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Issue no: 1108/159

• DECEMBER 11 - 13, 2018

• PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

FOCUS ON KAZAKHSTAN

A look at one Kazakh woman's story with the Tbilisinomics blog and the Astana International Financial Center conference

PAGE 10,12

PRICE: GEL 2.50

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

Real GDP Growth Expected to Reach 4.6% as Manufacturing, Trade & Construction Sectors Drive Strong Performance ISET PAGE 4

CEO of Adjara Group: We Are Proud to Have Changed Perceptions towards Local Brands & Promoted Georgia BUSINESS PAGE 5

Margvelashvili Calls on Gov't Not to Abolish Presidential Fund

Seedstars in Ukraine to Shape the Future of Tech Entrepreneurship

BY THEA MORRISON

O

utgoing President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, whose term expires on December 16 when the first female president Salome Zurabishvili will be inaugurated, has called on the government not to abolish the Presidential Fund. The President called on the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) government to reverse their decision regarding the fund, adding it is of huge importance for the institute of the President. Continued on page 2

BUSINESS PAGE 8

Post-Factum Political Fluids Image source: RFE/RL

POLITICS PAGE 15 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by

Markets Asof07ͲDecͲ2018

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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 11 - 13, 2018

Margvelashvili Calls on Gov't Not to Abolish Presidential Fund @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: Meet brothers Irakli and Levan Gamtenadze and their glasses brand Bros Eyewear, established two years ago and aiming to produce high quality, stylish and comfortable accessories using Georgian natural wood. Bros Eyewear recently added watches to its portfolio. The watches are also made from natural wood with no chemical ingredients. In 2019 the brothers will open their first factory with their own investment of 40,000 Gel aiming to increase production capacity four times. Good luck to the brave brothers! Travelers visiting Georgia, particularly the Kazbegi region, will enjoy new dining location Stockholm, which offers a Swedishstyle buffet against the background of fascinating views of the Kazbegi landscape. The idea came to Kote Mosidze while visiting his friend, now business partner, Tornike Abashidze, in Sweden. They decided to open a Swedish style restaurant in Kazbegi delivering famous Swedish dishes with added Georgian spices. Stockholm features an open kitchen, and has already proven popular amongst visitors. Ninea is a lingerie startup founded by three friends – Neliko Tordia, Ani Ioseliani and Nino Lezhava. Although they had no previous experience, they really wanted to start their own business. They managed to find a niche in Made in Georgia lingerie and started producing quality underwear using only natural raw materials. Today, Ninea owns a production factory and a showroom and intends to launch a male and children's line in addition to its already famous lingerie line. 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

Continued from page 1 "I would like to urge our government not to deprive the President of the opportunity to communicate with the public. This fund is an opportunity to have personal contact with the community. The government should not cancel the fund but should give more opportunities to the future president to serve the country. I hope they will listen to me,” Margvelashvili stated at the presentation of the report summing up the activities of the Fund. He also spoke about the importance of the president’s institute in general, noting that despite the reduced powers, the leader of Georgia is the face of the country, elected democratically. Funding of the new Georgian President’s Administration is set to be reduced by around GEL 4 million and its reserve fund will be totally abolished. The changes are reflected in the 2019 draft budget of Georgia. According to the document, the budget of the Presidential Administration will be GEL 6 million, down from GEL 9,800,000 in 2018. The Presidential Reserve Fund in the 2018 budget was GEL 5 million, which will not be allocated from the state budget next year. In addition, the number of employees of the new President’s Administration will be reduced by about 60%. Currently, 140 people are working in the administration but 2019 draft budget says this number will be reduced to 60. President-Elect of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili commented on the issue, saying it is a budgetary process and there is nothing problematic about it. "This is a budgetary process. We are cooperating. There is no problem," she told media. Zurabishvili’s only opponent in the November 28 runoff, Grigol Vashadze, says that the government’s latest move “degrades the president’s institute.”

“The government is insulting this person [Zurabishvili], they are already taking measures to restrict her rights,” he stressed. There are two reserve funds in the country: The Government’s Reserve Fund and the President’s Fund. Deputy Finance Minister Giorgi Kakauridze says the country does not need two state funds, noting that no other country has such a practice. “We’ll have consultations about this until the 2019 budget is approved, and the final version will be agreed with the President and her administration,” he stated. In 2014-2018, 405 projects of more than 100 organizations were financed from the President's Reserve Fund. The President’s Administration says the ultimate goal of the reserve fund is to support the establishment and development of democratic values and state institutes in Georgia. The fund supports: 1. Initiatives for ethnic minority inte-

gration and protection of their rights; 2. Cooperation with higher educational institutions directed towards raising the quality of education in Georgia; 3. Initiatives supporting the comprehensive development of the regions of Georgia, include highland regions; 4. Initiatives directed towards the protection of the rights of children and improvement of quality of life; 5. Initiatives supporting the strengthening of Court government; 6. Initiatives directed towards increasing the self-defense of Georgia; 7. Initiatives for the maintenance and development of cultural diversity; 8. Women’s rights protection activities; 9. Deepening and accelerating of European integration; 10. Initiatives for making the state social sphere healthier; 11. Other initiatives supporting the establishment and development of democratic values and state institutes; 12. Other measures and initiatives on the decision of the President.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 11 - 13, 2018

Bulgarian Embassy in Georgia Celebrates Upcoming Holidays with Children’s Crafts & Entertainment BY KATIE RUTH DAVIES

T

he Bulgarian Embassy in Georgia welcomed children and their parents from the Bulgarian diaspora and local community to unite for an annually-held evening of crafts, delicious Georgian and Bulgarian savories and sweets and traditional singing at the Embassy on December 7. Ambassador Desislava Ivanova welcomed the Bulgarian citizens, their families and their Georgian friends, noting the importance of coming together to celebrate this important international holiday and preserving the Bulgarian traditions of song and crafts. Children of various nationalities came together

around a well-supplied crafts table and were given free-reign to create Christmas scenes and decorations. Guests were introduced to the Bulgarian ‘survachka,’ a curled branch of a cornel tree which adults bent and tied to resemble the Cyrillic letter "f" (Ф). These the children then decorated with popcorn, small bagels, wool and beads. We were then told of the Survakane ritual in which a member of the family, typically the youngest, lightly pats the back of others with a survachka during Christmas or on the morning of New Year's Day while reciting a short verse wishing their relative well for the new year. Afterwards, these children are awarded snacks, candy, or small amounts of money. Children at the event were encouraged to sing together, first in Bulgarian and then ‘Jingle Bells’ in English and were then gifted packages of chocolates.

