze) Best Tourism Winery: Winery Khareba (other nominees included: Sarajishvili, Chateau Mukhrani, and Vaziani Company). Best Sea Location was awarded to Hilton Batumi. “Georgia- you’re on the road to great success! We’re all in this together- this is an amazing part of the world and it’s to be celebrated!” said Stuart Nelson, Hotel General Manager at Hilton International. The Best Entertainment Venues GINO Paradise Tbilisi, Hard Rock Cafe and Tbilisi Event Hall were awarded with certificates. The main mission of the Welcome to Georgia! National Tourism Awards is to encourage the tourism and hospitality industry in Georgia and to promote awareness of the high-achieving tourism business and brands that create a positive image of the country worldwide. The Awards Project is supported by the Government of Georgia and the private business sector, co-organised by the GNTA, and Officially Supported by Bank of Georgia, Tbilisi City Hall and The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 6 - 8, 2016
Business Information Agency Rebranded
BY NINO GUGUNISHVILI
he Business Information Agency introduced a new brand to its customers on November 30. Founded in 2002, BIA is the largest and most up-to-date online database for companies registered in Georgia. With the new communication and action strategy implemented, the need for rebranding became obvious and the company logo has been changed to better identify and visualize the change in the organization, which offers a wide spectrum of new and innovative services to its clients. Leading Georgian company representatives attended
the presentation, and learned about the new services, introduced by Ayeti Kukava, Executive Director of BIA, and Salome Kukava, Project Manager. “Through our years of operation, we’ve helped thousands of Georgian companies to attract investments and establish new partnerships,” Kukava said. “BIA is tailored to Georgian companies in order to better facilitate market analysis for them, while bringing benefits to the Georgian economy and Georgian business sector.” A new promotional video with a detailed description of the product was featured during the event. BIA is a unique product in Georgia and the Caucasus region, delivering the latest information to local and international investors. The initiator of many successful projects, BIA was the first to launch a credit bureau ‘Credit Info Georgia.’
Philips & Aversi Clinic Team up to Improve Patient Care in Georgia
versi Clinic, in partnership with Philips, showcased the newly opened Hybrid Operation and Diagnostic Rooms which are equipped in accordance with the best international quality
standards. Dimitri Jorbenadze, General Director, and Kakha Kuntelia, Vascular Surgeon at Aversi Clinic, presented innovative healthcare solutions to representatives of the media and healthcare sectors. Minimally invasive and interventional surgery in the Philips Hybrid Operation Room, and the Philips MRI Diagnostic Room with the Ambient Experience Patient In-bore Solution, will deliver the highest possible quality in imaging, care and service. Such innovative medical technologies have been installed in a number of leading healthcare organizations around the globe. Innovative Hybrid Operations at Aversi Clinic offer the advantage of minimally invasive procedures, which result in shorter patient recovery time, greater patient comfort and faster patient throughput. The Philips / MAQUET equipment is customized to the needs of both patients and clinicians. The Operation Room combines the equipment needed for both minimally invasive and open surgical procedures. The best-in-class Philips Allura Clarity angiographic system is able to achieve a 75 percent reduction in X-ray dose while maintaining the excellent image quality needed during image-guided interventions. The Diagnostic Room is equipped with a wide range of Philips healthcare solutions, including the Philips Ingenia MRI and the Ambient Experience Patient In-bore Solution. The MRI is one of the most important diagnostic tools in clinical practice and the Philips Ingenia 3.0T digital MRI system provides clinicians with detailed high-quality images needed to help diagnose many different anatomical and structural problems—including brain and nervous system disorders, cardiovascular and organ diseases. The scanner enables imaging with fewer
coils and reduces patient preparation time. To obtain the highest quality MRI images, patients are required to remain still during the scanning process, which can last for approximately one hour. Remaining still under these conditions can prove challenging and stressful. To provide patients of Aversi Clinic with a relaxing atmosphere during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations, Philips installed the Ambient Experience In-bore Solution which integrates dynamic lighting, projection, sound, spatial design and workflow improvements to reduce patient anxiety and movement and enable the clinic to offer an engaging and comfortable environment. “This highly-flexible hybrid operation room is optimal for minimally invasive and open surgical procedures,” and Aversi representative told GEORGIA TODAY. “We are delighted to work closely with Philips to improve the patient experience and deliver a whole new standard of care in Georgia. And what is especially important, all equipment is from Philips, which has been cooperating with MAQUET for more than 10 years.” Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people’s health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. The company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips’ health technology portfolio generated 2015 sales of EUR 16.8 billion and employs approximately 69,000, with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at www.philips.com/newscenter.
