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Page 1

Issue no: 1236/223

• MARCH 17 - 19, 2020 • PUBLISHED TWICE WEEKLY

PRICE: GEL 2.50

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

UN Sec-Gen on COVID-19: We Will Get Through This Together NEWS PAGE 3

FOCUS ON MONOGRAPH FREEDOM SQUARE

The best of design and elegance

PAGE 6

Georgian Gov't Sets New Restrictions amid Coronavirus Outbreak

T

ISET PAGE 4

Gov't Presents Anti-crisis Plan to Reduce Coronavirus Impact on Economy BUSINESS PAGE 5

TBC Bank & Georgian Art Palace Give New Life to the Ancient Georgian Textile BUSINESS PAGE 10

BY ANA DUMBADZE

he Interagency Coordination Council led by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia, has set new restrictions and issued additional recommendations in order to reduce the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in the country. At Monday's sitting, the Council announced that from

Agriculture in Georgia: Are There Any Real Changes in the Sector?

March 18, in order to prevent the risks related to the coronavirus outbreak, foreign citizens are to be banned from entering Georgia. The Prime Minister's spokesperson Irakli Chikovani explained that Georgian citizens will be able to return to the country. “For the next two weeks, foreign citizens, other than diplomats and other special exceptions, will not be allowed to enter Georgia. Georgian citizens and their family members who wish to return to Georgia may use the air service operated by Georgian Airlines, ” he said. In addition, although the season isn't over yet, Georgia's ski resorts will be temporarily shut and will no longer serve holidaymakers. Cafes, restaurants and bars are recommended to temporarily restrict direct service to citizens and operate only delivery services. "Today, we have to unequivocally discuss and decide on closing cafés, restaurants, and bars. Otherwise, it will be difficult for us to manage the situation. The Ministry of Finance should work to mitigate this effect," PM Gakharia said at the Council sitting. The Government Administration is to set up a monitoring mechanism for the implementation of decisions taken at the meeting of the Council. The Interagency Coordination Council advises citizens over 70 years to avoid going to public places. "With the involvement of medical staff, it has been decided to recommend that Georgian citizens over 70 years of age should refrain from going to public places and try to isolate themselves as much as possible to avoid any threat to their health," Chikovani said.

Russia, Italy, Greece: Georgia's Largest Remittance Senders in February 2020 BUSINESS PAGE 11 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by

Markets Asof13ͲMarͲ2020

STOCKS

Price

w/w

m/m

BONDS

Price

w/w

m/m

BankofGeorgia(BGEOLN)

GBP12.30

Ͳ21,5%

Ͳ32,3%

GEOROG04/21

101.68(YTM5.17%)

Ͳ2,3%

Ͳ3,0%

GeorgiaCapital(CGEOLN)

GBP5.63

Ͳ20,6%

Ͳ31,3%

GEORG04/21

103.48(YTM3.52%)

Ͳ1,3%

Ͳ1,9%

GBP0.86

Ͳ22,3%

Ͳ32,8%

GRAIL07/22

107.01(YTM4.53%)

Ͳ2,9%

Ͳ2,8%

GBP11.06

Ͳ10,7%

Ͳ17,2%

GEBGG07/23

106.48(YTM3.92%)

+0,4%

+0,0%

CURRENCIES

GHG(GHGLN) TBCBankGroup(TBCGLN)

COMMODITIES

Price

w/w

m/m

CrudeOil,Brent(US$/bbl)

33,85

Ͳ25,2%

Ͳ39,9%

GEL/USD

Price

w/w

m/m

3,0352

+9,2%

+5,6% +8,1%

1529,83

Ͳ8,6%

Ͳ2,9%

3,3703

+7,7%

GEL/GBP

3,7293

+2,9%

Ͳ0,6%

INDICES

Price

w/w

m/m

GEL/CHF

3,1850

+7,7%

+8,4%

FTSE100

5366,11

Ͳ17,0%

Ͳ28,0%

GEL/RUB

0,0420

+3,7%

Ͳ6,9%

FTSE250

15562,00

Ͳ17,0%

Ͳ28,2%

GEL/TRY

0,4800

+5,5%

+0,9%

9232,08

Ͳ20,0%

Ͳ32,8%

GEL/AZN

1,7882

+9,3%

+5,8%

+8,6%

+5,0%

GoldSpot(US$/OZ)