ECHR Accepts Georgia's Lawsuit against Russia over Tatunashvili Case Image source: Council of Europe

BY THEA MORRISON

T

he European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has accepted the lawsuit of Empathy- the Georgian rehabilitation center for victims of torture -“Tatunashvili against the Russian Federa-

tion." Mariam Jishkariani, the head of the center, says the lawsuit is accompanied by voluminous evidence confirming that Archil Tatunashvili was tortured in Tskhinvali (South Ossetia), a region of Georgia occupied by the Russian Federation. Jishkariani says that Russia is to be held responsible for Tatunashvili’s murder in breakaway Tskhinvali, as it exercises power there. “The lawsuit contains about 800 pages, including the 87-page forensic examination report and around 40 pieces of evidence confirming that Tatunashvili was tortured in Tskhinvali,” she stressed. Georgian citizen and former soldier, Archil Tatunashvili, detained in late February by de facto South Ossetian forces, was tortured using various methods, as a result of which he died. The Empathy report was released on August 22 and contains the assessment of 10 experts who participated in the examination of Tatunashvili’s body. The experts agreed that Tatunashvili had more than 100 injuries on different parts of his body. The report says that these injuries were inflicted by thick, blunt objects many times to cause pain, by a group of people. “In the detention facility of breakaway Tskhinvali,

law enforcers inflicted strong physical and mental trauma or injury to Archil Tatunashvili, followed by the loss of human life, against the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of an international human rights treaty, under the United Nations,” the report reads. The center said Tatunashvili had wounds on his legs, hands and palms. Also, as report says, some of his fingers were broken and his genitals damaged. The 35-year-old man also had many bruises all over his body, and a skull injury. “Taking into account these facts, Archil Tatunashvili's death is directly related to his torture, which took place on February 22, 2018 in the occupied Tskhinvali territory. As a result, the main cause of his death was established – torture,” the report reads. Tatunashvili and two other Georgian men were detained by occupant forces on February 22 and taken to a breakaway Tskhinvali detention facility. The next day, the de facto law enforcers released information that Tatunashvili had died. The puppet regime stated he died of heart failure but later said he resisted the guards and fell down the stairs and was taken to hospital, where he passed away. De facto authorities of South Ossetia handed the body to the Georgian side only on March 20. After the autopsy, Tatunashvili was buried with military honor at the Mukhatgverdi Brothers Cemetery near Tbilisi. Tatunashvili's father Givi Tatunashvili hopes that the European Court of Human Rights will deliver a guilty verdict against the murderers of his son. “I hope that the criminals will be charged and a guilty verdict will be delivered," he said.

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 11 - 13, 2018

Real GDP Growth Expected to Reach 4.6% as Manufacturing, Trade & Construction Sectors Drive Strong Performance BY DAVIT KESHELAVA AND YASYA BABYCH

I

SET-PI has updated its forecast of Georgia’s real GDP growth rate for the fourth quarter of 2018, and the first quarter of 2019. These are the highlights of this month’s release:

HIGHLIGHTS • Geostat recently updated its preliminary estimate of real GDP growth for the first and second quarters of 2018. The Q1 and Q2 GDP growth estimates were revised downward to 5.2% and 5.6%, respectively. The third quarter estimates

so far remained unchanged. • The real GDP growth rate reached 6.7% year-on-year for October 2018. Consequently, the estimated real GDP for the first ten months of 2018 was 5.1%. • ISET-PI’s real GDP growth forecast for the fourth quarter of 2018 remains at 3.7%. • Based on October’s data, we expect the annual growth in 2018 to be 4.6%. • The growth rate in the first quarter of 2019 is predicted to be 3.1%. Based on the available data from October, the growth forecast for 2018-2019 remains largely stable. While the changes in the current GDP forecast do not appear to be significant, a few variables deserve our attention. In particular, rapidly increasing national currency deposits; relatively high growth in manufacturing, trading and construction; improved tourism statistics; and reduced energy consumption each played an important role in establishing the current GDP forecast.

NATIONAL CURRENCY DEPOSITS The first set of variables that have had a significant positive effect on our forecast relate to national currency deposits in commercial banks. In October, all types of national currency deposits from the most liquid - currency in circulation (up by 10% yearly) - to the least liquid - time deposits with a maturity of more than 12 months (up by 39% yearly) experienced double-digit growth in annual terms. The largest yearly increase was again observed for national currency time deposits with a maturity of less than 3 months, which increased by 73%, relative to the same month of the previous year. It is noteworthy that in a modern economy, the greatest proportion of a money

supply is in the form of deposited currency, which is created by commercial banks - banks accumulate the minor savings of individuals, and provide funds for investment projects that contribute to higher GDP growth. In Georgia, the money supply is principally measured by broad money (M3 aggregate), and has increased significantly (14%) compared to October 2017.

GROWTH IN TRADING, MANUFACTURING, AND CONSTRUCTION Developments in manufacturing and trade have positively affected our growth forecast. According to Geostat, the manufacturing, trading and construction sectors were the most important contributors to real GDP growth in October. Despite the region’s slowdown in growth (the average growth rate, in Q3 2018, for neighboring countries has reduced markedly - 3.9% in Armenia , 1.5% in Russia and only 0.6% in Azerbaijan), Georgian exports continued to expand, increasing by 15%, relative to the same month of the previous year. Moreover, the re-export of Automobiles and export (partly reexport) of Cigarettes and Cigars to Azerbaijan were the main contributors to total export growth. Despite a reduction in Ferro-alloys exports to Russia and the re-export of Copper Ores and Concentrates to China, the overall export of Ferro-alloys and Copper Ores and Concentrates increased respectively by 65% and 12%, compared to the same month of the previous year (the main factors were the export of these goods to Spain and Bulgaria). According to Geostat, the construction sector was another key contributor behind real GDP growth. The development of this sector was due to infrastructural projects undertaken by the government of Georgia, in particular the building of roads and bridges. In the first nine months of 2018, the Georgian government executed only slightly fewer than 81% of its planned infrastructural projects (as measured by the increase in non-financial assets). It is worth mentioning there is still no information available about the number of permits given to construction companies in October (this number reduced by 4.6% from January-September). The development in the construction sector therefore contributes to the positive outlook on growth - it is widely recognized that infrastructural investment is one of the precursors of longterm growth.

of the previous year, moreover, the number of tourists annually rose by 15.1% and accounted for 67% of all international visitors. According to our forecasting model, tourism made a significant positive contribution to the GDP growth forecast. However, the energy sector made a small negative contribution to the growth forecast. After the generation deficit of September, the trend in decreasing generation continued into October, while the gap between consumption and production kept widening. In particular, the total electricity generation decreased by 5% compared to the same month of the previous year. This reduction, on a yearly basis, is specifically due to the decrease in hydropower (-1%) and thermal power generation (-17%), which more than offsets the increase in wind power plant generation (+4%). Moreover, electricity consumption increased by 3% compared to the same month of 2017. In order to satisfy this demand for electricity, and close the gap

between generation and consumption, Georgia had to increase the amount of electricity imported. The volume of imported electricity increased by 46% in annual terms. It is also significant that imports in October 2018 reached their greatest extent for the last 11 years. Our forecasting model is based on the Leading Economic Indicator (LEI) methodology developed by the New Economic School, Moscow, Russia. We constructed a dynamic model of the Georgian economy, which assumes that all economic variables, including GDP itself, are driven by a small number of factors that can be extracted from the data well before the GDP growth estimates are published. For each quarter, ISET-PI produces five consecutive monthly forecasts (or “vintages”), which increase in precision as time goes on. Our first forecast (1st vintage) is available about five months before the end of the quarter in question. The last forecast (5th vintage) is published in the first month of the next quarter.

TOURISM AND ENERGY SECTORS Another significant factor that contributed substantially to real GDP growth was the increasing number of tourists in Georgia. The number of international visitors to Georgia increased by 8.5% in October compared to the same month

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 11 - 13, 2018

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CEO of Adjara Group: We Are Proud to Have Changed Perceptions towards Local Brands & Promoted Georgia EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

A

djara Group is the largest and fastest growing company in the Georgian hospitality sector. It is a leader in implementing new standards, efficient management practices, and innovative ideas. It has gained international recognition with unique Georgian brands such as Rooms Hotel in Tbilisi and Kazbegi, Stamba Hotel, and the hip and hipster-friendly Fabrika Hostel and complex. GEORGIA TODAY had the opportunity to talk with Valeri Chekheria, CEO of Adjara Group.