DECEMBER 6 - 8, 2016
Turkish Airlines Introduces Georgia to Turkish Travel Sector Reps
BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES
workshop was organized on November 29 at the Istanbul Hilton Bosphorus Hotel to introduce the tourism potential of Georgia and Azerbaijan to representatives of the tourism industry in Turkey. The Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), together with a number of agencies and hotels in Georgia and Azerbaijan, was invited as a guest of Turkish Airlines to meet with agencies in Istanbul. Irakli Asashvili, the Consul General of Georgia in Istanbul, and Esmira Huseynova, Azerbaijan
Consul in Istanbul, participated in the talks. The representatives of various Turkish tourism sector agencies were present to discuss potential future projects. “It is a great advantage that Turkish citizens can visit Georgia without a passport,” said Mert Dorman, Vice President, Sales (Eastern Europe and The Balkans) at Turkish Airlines. “We offer six daily flights to Georgia in summer and five daily flights in winter. We aim to facilitate the development of projects with travel agencies in order to increase the diversity of tourists in the South Caucasus. We are ready for new cooperation with both tour operators and agencies." The meeting was organization by the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB).
Excise Tax to Be Further Reduced for Hybrid Cars BY NATIA LIPARTELIANI
rom 2017 onwards, in accordance with changes planned by the Government of Georgia, the excise tax for hybrid cars will be reduced. As the legislation stipulates, 0-6 year-old hybrid cars will see a decrease of 10 percent.
Armenian Airlines & Georgian Airways to Launch Joint Flights to Europe
BY NATIA LIPARTELIANI
Read. Learn. Enjoy. Pick up a copy of Georgia Today Education at any BIBLUS shop or phone 229 59 19 Price: 2 Gel
"Taking into consideration the environmental policy, for 0-6 year-old vehicles, the excise rates defined by the same sub-paragraph will decrease. In the case of hybrid vehicles, tax will be reduced to 60 percent, instead of the 50 percent that we have today" - it states in the Law on the Tax Code of Georgia, Amendments to the Tax Code. The excise tax was reduced by 50 percent for 0-6 year-old hybrid cars in May this year.
n April 2017, Armenian Airlines and Georgian Airways will begin carrying out joint flights to Europe. The project will include destinations such as London, Barcelona and Brussels. "At the outset, the aircraft will travel with passengers from Tbilisi to Yerevan, and from Yerevan take on passengers heading to Brussels. To London, planes will fly on the same principle, but from Yerevan via Tbilisi," says the General Director of Armenia Airline, Robert Oganesyan. Armenian Airlines will fly directly to Europe.
Oganesyan says the idea is not new but the parties encountered various challenges in the application. Now though, they are set to fly. Armenian Airlines founder Tamaz Gaiashvili notes that for a long time the company had faced problems with the threat of bankruptcy, which is why Georgian Airways were invited to invest. Yet that bankruptcy is not yet fully solved: as Gaiashvili says, the open sky policy that the Armenian Government has is dangerous for countries such as Armenia and Georgia. "There is criminal competition in the field of Armenian civil aviation. In Armenia, tickets are sold in Drams, then the Drams are converted and taken out of the country, with nothing coming in. It is one reason for the current inflation," he says.
GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 6 - 8, 2016
INTERVIEW: Michael Everson Publisher and Owner of Evertype BY NATIA LIPARTELIANI
n November 27, the annual Google festival Devfest was held in Tbilisi in Tech Park Georgia, with the key theme of adding the Georgian alphabet ‘Asmotavruli’ to Unicode. GEORGIA TODAY interviewed special guest of Devfest Tbilisi 2016, Michael Everson, who is an American and Irish linguist, script encoder, typesetter, font designer, and publisher. His central area of expertise is writing systems of the world and he is considered an expert in computer encoding of scripts.
WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO VISIT GEORGIA THIS YEAR? There is a problem in Georgian computing and I'm trying to work with Georgians to help fix it. The problem itself was identified year ago when the Georgians applied for the Georgian script to be
added to Unicode but found the people in the Unicode technical committee either reluctant or cautious to add the characters. I’m pretty sure this is because they don’t quite understand the nature of the problem. The Devfest 2016 was an opportunity for me to meet a number of people in the technical world and also the Minister of Education.