DAX DOWJONES

23185,62

Ͳ10,4%

Ͳ21,2%

GEL/EUR

GEL/AMD

0,0063

7874,88

Ͳ8,2%

Ͳ18,9%

GEL/UAH

0,1160

+4,5%

MSCIEMEE

121,05

Ͳ22,4%

Ͳ35,3%

EUR/USD

0,9004

+1,6%

Ͳ2,4%

MSCIEM

891,19

Ͳ11,9%

Ͳ19,4%

GBP/USD

0,8146

+6,3%

+6,2%

NASDAQ

Ͳ1,4%

2711,02

Ͳ8,8%

Ͳ19,6%

CHF/USD

0,9517

+1,4%

Ͳ2,8%

MSCIFM

2046,22

Ͳ16,5%

Ͳ23,6%

RUB/USD

72,6275

+5,9%

+14,1%

GTIndex(GEL)

1582,68

Ͳ

Ͳ

TRY/USD

6,3331

+4,0%

+4,9%

GTIndex(USD)

1208,13

Ͳ

Ͳ

AZN/USD

1,6935

Ͳ0,3%

Ͳ0,3%

SP500


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NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY

MARCH 17 - 19, 2020

@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: More and more companies are joining the fight against the spread of coronavirus. Rento, a transport service business founded by Nikoloz Siradze and Erekle Mepisashvili, took it upon itself to take travelers who had flown in from Italy to the Georgian quarantine zone. Despite the risks, Rento stepped up to help the State and the population of Georgia, all working in an emergency regime.

NBG to Put Cash into 14-day Quarantine BY ANA DUMBADZE

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CARU is a platform that frees you from the problems associated with fixing your car. “I bring it in, I fix it, I take it back” is CARU’s slogan. It connects users to auto assistants who ensure affordable and fast car repairs, controling the quality of the auto assistants and also conducting studies so as to rate those assistants. It was founded by Nika Abashidze in 2018 to serve the industry as much as the needs of drivers.

he National Bank of Georgia (NBG) calls on the population to follow hygiene norms when using cash. The Bank representatives have decided that money collected from circulation will be kept separately and will not be put back into circulation before the expiration of the 14-day quarantine period. The NBG recommends washing hands after touching banknotes and coins since the money may have bacteria and so transfer the virus. After contact with money, consumers are advised not to touch their faces, eyes, nose, and mouth. "Since any item, including money, can be contaminated with bacteria or viruses,

the National Bank of Georgia urges citizens to follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the National Center for Disease Control of Georgia when using cash," NBG said in its statement.

The National Bank also urges citizens to use online banking services, mobile payments and automated cash machines. In addition, the Bank reports that from March 13, disinfection works will regularly be carried out at the cash center.

Gov't Working to Prevent Food Deficit & Speculative Rise in Prices

Lawbot is the first Georgian bot lawyer keeping Georgia in line with the growing demand for online services in every field. Created by CC Legal & Advisory, it recently won a grant of GEL 100,000. “Lawbot aims to become the leader in the sphere and create new approaches to legal service not only on the scale of one or two companies, but globally. The role of AI is increasing in the world of law,” says Ucha Dzimistarishvili, CCLA partner. The product has sparked the interest of many abroad. “We have convinced them we can create and implement modern legal services through technology.”

BY ANA DUMBADZE

T

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

he Government of Georgia is working to prevent a food deficit and speculative rise in prices so that the population is not harmed due to the new coronavirus impact on the local economy. Levan Davitashvili, Georgia's Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture, announced that following the Prime

Minister’s instructions, a working group on food supplies and price regulation has been set up, led by Vice Prime Minister Maia Tskitishvili. The meeting of the working group was attended by representatives of large food nets, importers and distributors. The participants of the meeting noted that despite the restrictions imposed by the threat of the spread of coronavirus in the country, there is no danger of a food deficit. The meeting was attended by the Business Ombudsman, a representative of

the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and representatives of relevant agencies of the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture.