ONE OF YOUR BEST-KNOWN HOTELS, STAMBA, WON ‘NEW CONCEPT OF THE YEAR’ AT THE AHEAD AWARDS IN LONDON LAST MONTH. HOW DID IT FEEL TO BE RECOGNIZED LIKE THAT? It was unbelievable and feels like we won an Oscar. It is the most prestigious award in our industry. We are very proud and honored to be recognized by the leading figures in the hospitality and lifestyle sectors as well as in architecture, design and gastronomy. It goes without saying that the award brings many benefits to the country and particularly to Tbilisi as one of the key destinations in the world. I believe It is a victory not only for the hotel and the company but for the entire country.

WHEN ADJARA GROUP BEGAN DEVELOPING THE STAMBA CONCEPT, DID YOU HAVE ANY EXPECTATION THAT THE INNOVATION AND CREATIVE DESIGN ELEMENTS WOULD BE SO SUCCESSFUL? Well, of course, we were hoping for the best. We are

always very confident in our projects and creations. We put so much passion, love and energy in trying to develop the most unique hotel experience- without faith in its success, this would not be possible. We push boundaries and set new trends. Therefore, our properties become innovations not only by local standards but by international measures. I am very happy that we contribute to building the country’s image abroad and showing the modern face of Georgia through our brands and creations while also offering the best to the local community.

AG STARTED IN 2010 WITH A HOLIDAY INN FRANCHISE, THEN BRANCHED OUT INTO ITS OWN BRANDS, STARTING WITH ROOMS. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO MAKE THAT TRANSITION? Yes, in 2010, the company entered the Georgian hospitality sector by introducing and managing the first local Holiday Inn franchise, which successfully pushed the design and concept boundaries for the international brand. The transition happened in 2012 when Adjara Group converted an abandoned Soviet-era sanatorium in the mountainous region of Kazbegi into what quickly became the first Georgian lifestyle brand of Rooms Hotels. It has since gained global recognition and praise for its unparalleled location, architecture and design. Today’s hospitality is about experience and discovery rather than solely about seeking accommodation. Therefore, we believe that our Georgian brands provide better access to the local community and offer the best of national art, culture and gastronomy. As I mentioned before, we offer a local experience to our guests through our brands and properties.

IT IS OFTEN SAID THAT GEORGIANS ARE VERY BRAND-CONSCIOUS AND

PREFER WELL KNOWN INTERNATIONAL BRANDS. WAS THERE ANY APPREHENSION ABOUT CREATING A NEW BRAND, UNKNOWN TO GEORGIANS, IN ROOMS, AG’S FIRST INDEPENDENT-BRAND VENTURE? Yes, it used to be, but that is no longer the case. We are proud to have changed perceptions towards local brands by promoting and supporting Georgian products. Through our properties we have introduced very talented Georgian chefs, artists, architects, designers and young entrepreneurs. Today, I am happy to see that Georgians have regained trust and are more inclined to purchase national products and creations which stand out for their uniqueness.

THE STYLES OF ROOMS, FABRIKA AND STAMBA HAVE INSPIRED COUNTLESS BARS, RESTAURANTS AND HOSTELS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THE DESIGN AESTHETIC FOR YOUR PROPERTIES AND HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN ITS WILD POPULARITY? Our hotels are mostly created by the in-house team of architects and interior designers responsible for the company’s construction projects. The creative team of 12 is known for turning historic and abandoned brutalist structures into stylish, contemporary properties. Temur Ugulava, founder of Adjara Group, is personally involved in every phase of the development process, from concept through construction to interior design. It also happens that we partner with other companies. Fabrika, for instance, was created in partnership with Multiverse Architecture and Rooms Studio was involved in the design of Rooms Hotel Kazbegi.

I suppose the popularity comes from our approach to creating new concepts. We do not follow the typical construction frames of pre-determined renders, but choose to make creative decisions on a daily basis. Therefore, our hotels are not copied images of already existing plans, but instead turn out to be organic, authentic and full of life.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS FROM AG – ANY MORE GROUNDBREAKING, INNOVATIVE PROJECTS? We are hoping to develop new projects across the country. Rooms Hotel Kokhta-Mitarbi will open in 2019. Also, Adjara Group has invested in 3,000 hectares of land in Kakheti. The goal of the project is to develop the land with the help of the local population, establish an agricultural hub while transforming the area into a grand tourist destination. The Black Sea region is also of interest and we will most likely engage in new projects there in the future.

Georgian: the First Shop for Tourists, Launched by ‘Biblusi’

TRANSLATED BY KETEVAN KVARATSKHELIYA

T

he largest book store chain in Georgia ‘Biblusi’ has launched its first tourist store, named ‘Georgian’. Located at David Aghmashenebeli 55, ‘Georgian’ is one of a kind and offers a great variety of Georgian products to visitors of the country. The representatives of Biblus state that ‘Georgian’ will not only promote Georgian products to tourists, but will also become a catalyst for the development of Georgian entrepreneurship. “We would like tourists to feel the positive environ of Georgia during their visit, and along with the pleasure they get in our country, to have the

opportunity to buy products of high-quality Georgian brands. Despite the fact that ‘Georgian’ is new, the products presented there are diverse. The shop will become even more interesting and attractive

in the near future,” said a Biblus representative. Georgian national clothing, unique Georgian souvenirs, Georgian honey, Georgian sweets and beverages, books and other interesting items are

presented in ‘Georgian’. There is a special corner for Georgian wine advisor Allwine.ge, with around 500 types of the Georgian wine on display, with free tasting available. Yet this is not only a place for tourists, as locals are expected to enjoy the experience just as much. The representatives of Biblus are focused on their desire to encourage Georgian entrepreneurs. ‘Georgian’ is ready for new partnerships and to contribute to the promotion of Georgian products, vital for Georgian production to be spread on the international market. Biblus is a Georgian book store chain with 60 book stores throughout the country. Café Piatto, Art and Craft studios, Biblus Galleries and ‘Georgian’ are ready to welcome both local and foreign guests.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 11 - 13, 2018

Georgia’s Responsible Business Awards Meliora 2018 to Name Best Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives

I

n the frames of the EU-funded project ‘Georgian Civil Society Sustainability Initiative,’ the Awards Ceremony of Georgia’s Responsible Business Awards Meliora 2018 will be held. The contest, organized by the Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG), will be held on December 13, 8 PM, at The Biltmore Hotel, Tbilisi. 41 companies with 76 corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects/initiatives participated in Georgia’s Responsible Business Awards. The independent jury consists of leading Georgian and international experts from Great Britain, USA, Belgium, Denmark, Israel, Norway, Slovakia and other countries. Georgian jury members, who represent international and local civil society organizations, will be announced during the Awards Ceremony. Approximately 250 guests will attend the Awards’ Ceremony. Among them are representatives of the diplomatic corps - Ambassador of European Union to Georgia Carl Harzzell, and Ambassador of Sweden to Georgia Ulrik Tideström; Georgian authorities represented by Tamar Khulordava, Chairperson of European Integration Committee of Parliament of Georgia; European field experts and international jury members of the contest - Anna Bolt, Awards Manager at Business in the Community, Prince’s Responsible Business Network and Pavel Hrica, Manager of prestigious CSR award in Slovakia ‘Via Bona’; and representatives of the participating companies, as well as civil society organizations and leading businesses in Georgia. Live music will be provided by David Evgenidze and his band and the anchors of the event will be Irakli Kakabadze and Salome Arshba. “We welcome and support initiatives which endorse and appreciate businesses that do an amazing job in CSR and efforts

which encourage other companies as well to take up social responsibility,” said Eka Urushadze, the Executive Director of CSRDG. The Contest is supported by international and local business associations and the Government of Georgia, including: the Academy of the Ministry of Finance; Committee of European Integration of Parliament of Georgia; Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia; Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia; Tbilisi City Hall; Embassy of Sweden to Georgia; United State Agency for International Development (USAID); Association of Communication Agencies of Georgia (ACAG); CENN; Georgian Business Association (BAG); Georgia’s Inno-

vation and Technology Agency; Georgian Microfinance Association; Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Enterprise Georgia; European Business Association (EBA); EU-Georgia Business Council (EUGBC); International Chamber of Commerce (ICC); World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The special ‘Waste Management’ category of Georgia’s Responsible Business Awards is supported by USAID-funded Waste Management Technologies in the Regions Program (Phase II) implemented by CENN and the special category of ‘Creative CSR’ is endorsed by the Association of Communication Agencies of Georgia (ACAG). The names of the winning companies will be available after Awards Ceremony on the meliora site www.meliora.ge.

Georgia’s Responsible Business Awards Meliora is sponsored by: Dugladze Wine company; Micro Business Capital; Sarajishvili and Holliday Inn. The Awards Ceremony is hosted and supported by The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi. The ‘Georgian Civil Society Sustainability Initiative’, launched in January 2017, is a consortium led by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in partnership with Georgian civil society organisations: Center for Strategic Research and Development (CSRDG), Civil Society Institute (CSI), Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC) and Education Development and Employment Center (EDEC), has been implementing the Georgian Civil Society Sustainability Initiative (CSSIGE) in order to address key challenges of Georgian civil society sector. The project is funded

by the European Union and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany. The Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia, which was established in 1995, has successful multiyear experience in the field of civil sector development in Tbilisi as well as in the regions of Georgia. CSRDG was the first Georgian organization that prepared and published: the sustainability report in accordance with GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) sustainability reporting guidelines; the first Georgian-language textbook on CSR for higher educational institutions; and comprehensive analytical research on “Corporate Social Responsibility and Public Sector’s Role” (analysis and recommendations for the Government of Georgia).


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 11 - 13, 2018

Image source: japantimes.co.jp

Tsipras Proposes Transport of Russian Gas through TAR Gas Pipeline BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

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reek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, announced that Russian natural gas can be pumped through the TRANS-Adriatic pipeline (TAP), which is designed to transport Azerbaijani "blue fuel" to Europe, as the technical conditions do allow for it. “We have advanced in the construction of the TAP pipeline, which will transport Azerbaijani gas to Europe. In my opinion, we have the necessary technical conditions for this gas pipeline to also accept Russian natural gas, as I am sure that it will benefit the European economy,” the Greek PM said. According to Putin, Russia is ready to consider the possibility of connecting companies from Greece to projects for the delivery of Russian gas to European countries on the southern route. “We are ready to consider the possibility of con-

necting Greek companies to major infrastructure projects for the delivery of Russian gas to Europe via the southern route,” the Russian leader said, noting they would also not exclude the possibility of connecting southern Europe to the Turkish stream gas pipeline through Greece. Putin said that Russia is ready to implement major infrastructure energy projects with Greece, claiming that energy is the most important area of interaction between the States. He also highlighted that Russia is already supplying energy resources to Greece, with gas needs covered by more than half, and oil by 10%. Greece, despite the obvious but so far unspoken Russian desire to extend the second branch of the Turkish stream gas pipeline through Bulgaria, continues to conduct a dialogue with the EU on the issue of extending this gas pipeline through Greek territory to other European countries. Construction of the TRANS-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) started in Albania in autumn 2016. The Albanian part of the pipeline is 215 km by land and 37 km by sea towards the Italian Adriatic coast.

Passenger Traffic up by 23% at Georgian Airports

Image source: United Airports of Georgia

BY THEA MORRISON

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n January-November 2018, Georgian airports served a total of 4,688,177 passengers, 21% more compared to the same period of 2017 (3,808,668 passengers). The information was released by the United Airports of Georgia. During eleven months of 2018, Tbilisi International Airport served 3,547,553 passengers. In November alone, Tbilisi Airport served 261,209 people, which is 12% more compared to November of last year (218,813 passengers). Batumi airport saw over 24,677passengers in November 2018, 33% more compared to the same period of 2017. The eight-month data reveals that

the airport served 580,370 passengers. Passenger traffic in Kutaisi International Airport increased by 47%. The airport served 560,254 people in eleven months while in November it saw 132% more passengers – 47,868 people. Last November it hosted 20,591 passengers. The increase of passenger traffic in Georgian airports during the last six months is as follows: January June – 31% January-July – 28% January-August - 25% January-September – 23% January-October – 23% January-November – 21% United Airports of Georgia also stated that 73% of passengers who took regular or charter flights in January-October of 2018 in Georgia’s three international airports were tourists.

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 11 - 13, 2018

Seedstars in Ukraine to Shape the Future of Tech Entrepreneurship

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he largest startup competition for emerging markets brings its CEE & Central Asia entrepreneurship forum to Ukraine this year, gathering the most prominent players in the fields of technology, entrepreneurship and impact investment under the same roof. Seedstars CEE Summit will have a special focus on civic tech this year. Over three days, key stakeholders from the region will work together to promote that specific vertical as a way to impact people’s lives and reach the Sustainable Development Goals proclaimed by the United Nations. Seedstars World [SSW] is hosting the annual Seedstars CEE Summit in Kiev for the second time. This year’s edition is organized in partnership with Luminate, from December 12 - 14. Representing Georgia is STYX, a tech-enabled logistic company that instantly connects shippers with carriers via mobile app. The Seedstars CEE Summit will kickoff with the Seedstars Growth Bootcamp, where the finalist startups from across the region will receive a mix of theoretical and practical content, with input provided by the Seedstars investment team on growth models and acquisition channels. There will also be an Investor Forum, aimed at bringing the top-tier investors from CEE & Central Asia together to discuss the investment climate in the region and at providing potential investment opportunities during one-on-one meetings with entrepreneurs. Community builders will have a place of their own this year: at the Game Changers Forum, they will address the main development issues for startup ecosystems based on their real-life experiences. Finally, the Civic Tech Workshop is designed to address up to three burning issues in that specific field, in a think tank interactive format. The Summit’s climax will be the Conference on the 14th of December, featuring the startup pitches and keynotes with top-notch entrepreneurs. Amongst the prominent names already confirmed to participate are Runno Allikivi, Head of Scandinavia at Funderbeam, Jeffrey Donenfeld, Investment Manager at Boomtown Accelerators, Eveline Buchatskiy, Managing Partner at One Way Ventures, Till Ohrmann, Co-Founder & CEO at Pirate Summit and Christoph Sollich, aka. The Pitch Doctor.