WHAT WAS THE MAIN PROBLEMS? The main problem is that ‘Asomtavruli’ is not reliably accessible on computers. There is no standard way of doing it and in our opinion the reason is that Georgian is a casing script no different from Latin or Cyrillic- it has capital letters which are called ‘Mtavruli’ and it has lower-case letters which are called ‘Mkheedruli’. The difference between Georgian and other casing alphabets, which also includes Armenian, Greek and others, is that the rule for spelling that we have in English for instance is: "begin your sentence with a capital letter, begin people’s names and city names and things like that with a capital letter" and in Georgian the rule is different. The rule is to use lower case letters all
Annual Charity Gala ‘Restore Life’
merican Friends of Georgia is organizing a charity event ‘Restore Life’ at Garden Hall, on December 10, 2016 at 18:00 to restore a tradition of philanthropy and to benefit the most needy children and elderly in Georgia. All funds raised at the event will go to support the reconstruction of the Dzegvi orphanage/shelter and palliative care program for the most needy elderly. The Mercy Center Hospice and Home Care Program—this is the first Hospice in Georgia and the only Hospice Nursing School and Home Care Program. AFG’s Gala in December will benefit this project, which has introduced palliative care to Georgia. Beneficiary: more than 100 elderly (most needy) who need palliative home care. For many seriously ill patients, hospice and palliative care offers a comfortable alternative to spending your final months in the impersonal environment of a hospital. Palliative medicine helps patients manage pain while a hospice provides special care to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their family. Seeking hospice and palliative care isn’t about giving up hope or hastening death, but rather a way to get the most appropriate care in the last phase of life. The Dzegvi Community—Dzegvi Former Street Children Orphanage (established in 1995) since 2010 has become a shelter for mentally and physically disabled, former street children and single mothers who have nowhere else to go. This project
Back in the 90s I helped to encode Tibetanso any Tibetian person who sits at the computer and types today is using some of my work; they don’t know I did it, and probably never will, unless somebody reads a Wikipedia article about me. I’ve always been fascinated with writing systems and it turned out I was good at analyzing them, putting them into proposals and encoding them.
WHAT ABOUT FUTURE PLANS, ARE THERE ANY WRITING SYSTEMS THAT NEED TO BE INCLUDED IN UNICODE?
YOU’VE BEEN WORKING ON THE WORLD’S WRITING SYSTEMS FOR 20 YEARS. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE LARGEST IMPACT OF YOUR WORK? I’m like a plumber. When you’re building a house a plumber has to come and lay the pipes- and you want the plumber to put the pipes down in the right way. So he lays the pipes and walk away and the house is built and you move in and never spare the plumber another thought (unless something goes wrong!). I'm the plumber of writing systems.
There is definitely more work to do. For example, in western Africa they are still inventing new writing systems for their languages, some of which are really very good and have been used by many people and some of which are impossibly complicated and I can’t see how anyone can actually take notes. And there is a writing system called ‘Bliss Symbols,’ which can be used by disabled people who can’t speak. We did encode the alphabet for sign language, which represents hand gestures, and that was pretty interesting.
is located in Dzegvi and is run by Mother Mariam Japaridze, a nun who lived with the street children at the orphanage for years. Today they have 80 inhabitants (20 children and 60 adults and elderly). This new community center will help additional homeless elderly, mentally ill and physically handicapped, and abandoned mothers with their children. For the past few years, this celebration has been a wonderful, elegant event for the community, which has helped AFG to support the most vulnerable children and elderly. It has been made possible by generous sponsorship donations from corporations as well as AmCham, diplomatic missions, prominent Georgian artists and musicians. The event Committee is putting together an extraordinary program for the evening with a cocktail reception, live auction by well-known Georgian and Foreign Artists, and raffle prizes, a dancing party, New Year surprises and lots more. The last year AFG Charity Gala, in its ninth year, raised a record amount of USD 111,300. In the Christmas mood we hope you will open your hearts and join us in making difference for those vulnerable children and elderly who are in need! American Friends of Georgia’s Charity gala is the most important and largest of its kind celebrated in Georgia. WHERE: Garden Hall WHEN: December 10, 18:00
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the time, unless you are using capitals letters, in which case ALL the letters in a word have to be with a capital.” That is a spelling rule, while the structure of the script is still casing. The spelling rule differs from other casing alphabets though: we learned that in late 19th century and early 20th century, there were some books that used ‘Mtavruli’ in the way that Russian and English do. I don’t know how many such books there were. In any case, that orthography did not last, so we’ve been trying to explain to the Unicode community that this is a matter of spelling, not a matter of structure.