Coronavirus Updates: Georgia & the World BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

G

eorgia has a total of 33 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Monday, but also some good news: the first Georgian patient to have caught the coronavirus infection has now fully recovered. 637 people are currently quarantined and 54 remain under supervision in hospital awaiting test results. "The first Georgian patient infected with the new coronavirus has shown full recovery from the illness," Marina Ezugbaia, Medial Director of the Tbilisi Infections Hospital, told reporters, adding that he had retested negative for COVID-19. The second infected patient, who this weekend tested negative after treatment, is set to have a retest Monday. "We hope that the answer will be negative and we will have another recovered patient," Ezugbaia said. The global statistics are more concerning, as countries around the world continue to report new cases of infections and deaths, and to announce state emergencies. The latest reports claim the world has a total of 171,112 COVID-19 cases, 6,526 deaths, and 77,779 patients who have fully recovered from the virus. The Worldometers online platform states that there have been 84,305 closed coronavirus cases, 8% of which have resulted in death. This mortality statistic stood at 6% for months; last week it increased to 7, and now it has increased by 1% again. This probably comes as Italy on Monday reported 368 new deaths overnight from the virus. The country now has 24,747 coronavirus cases. WHO’s declaration that Europe is now the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic rang loudly around the world. The United States and countries across Europe are closing schools, even entertainment venues, keeping nothing open but essential services, in a stepped-up

effort to combat the fast spread of the pandemic, where more cases have now been reported outside China, the supposed origin-country of the COVID-19 virus, than inside its borders. South Korea and China, both wary of imported infections, have tightened requirements for international arrivals, as the epicenter of the pandemic shifted to the West. Governments of many countries are limiting travel, both inward and outward, in an effort to curb the movement of people, and with them, the transfer of the virus. Schools in New York are shut and classes moved online, while entertainment venues have been ordered to close from Tuesday, with President Trump’s declaration of a “national emergency” on Saturday. Another major source of the outbreak, Iran, on Monday announced that more than 100 people had died in the past 24 hours, while confirmed cases had risen to nearly 14,000 in the country. Tehran said its fight against the outbreak was being severely hampered by US sanctions. Shops in Europe and the US are suffering shortages as people rush to stock up in fear of their countries announcing a lockdown in the face of the pandemic. Georgia’s fight against coronavirus has been praised by the World Health Organization (WHO). On Saturday, it was reported that a telephone conversation held between the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom, and President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili, saw the WHO head praising Georgia’s response to the pandemic. Yet, regardless of the government’s efforts, the number of infected in Georgia has risen from the 24 in our last update on March 13 to 33 on Monday. Amiran Gamkrelidze, Head of the Georgian National Disease Control Center, said that the country should be ready for an increase in coronavirus cases. His

comment was an evident prediction, as it was revealed shortly after that two foreign tourists who had recently visited Georgia’s mountains had tested positive for the coronavirus when they returned home, despite having had no symptoms while in Georgia. One, a Czech citizen, was confirmed with COVID-19 after traveling to Gudauri together with a 6-member tourist group on March 4-9. The other infected person is a Slovak citizen, a member of the same tourist group. Both were diagnosed with the infection after returning to their home countries. The administration of Gudauri’s restaurant ‘Drunk Cherry’ announced it had closed its doors, as the venue was visited regularly by the two foreigners. "We are all in self-isolation, the restaurant is closed; two employees have a high fever. Anyone who visited ‘Drunk Cherry’ these days should consult a medical facility,” reads the official statement from the restaurant’s administration. When this news broke, it was announced that the mountain resorts of Georgia would be closed to tourists. Following the steps taken by other states, Georgia has also imposed traffic limitations at its borders. On March 13, Georgia imposed traffic restrictions with neighboring countries Armenia and Azerbaijan, with borders to be closed for 10 days from March 14. Reportedly, PM Gakharia held phone conversations with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts. All sides agreed on limiting travel in order to limit the impact of coronavirus. The traffic of goods will continue during this time. When this was announced on Friday, Georgia had already imposed traffic restrictions with Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Austria, with Switzerland, Norway and Denmark being added the following day. On Monday morning, it was announced that travel between Russia and Georgia, too, would be restricted. The Prime