“In 2017, we managed to bring together more than 450 attendees, between entrepreneurs, corporates, investors, mentors, government authorities and startup enthusiasts. We organized around 350 meetings between startups, investors and mentors and we felt overwhelmed by the positive feedback we had from all participants. This year we aim to grow and offer a unique disruptive hands-on experience to over 500 attendees!,” says Agahuseyn Ahmadov, Regional Manager for CEE & Central Asia at Seedstars. For this edition, organizers are looking into going deeper on the role of civic tech role in the region’s ecosystems, the importance of investing in products and solutions that enhance citizen communication and promote public decision, and the impact it can have in terms of improving the government’s activities and efficiency. “We are excited to support Seedstars competitions back to Central and Eastern Europe,” explains Olena Boytsun, Investment Director for CEE Region at Luminate. “As an impact investor, we recognize that the quality of local teams, product and technology are more than competitive on the global market. What could make the teams stronger is the improvements on soft skills and business presentation, and so the system of local to regional competitions encourage the entrepreneurs to advance in such skills. The regional summit in Kyiv in December 2018 that would bring together so many impactful teams across 10 countries of the region will provide them the opportunity to learn further, to network and to experience real time investor negotiations.”

The event is also supported by venue partners Unit City and Chasopys, and Seedstars local ambassador team Radar Tech.

ABOUT SEEDSTARS Seedstars is a Swiss-based group with the mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship, with a particular focus on the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. Seedstars connects stakeholders, builds companies from scratch with public and private partners and invests in high-growth startups within these ecosystems. Seedstars aims at fostering impact investing and impact entrepreneurship over the world. Through different activities, that range

from startup scouting, events organization to company building and acceleration programs, Seedstars has built the world's biggest community of changemakers in emerging markets. Seedstars group includes the largest startup competition in emerging markets (Seedstars World Competition), the Entrepreneurship Forum for Emerging Markets (Seedstars Summit), physical entrepreneurs hubs (Seedspace), acceleration programs (Seedstars Growth), teaching & training programs (Seedstars Academy) and an investment entity with a startup lab and a fund (Seedstars Investments). Some of Seedstars main partners are Enel (Energy), School of Management Fribourg (HEG Fribourg) & TRECC - Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities (Education), BBVA (Finance), Tag Heuer (Fempreneurship, Time Saving and Innovation), Merck (Health) and Continental (Mobility).

ABOUT SEEDSTARS WORLD COMPETITION Seedstars World is the world's largest startup competition in emerging markets. It has been five years now that Seedstars Team takes off every year for a 9-month world tour and scouts for the best early-stage startups in 65+ countries, organizing 100+ events. One winner is selected to represent each country visited, and is invited to attend one of the 5 Regional Summits, reuniting all local winners of each region to network with regional investors, mentors and corpo-

rates. Local winners are also awarded the chance to represent their countries at the Seedstars Summit, the competition final happening in Switzerland, where startups compete for up to $1Mn in investment. The Seedstars Summit is the flagship event of Seedstars, filled with breakout sessions, panel discussions, specialized workshops and the best minds from emerging markets.

ABOUT LUMINATE Luminate is a global philanthropic organization focused on empowering people and institutions to work together to build just and fair societies. It was established in 2018 by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay. Luminate works with its investees and partners to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate in, and shape, the issues affecting their societies, and to make government, corporations, media, and those in positions of power more responsive and more accountable. Luminate does this by funding and supporting innovative and courageous organizations and entrepreneurs around the world, and by advocating for the policies and actions that will drive change across four impact areas: Civic Empowerment, Data & Digital Rights, Financial Transparency, and Independent Media. Luminate was previously the Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative at Omidyar Network and is now part of The Omidyar Group. To date it has supported 236 organizations in 18 countries with $314 million in funding.

Job Fair at Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace Opens up 250 Employment Opportunities

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heraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace held a Job Fair on December 9, in Tbilisi Sakrebulo. The Hotel management team welcomed all individuals interested in

making a step into the vibrant hospitality business. Visitors to the career forum had the chance to ask questions to qualified professionals about current vacancies, job requirements, the application process

and the diversity of career paths. Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace offers a wide range of employment opportunities and plans to recruit up to 250 professionals in various departments including front office, housekeeping, food and beverage, kitchen, dining outlets, engineering, security, reservations, procurement, and its SPA and fitness center. “We look forward to meeting lot of applicants who are excited to be a part of the Sheraton family,” said Andreas Heidingsfelder, General Manager of Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace, prior to the event. After being closed for renovation, Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace is set to reopen in spring 2019 with a brand-new design, well-appointed 220 rooms and suites with contemporary design, 2,000 sq m meeting and event facilities, exquisite dinning outlets and a range of enriching services in fitness & SPA.

Having just completed a full renovation, the iconic hotel has also received the brand’s esteemed ‘Grand’ designation, a recognition of its iconic location, distinguished design, excellence in service and guest experience, exemplary

dining concepts and exquisite SPA experience. Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace has also recently become part of Marriott International, one of the world`s leading hotel management companies.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 11 - 13, 2018

All Banks of Association of Banks Join Loan Annulment Initiative BY THEA MORRISON

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resident of the Association of Banks Aleksandre Dzneladze has stated that all banks of the Association joined the initiative of annulling loans, a recent government initiative which envisages writing-off the loans of 600,000 black-listed Georgians. Dzneladze said all 13 member banks of the Association signed the memorandum

Photo source: 1TV

with Cartu Foundation, a fund owned by ruling Georgian Dream (GD) founder and chair, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, which is ready to cover the total amount of such debts, reaching 1.6 billion GEL. “So far the process of making the list of black-listed customers is underway. The main banks have already identified the individuals and sent lists to Cartu. The debts will be purchased by the foundation on given dates,” he added. The commercial institutions had negotiations with Cartu and reached an agreement whereby Cartu will take respon-

sibility for the loans of black-listed people in banks whose loans do not exceed GEL 2000. Of the total 600,000 people, 150,000 are socially vulnerable. In addition, 12 financial organizations added they would write-off debts of the socially vulnerable people without asking for compensation from Cartu. A website will be created where the people will be able to check if their loans were written-off. The process of annulling people’s debts will take place from December 15 to December 31.

holders and partners in the exchange. On November 14, an IPO of Kazatomprom, a global leader in the uranium sector, became the first company to be listed on AIX. AIX targets both large and mediumsized businesses. “We are primarily expecting businesses from countries in Central Eurasia, including Georgia. Several infrastructure projects are actively developing in Georgia, including EastWest automotive highway and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway route, among others.

Infrastructure is one of the main development drivers in the region, and it’s quite natural for global investors to be interested in Georgia and its companies,” stated AIFC Governor Kairat Kelimbetov. With around 100 companies already registered as AIFC participants, including China Development Bank, several hundred more are expected to register by 2020. The Center should provide a platform for Georgian companies to develop with necessary financial support from international investors.