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DECEMBER 6 - 8, 2016
It’s Good to Be Bad
he fascinating new perfume from Carolina Herrera will spark enthusiasm in the brand’s devoted female fans as the new sexy oriental Good Girl aroma arrives with thrilling sensations for 2016. Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world. Such was the inspiration for GOOD GIRL. The result: a uniquely designed bottle in the shape of a stiletto. Perfume is an accessory. As with couture, creating a scent is a long and thoughtful process. GOOD GIRL's fragrance is inspired by Carolina Herrera's unique vision of the modern woman: audacious, sexy, elegant and enigmatic who is forever pushing and crossing the limits. GOOD GIRL is as powerful as it is sensual; an audacious blend of dark and light elements. A Good Girl who hides a mischievous side in a “It's Good To Be Bad” mood comes to life with this twofold addictive oriental experience: an extreme burst of Tuberose Tonka, a revolutionary olfactory creation, where the floral luminance of tuberose and jasmine contrast with the potent and captivating sensuality of roasted Tonka beans. Unveil your compelling Good character through the bright touch of tuberose and the finest variety Sambac Jasmine; provoke your careless Bad side with addictive notes of roasted Tonka beans and Cocoa. It's so good to be bad! The beauty of couture combined with a highly innovative savoir faire as only the House of Herrera could achieve. A weapon of seduction for the woman who wears it. It’s not enough to turn heads— jaws must drop, glances transform into stares. When a GOOD GIRL clicks her heels, she has the city at her feet. Her presence has a way of lingering over space and time. It flirts with the uncon-
Georgia to Develop National Mechanism to Protect Disabled People’s Rights BY THEA MORRISON
scious, becoming a memory impossible to shake. SHE IS MODERN, SENSUAL AND POWERFUL. GOOD GIRL is showing the world what the power of femininity looks like, smells like, feels like.
Carolina Herrera Good Girl is now available in 50 and 80 ml Eau de Parfum in Georgia at Ici Paris stores. Advertising
ecember 3 is the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. In connection with the day, the Government of Georgia presented its first report to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which describes the country's progress since the ratification of the Convention in 2013. The event took place in Expo Georgia and was organized by the Administration of the Government of Georgia in close cooperation with the Parliament of Georgia, and with support from the European Union in Georgia and UNDP Georgia. The report examines challenges faced by the country on the way to building a more inclusive and equitable environment for its citizens. The preparation of the report was coordinated by the Human Rights Secretariat of the Administration of the Government of Georgia, in cooperation with the Parliament of Georgia and respective ministries. Head of the Human Rights Secretariat of the Administration of the Government of Georgia, Natalia Jaliashvili delivered speech at the event and said that protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the utmost priority of the government. “The state reaffirms its commitment to continuing the implementation process of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We will develop and implement a comprehensive policy to abolish the existing social barriers that hinder persons with disabilities from full and effective participation in all spheres of public life,” she noted. Yvonne Gogoll, Program Manager of
the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, underlined that disabled people are able to make an enormous contribution to European society, but often face barriers. “The EU promotes the active inclusion and full participation of disabled people in society, in line with the EU human rights approach to disability issues. The values of dignity, autonomy, equality and inclusion are key EU principles," Gogoll said. Georgia's first report to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was submitted in September 2016. This will be followed by suggestions and general recommendations on the implementation of the Convention from the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Georgia’s Public Defender, Ucha Nanuashvili published a statement in connection with the International Day for Persons with Disabilities in which he said that social protection was one of the main challenges facing Georgia. The Ombudsman noted that the State should employ disabled people and provide them with continuous inclusive education, especially in the remote regions of the country. He also called on the government to ensure proper protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and their full participation in public life. The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992 and since then it has been celebrated annually throughout the world. The Day works to promote public awareness on the rights of persons with disabilities, to draw attention to their needs, and to protect and support their dignity, all of which will finally ensure their full participation and inclusion in society.