Image source: LA Times

Minister's Special Representative for Relations with the Russian Federation Zurab Abashidze held a telephone conversation with Gregory Karasin, Head of the Delegation of the Russian Federation in the bilateral dialogue (the “Prague format”) about the restrictions. By Monday afternoon, the Government of the country had decided that Georgia was closing all its borders temporarily, banning all foreign citizens from entering the Georgian territories for two weeks from March 18. When PM Gakharia’s spokesperson Irakli Chikovani announced the news, he noted that Georgian citizens abroad would be able to return home. “For the next two weeks, foreign citizens will not be allowed to enter Georgia. Georgian citizens and their family members who wish to return to Georgia may use the air service operated by Georgian Airlines,” he said. The news came as Wizz-Air announced the cancellation of all flights from Kutaisi International Airport, except those with Budapest, from March 18 to April 3, offering 120% Wizz-Air credit refunds to people who had bought tickets for Europe flights for this period. Closing the borders is not the only measure Georgia’s government is taking

in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic: at time of going to press, the State is thinking about closing cafes, restaurants and bars, too, reducing their operability to delivery only. “Today, we must unequivocally discuss and decide about the closure of cafés, restaurants, and bars. Otherwise, it will be difficult for us to manage the situation. The Ministry of Finance should work to mitigate this effect,” the Prime Minister told the Interagency Council. Levan Davitashvili, Georgia's Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture, announced that the country’s economy is going to get the helping hand it needs to survive the pandemic. On the PM’s instruction, a working group on food supplies and price regulation has been set up, led by Vice Prime Minister Maia Tskitishvili. This is much-needed to shield Georgia’s citizens from the impact of coronavirus, and the fear the pandemic is having on the country’s economy. From Monday, colleges and schools of Georgia, which closed on March 2, switched to an online teaching regime in an effort to keep education going, as many Georgians are self-isolating at home or heading out to their family village houses in fear of the virus.


NEWS

GEORGIA TODAY MARCH 17 - 19, 2020

3

UN Sec-Gen on COVID-19: We Will Get Through This Together BY ANTĂ“NIO GUTERRES, SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

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he upheaval caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19, is all around us. And I know many are anxious, worried and confused. That’s absolutely natural. We are facing a health threat unlike any other in our lifetimes. Meanwhile, the virus is spreading, the danger is growing, and our health systems, economies and day-to-day lives are being severely tested. The most vulnerable are the most affected, particularly our elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions, those without access to reliable healthcare, and those in poverty or living on the edge. The social and economic fallout from the combination of the pandemic and slowing economies will affect most of us for some months. But the spread of the virus will peak. Our economies will recover. Until then, we must act together to slow the spread of the virus and look after each other. This is a time for prudence, not panic. Science, not stigma. Facts, not fear. Even though the situation has been classified as a pandemic, it is one we can control. We can slow down transmissions, prevent infections and save lives. But that will take unprecedented personal, national and international action.

COVID-19 is our common enemy. We must declare war on this virus. That means countries have a responsibility to gear up, step up and scale up. How? By implementing effective containment strategies; by activating and enhancing emergency response systems; by dramatically increasing testing capacity and care for patients; by readying hospitals, ensuring they have the space, supplies and needed personnel; and by developing lifesaving medical interventions. All of us have a responsibility, too: to follow medical advice and take the simple, practical steps recommended by health authorities. In addition to being a public health crisis, the virus is infecting the global economy. Financial markets have been hard hit by the uncertainty. Global supply chains have been disrupted. Investment and consumer demand have plunged, with a real and rising risk of a global recession. United Nations economists estimate that the virus could cost the global economy at least $1 trillion this year, and perhaps far more. No country can do it alone. More than ever, governments must cooperate to revitalize economies, expand public investment, boost trade, and ensure targeted support for the people and communities most affected by the disease, or more vulnerable to the negative economic impacts, including women who often shoulder a disproportionate burden of care work. A pandemic drives home the essential interconnectedness of our human fam-

Image source: unmissions.org

ily. Preventing the further spread of COVID-19 is a shared responsibility for us all. The United Nations, including the

In the very heart of the city

Address: 17 Wine Ascent Tbilisi, Georgia Tel: (+995) 322 22 11 16 www.facebook.com/BricksTbilisi/

World Health Organization, is fully mobilized. As part of our human family, we are working 24/7 with governments, provid-

ing international guidance, helping the world take on this threat. We are in this together, and we will get through this, together.