Kazakhstan’s Financial Center Offers Georgian Businesses Investment Opportunities BY AMY JONES

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n December 6, a conference ‘Astana International Financial Center: New Opportunities for Business Development and Growth’ brought together senior staff from the Astana Financial Center and business executives in Tbilisi. The newly created financial center aims to provide companies with a platform to attract investments. Supported by Tbilisinomics Policy Advisors, the conference was attended by representatives from the IMF, National Bank and Pension Fund of Georgia, as well as executives from over 50 Georgian companies representing various sectors. Attracting investments is a key priority for Georgian companies. Banks’ high

interest rates hinder raising funds through loans and credits. Businesses are therefore prepared to look elsewhere to attract external financing. Global investors are the obvious alternative to gain funding. Indeed, Georgia’s Statistics Service calculated that foreign direct investments increased from $1bn to 1.86bn from 2013-2017. The investors, primarily from Azerbaijan, Turkey, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, the US, United Arab Emirates and China, among others, financially supported various sectors in Georgia. In 2017, Georgian assets received $527,1 mln in transportation and communications, $303,3 mln in financial services, $294,6 mln in construction, and $222,9 mln in other sectors. Georgian companies may now access global investment resources through the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) which opened early 2018. Oper-

ating under the English common law of jurisdiction, the center offers a range of tax, visa, and operational incentives such as corporate tax exemption on income received from providing financial and ancillary services and capital gains for 50 years. Under the program, employees are also exempted from individual income tax. Through the AIFC, central Eurasian countries, including Georgia, can engage with global investors from China, the US, Europe, and the Middle East. Kazakhstan’s president Nazarbayev introduced constitutional amendments and the country’s parliament adopted several dozen legislative acts in order to create such a jurisdiction. A key way to raise capital at AIFC is through placing securities on the Center’s stock exchange, AIX. The Shanghai Stock Exchange, Silk Road Fund, NASDAQ and Goldman Sachs are participating share-


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 11 - 13, 2018

On Clubs, Financial Hubs & Vicious Circles Yet, although necessary, spectacular architecture and low ‘membership fees’ were not a sufficient condition for Astana’s financial hub to become a resounding success. Large companies, including Kazakhstan’s own, could be hesitant to list at Astana International Exchange in the absence of large international buyers – sovereign funds and investment banks. The latter, however, would be keen to participate in a market only once it offered attractive instruments – government bonds, as well as debt and equity issued by large companies. Hence, another Catch 22 situation.

BY ERIC LIVNY

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refuse to join any club that would have me as a member,- Groucho Marx famously said. Indeed, people may be reluctant to join new ‘clubs’ that are yet to establish their reputation – be they countries, industries or financial hubs. But, if so, how do you develop a newly independent country when your best professionals vie for jobs in the more prestigious clubs, such as the Silicon Valley or the City of London? Or, how do you start a new financial hub when major investors and companies trade elsewhere?

CHAPTER 3: BREAKING THE VICIOUS CIRCLES

CHAPTER I. HUMAN CLUBS When boarding the plane to Washington DC in the summer of 2006, Amina Turgulova knew she may not be returning to her native Kazakhstan. At least, not any time soon. Only 28, Amina was leaving behind a well-rooted family (her grandfather, Yerik Asanbayev, was vice president in Nursultan Nazarbayev’s first administration) and what many considered to be a dream job with the US embassy in Almaty. Yet, after almost 10 years with the embassy, she felt the urge to move on. Amina’s international ‘career’ started at a young age, as a Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) student in Lebanon, Oregon – a life-changing event. The year was 1995, and the US seemed like another planet; she recalls being shocked at the sight of a US-centered map of the world cutting Eurasia in two, but this was the mildest part of the cultural shock she suffered as a 17-year-old Kazakh girl in the US. Upon her return, she did not behave or dress up like any of her former classmates. The jeans and loose shirts Amina sported were at stark contrast with the white-blouse-and-dark-skirt convention of the time. “You’ve lost something of your Kazakh identity, Amina,” her mom observed. “But look how much I’ve gained,” was Amina’s response. Amina quickly landed her first lucrative gig – as an interpreter for the Indian Ambassador’s personal chef. The job came with serious perks: a personal car, 200$ per week, and plenty of delicacies to taste. Just around the corner was a 10-year career with the US Embassy’s human rights and democracy office.

World EXPO 2017 opening in Astana, Kazakhstan

“I loved what I was doing – what can be better than helping good people?”, Amina tells me when we meet at the Tbilisi Rooms Hotel, “but, having reached the top rank for a local embassy employee, I had nothing to aspire to”. As many mid-career professionals, Amina started exploring options to study abroad. Knowing exactly what she was doing, she applied to only three US schools and received two admission offers. One from Tuft’s and another – which she accepted – from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). As a SAIS graduate, Amina knew she would be sought after by Kazakh employers. And since her studies were financed by the Kazakh government’s Bolashak scholarship, she was even expected to work in Kazakhstan for at least five years upon graduation. Yet, Amina had her sights set on a much more lucrative club – the World Bank. Why promote democracy and human rights in Kazakhstan when you can do it on a global scale? While perhaps good for Amina, her decision not to come back was not great news for Kazakhstan, which counted on every Bolashak scholar to help take the country to the next level. There you have it, a classical chicken and egg story.

CHAPTER II: FINANCIAL HUBS Speaking at the closing ceremony of EXPO 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan’s President Nazarbayev unveiled new plans for the exhibition’s magnificent infrastructure – to serve as a financial hub for the vast Eurasian continent. The Astana International Finance Centre (AIFC) was set to compete with the likes of Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) and Shanghai’s Lujiazui district. But how could a new financial hub attract large buyers and sellers from more established trading platforms? First, it was necessary to set AIFC ‘membership fees’ at a very low level. In other words, do everything its competitors did, but cheaper. This included establishing AIFC as an independent jurisdiction governed by the English common law, with its own court (chaired by an ex-Chief Justice of Wales and England) and arbitration system; adopting NASDAQ’s trading technology; reducing listing costs to the minimum, well below the internal norm of about 4%; exempting resident companies from practically all taxes (corporate income tax, income tax for foreigners employed by AIFC participants, property tax, land tax, tax on capital gains, dividends or interest); and, finally, granting residents a 2-year exemption from rent.

Amina Turgulova did not even try to realize her World Bank dream. Instead, she decided to go home and “do something real” for her country. Two people, she tells me, influenced her decision. The first is Francis Fukuyama, Amina’s professor and educational advisor at SAIS, who encouraged her to think that democracy and human rights are best promoted through distribution of wealth and property rights rather than handouts and grants. The second influencer is Kairat Kelimbetov, whose passionate TV interview she happened to watch in 2006, while still a student at SAIS. Mr. Kelimbetov, Kazakhstan’s preeminent economist and then head of Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna, talked about the urgent need for young Kazakh talent to come back and help modernize the economy. Moved by this, Amina responded to the challenge. Amina tried to get a job with the Kazyna Foundation, but her resume was apparently lost in the pile. She went on to work as the head of international relations for the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KASE) in Almaty, learning on the job while helping integrate KASE into the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE). The highlight of Amina’s tenure with KASE was a 6-month EBRD-financed project giving her a unique chance to work with professionals from an Austrian boutique firm who literally settled in her office. The project produced a set of 19 recommendations – approved by KASE’s board – on how to increase KASE attractiveness for international investors and increase its liquidity. In early 2016, after almost 8 years with KASE, Amina had finally received a phone call from Kairat Kelimbetov who

was then tasked with the job of establishing a new financial hub in Astana. I’ve never told Governor Kelimbetov about his role in my decision to come back”, Amina tells me. “You may have done so just now”, I smile in response. Amina joined AIFC in March 2016 as Deputy CEO of Astana International Exchange (AIX) and Head of AIX Project Management Office. Moving from Almaty to Astana was no fun; neither did she enjoy the pay cut it involved. Yet, she was enormously motivated to work with Kelimbetov and close yet another important loop in her life. In the short time since joining, Amina set up a new stock exchange – AIX – which launched its first Eurobonds and IPOs in November 2018. “I managed to bring Shanghai Stock Exchange and Nasdaq as the main strategic partners,” she tells me, “and I am very happy to have successfully accomplished whatever tasks I was trusted with by governor Kelimbetov.” Amina is convinced that AIFC will be a great success. Yes, she agrees that it is not yet liquid enough to outcompete some of the larger exchanges. The prices Kazakh companies can fetch in Astana today may be lower than what they would get in London or Shanghai. But, the Kazakh government should look beyond the narrow interests of specific stateowned companies. Only in this way will it be able to break the vicious circle of overdependence on banking capital. By creating an alternative to banks, AIFC will serve the needs of many more companies from the entire region that are not large enough for the established exchanges. It may take time, the market’s liquidity will eventually increase, leading to higher prices and improving the conditions for future privatizations and IPOs. This, in turn, will lead to additional job creation, helping Kazakhstan prevail in the global competition for talent. * * * Supported by a generous scholarship granted by a group of international philanthropists, Amina’s 18-year-old daughter Adel is currently a student in United World College of South East Asia in Singapore. Amina’s challenge as a mother and senior business executive is to make her country a ‘club’ attractive enough for bright Kazakh kids of her daughter’s generation not to be caught up in the vicious circle of brain drain and emigration.

NBG Loan Regulations Have Decreased the Consumer Loan Portfolio BY SAMANTHA GUTHRIE

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he President of the Association of Banks of Georgia, Alexander Dzneladze, said in an interview with BM.ge over the weekend that the consumer lending portfolio in the banking sector has stopped growing, and even started to decline in some sectors. According to Dzneladze, the financial market has been seeing significant changes since May. On May 7, 2018, the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) instituted new regulations which set limits on banks issuing loans without proof of assets and revenue. Without an analysis of customer solvency, consumer loans now must be 25% of less of a bank’s supervisory capital and loans guaranteed by real estate assets must be less than 15%. Also, loan to value ratio must stay below 50%. Additional respon-

sible lending regulations are set to kick in from 2019, and Dzneladze anticipates a further drop in the loan market. The regulations are designed to protect consumers and encourage healthy credit portfolios at Georgia’s commercial banks. Many aspects of the reality of the individual lending market today are significantly different from the vision the National Bank had initially laid out when developing the regulatory framework, Dzneladze claims. "The NBG took a big step with the changes for the banking sector from January 1, 2019. The regulations are quite different from the first version,” noted Dzneladze. The Association of Banks of Georgia, led by Dzneladze, is made up of 16 members. Members are commercial banks registered in Georgia, including the major players Bank of Georgia and TBC Bank. The Association conducts trainings for their members, market research, a variety of pro-

jects, and disburses grants. Dzneladze explained that some changes are currently being discussed, including the issue of confirming a loan applicant’s revenue. In Georgia, which has such a large informal economy, a large propor-

tion of the population does not report their full income to the Revenue Service. "For example, when the declared income of a citizen is less than 400 GEL per month, it is often the case when people have additional revenues, though there

is no official record of these revenues. For example, private teachers, taxi drivers, self-employed people, farmers, or those living on remittances. It’s a particularly big problem in agriculture. Now we are being consulted to make the best of all these regulations in order to avoid additional problems,” said Dzneladze. In the last several years, household debt in Georgia has been growing rapidly. Many people have overdue loans and the volume of responsible crediting is low. When the regulations were developed, the Minister of Finance was current Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze. In his role as minister, Bakhtadze supported the NBG regulations and expressed concern that excessive debt is a serious problem for the country. He also emphasized the necessity of regulating not only Georgia’s major commercial banks, but also the ubiquitous quick, online loan services.


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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

DECEMBER 11 - 13, 2018

Tax-Free Insider: Georgian Int’l Holding, the Kutaisi Free Zone ADVERTORIAL

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eorgian International Holding (GIH), established in March 2009, is a successful example of cooperation between Georgian and Egyptian investors. GIH organizes and manages Kutaisi Free Zone - one of the first free industrial zones of the country. Kutaisi free zone occupies 27 hectares of land from which 128 thousand square meters are administrative, industrial and warehouse buildings. The main goal is attracting foreign direct investments and creating new jobs, and in this respect GIH tries to offer tailored solutions to meet the customers’ requirements on a global scale as much as possible. Investors are provided with a unique opportunity to take advantage of not only the competitive infrastructure and rental conditions of the Kutaisi Free Zone, but also from different state projects that support equity financing The holding is focused on attracting international tenant companies to carry out their exportoriented business activities in the tax-free zone. It welcomes companies operating in different areas of business: technology, trade and services, light industry, home appliance production, logistics, warehousing, etc. For the convenience of its customers, the holding is actively working on opening representative offices in different countries. Recently, an international office in Kiev, Ukraine, has been opened, which facilitates the process of informing and registering customers locally. The operational office of the free zone is located on the territory of the Autobuilding plant in Kutaisi. The company's management team is based in its head office in Tbilisi, 3, Kavsadze str.


POLITICS

GEORGIA TODAY DECEMBER 11 - 13, 2018

Post-Factum Political Fluids OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

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he recent hard-to-watchand-listen-to presidential electioneering has plunged into the depths of annals to eventually sink into oblivion. Or has it? Georgia has acquired a new head of state, but it has also maintained the old political pattern, saliently protuberating from the main body of the nation as two persistent contradictory growths, one clearly constructive and the other blatantly deconstructive, as unfading ideological permanencies at the sharpest ever daggers drawn, lingering on interminably. The new she-president of the country will soon entrench herself in her new offices within a gorgeously aged mansion in the heart of downtown Tbilisi. The President-Elect has utterly defied entrance into the now functioning presidential chambers, her inaugural event being threatened with the oppositional non-acceptance of her electoral supremacy by the lame-ducked other party. Normally, a new president should symbolize the new beginning of life, new ideas, new projects and a new perspective, but the lady of the highest office of the nation will first have to face the old adversary with already antiquated slogans and rallying cries. The opposition has harshly rebuffed the concession opportunity and is threatening to continue fighting for a cause that has already been registered as their defeat and as another political victory of the present ruling force. The force

hostile to this government has declared the outcome of the presidential elections in Georgia null and void, and is now insisting on pre-term parliamentary elections. The shattered opposition, seemingly still united, keeps presenting itself to the people of Georgia in its habitual belligerent style, focused on political revenge and takeover of power at any possible cost. From somewhere, the utterly radicalized appeals of the wriggling opposition are heard to resort to civil disobedience without delay and bring down the government: upheaval is the aim and cataclysm is the way out! Thank God, the nation has decisively rejected the reckless call. The beaten-to-death and visibly overwhelmed seekers of power are still trying to make their voices heard, loudly blaring into their rusting microphones. The street political life continues to persist in the land. The sides do not want to desist from recriminating each other with exactly the same gusto and lexis that was used during the overstrained electoral campaign. The taxpayers, who have to be busy in the process of production, carry on standing in front of the government house, a building which has seen more rallies and manifestations in the last 30 years than any other edifice in the world. On the other side of the political riverbank, post-electoral delight has beset the leaders of the show, but it would be fair to say that nothing euphoric is outwardly demonstrated on their part, and the comments on the cherished victory are made reservedly and self-confidently enough, which definitely helps

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to maintain calm in the country. The New Year expectation sees the streets of the capital already glittering with decorations – time to celebrate! But every sparkle of light or any sign of a good life is killing the joy of the opposition, who wants it all bad and ruined. The ruling powers want to pull the country out of the sticky electoral aftermath but the opposition is eager to hold the nation in the same hellish election-time quandary. The game does not look to be over and it is full of foul play; the main referee, the people of Georgia, is now so exhausted that it would, if it could, disconnect the raging information sources so that no political judgments and estimations are heard for a long time to come. What people actually long for is something that looks like regular human

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every state in the world, its implementation still presents a challenge to many countries.”

HUMAN RIGHTS WEEK 2018 The Delegation of the European Union, the United Nations and the Public Defender of Georgia are running a joint communication campaign to raise awareness of human rights in Georgia. A launch event was held outside Rustaveli Metro station in Tbilisi. The campaign, under the slogan “I raise my voice for human rights,” calls for respect and protection of human rights and includes a number of activities taking place throughout the week. The launch event included the opening of an open-air photo exhibition curated by Kolga Tbilisi Photo. It show-

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GEORGIA TODAY

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Azerbaijan, Serbia on the Priorities of Cooperation in Trade, Investment & Tourism BY DIMITRI DOLABERIDZE

happiness, expressed in elementary things like good food and drink, good clothes and abode, good health, good education and a good chance to travel . . . just to feel as human as possible. Seemingly, every political effort should be dedicated to providing those elementary staples of everyday life, but the impression is that in our reality, saturated with numerous predicaments, politics is done only for the sake of politics, having turned into a dreamy night’s sleep which in the morning might present a wistful politician a prospect of further success. Meanwhile, the people, valued by them only as voters, will continue toiling as they always toiled before, to somehow snatch a chance of survival from the cruel post-electoral veracity of life: a chance as trivial as it was before the election age.

EU, UN & Public Defender of Georgia Launch Human Rights Week 2018 he European Union, the United Nations and the Public Defender of Georgia launched a joint communication campaign dedicated to Human Rights Day 2018. Communication activities marking 70 years of the Universal Declaration to Human Rights will include a number of events as well as a social media and TV campaign. “Today the whole world celebrates Human Rights Day, the main message of which is joining efforts to fight for equality, justice and human dignity,” said Nino Lomjaria, Public Defender of Georgia. “70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we still talk about the achievements and challenges in the field of protection of human rights and freedoms in Georgia. The core principles of the Public Defender's activities are based on the spirit of the Declaration, which is of particular importance for achieving high standards of human rights in the country.” "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a living document, universal in scope and fiercely relevant to every individual,” said Munkhtuya Altangerel, Acting Head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Georgia. “Fundamental rights stated in the Declaration are as important now as they were 70 years ago. Although the Declaration has been accepted by nearly

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cases seven projects funded and supported by the EU that focus on human rights issues in Georgia. The seven featured projects underline fundamental values of the EU such as human dignity, equality and justice. The exhibition will be shown for a week outside Rustaveli Metro station in Tbilisi. Furthermore, the EU-funded project "Human Rights for All” implemented by the UNDP presented the newly published online platform "StandUp4HumanRights.ge", which is built around the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Users can discover the Declaration in a visual and user-friendly way and gain a better understanding of human rights in the Georgian context.

Journalists: Tony Hanmer, Zaza Jgarkava, Maka Bibilashvili, Dimitri Dolaberidze, Maka Lomadze, Joseph Larsen, Vazha Tavberidze, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Nino Gugunishvili, Thea Morrison Photographer: Irakli Dolidze

The week before Human Rights Day, Tbilisi International Film Festival featured seven films depicting current human rights issues. The Delegation of the European Union awarded the film ‘Girl,’ directed by Lukas Dhont the ‘EU Human Rights in Film Award.’ The film ‘The silent revolution’ directed by Lars Kraume was presented to young filmmakers followed by a comprehensive discussion on the subject. Throughout Human Rights Week the EU, UN and the PDO will run a focused communication campaign on TV and social media highlighting human rights in Georgia. Citizens are encouraged to participate in the campaign by tagging themselves with the hashtags #standup4humanrights and #ადამიანისუფლებებიჩვენია. More events will take place throughout Human Rights Week. Human Rights Day, December 10, is observed worldwide every year to commemorate the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year it marks the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2018 the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, the United Nations and the Public Defender's Office are marking Human Rights Day with the slogan "I raise my voice for human rights," built upon the stand-up call to action #standup4humanrights.

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he trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Serbia this year increased by 33%, the Ministry of Economy of Azerbaijan announced Saturday at the fifth meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation between Azerbaijan and Serbia. Prior to the meeting of the commission, with the participation of delegations led by co-chairs of the commission - Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan Shahin Mustafayev and Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljaic - a round table with the participation of Serbian companies took place. During the event, information was provided on the favorable environment for business and investment in Azerbaijan, and the development of ties between the business circles of Azerbaijan and Serbia and the expansion of bilateral cooperation in business were discussed. Minister Mustafayev stressed the importance of the visit of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev to Serbia in 2011 and the President of Serbia Alexander Vucic in 2018 to Azerbaijan in the development of bilateral cooperation. The Declaration on Friendship and Strategic Partnership between Azerbaijan and Serbia signed in 2013 and the signing in May 2018 of the Joint Action Plan on Strategic Cooperation between Azerbaijan and Serbia are the main documents defining the nature of bilateral cooperation. During the last visit of the President of Serbia to Azerbaijan, a number of important documents were signed in the fields of medicine and medical education, plant protection, international freight and air communications, and an AzerbaijaniSerbian business meeting. It was noted that trade relations are also one of the main areas of cooperation between the two countries. The trade turnover between the countries in 2017 increased by 36%, for the nine months of 2018 - by 33%. Azerbaijan and Serbia are also making mutual investments. Azerbaijani company Azvirt participates in infrastructure projects in Serbia, also developing cooperation in the field of tourism. In 2017, the number of Serbian citizens visiting Azerbaijan increased by 14%. Citizens of Azerbaijan can visit Serbia without a visa, and citizens of Serbia during their visit to Azerbaijan can use the opportunities of the electronic ASAN visa system. Cooperation in the humanitarian sphere sees the newly-opened Center for the Azerbaijani Language and Culture at the University of Belgrade, and the Center for the Serbian Language and Culture at the Azerbaijan University of Languages. Deputy PM Ljaic stressed that Serbia attaches great importance to relations with Azerbaijan, noting the expansion of trade and economic cooperation and the possibility of interaction in the fields of energy, agriculture, infrastructure, ICT, tourism and others. Following the fifth meeting of the Commission, a protocol was signed by Shahin Mustafayev and Rasim Lyaich, providing for the continuation and expansion of cooperation in trade and economic, investment, financial, industrial, energy, transport, infrastructure, agriculture, small and medium enterprises, ICT, education, health, ecology, tourism, culture, youth, sports and more.

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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1108 Business  

December 11 - 13, 2018

Issue #1108 Business  

December 11 - 13, 2018

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