4

BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

MARCH 17 - 19, 2020

THE ISET ECONOMIST A BLOG ABOUT ECONOMICS AND THE SOUTH CAUCAUS

www.iset-pi.ge/blog

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.

Agriculture in Georgia: Are There Any Real Changes in the Sector? apparently a slight increase on the supply side could not offset other negative impacts. The higher demand for food, due to the development of tourism and more importantly depreciation of the lari, has offset increased domestic production and resulted in greater food imports at higher prices. Given the significant spending on food (43% of household total spending in 2018), food price inflation puts enormous pressure on the Georgian population, which still heavily depends on social transfers from the state, particularly in rural areas, where poverty affects 23.1% of the population (Geostat, 2020).

EMPLOYMENT Employment in agriculture is particularly high in Georgian rural areas. The rural

self-employed constituted 34% of the total labor force in 2019 (Geostat, 2020). Thus, more than one third of the total labor force in Georgia is likely to be employed in agriculture. Employment shares in agriculture show a downward trend, however the change in the percentage of shares is very limited, from a maximum of 37% in 2011 to a minimum of 33% in 2018. While public spending in agriculture has had some positive impact on agricultural GDP, the remaining indicators show the need for more reforms and structural changes in the sector. Public spending cannot replace investment, and so far, it has not increased domestic production to the extent where Georgia is no longer dependent on food imports and vulnerable to food price shocks.

Figure 1. Public spending and GDP in agriculture

Famous Georgian Guda cheese. Photo: ENPARD Georgia

BY SALOME GELASHVILI

A

fter years of negligence, from 2012 onwards, Georgian agriculture returned to the spotlight. State funding for the sector grew from 85 mln GEL in 2011 to more than 200 mln GEL in the consecutive years, and up to 293 mln GEL in 2020. The state launched more than ten agricultural support programs and established a separate agency, the Agricultural Projects Management Agency (APMA), in 2013 for their management. Those engaged in agriculture obviously welcome the increased state support to the sector; however, many now question the results. The various outcomes of state spending in agriculture have since become a hotly debated topic, especially in 2020 – an election year.

HOW MUCH DID THE STATE SPEND ON AGRICULTURE AND WHAT WERE THE RESULTS? In order to tackle this question, it will be helpful to look at certain macroeconomic indicators, like production, investments, prices, and employment in agriculture.

PRODUCTION In spite of increased public spending in agriculture, there is no real growth in the sector. The statistics show that the average annual public spending on agri-

culture between 2010-2019 was 275 mln. GEL, with particularly high annual budget expenditure of more than 300 mln. GEL in 2015-2017. While agricultural GDP in 2013-2016 was higher than in 2010-2012, there is a clear downward trend in growth from 2013-2016. The period of recession coincided with the highest public spending on agriculture; with the recession peaking in 2017 due to a stink bug invasion. The infestation appeared in 2016 and significantly damaged one of Georgia’s major agricultural crops – hazelnut. While hazelnut production suffered the most, the sting bug also damaged other crops, and eventually led to one of the lowest levels of agricultural GDP (2,380 mln. GEL) in the decade. Unlike 2017, 2018 was the most successful year in Georgian agriculture over the last decade due to the following: • An increase in fruit production: a 63% increase in 2018 compared to 2016 and a 44% increase compared to 2017; • An increase in animal production: a 10% increase in meat production, a 5% increase in milk production, and a 6% increase in egg production compared to 2017; • An increase in the production of annual crops: of wheat, maize, and vegetables compared to 2017, though still lower than in 2016. While public spending affects agricultural GDP, the other reasons affecting agricultural output include the sector’s dependency on weather and the relatively long payback period for state

funded agricultural programs.

Source: Geostat, 2020; Ministry of Finance of Georgia, 2020

FDI

Figure 2. FDI in Georgian agriculture

While agricultural GDP peaked in 2018, FDI, on the contrary, marked its minimum level, with a divestment of 3 mln. GEL in the sector in 2018. Certain major drivers for the low FDI in agriculture are: • The well-known, and hotly debated, ban on the purchase of agricultural land by foreigners; • Limited production factors in rural areas – the aging population, lack of human, and physical capital; • Political instability and tensions – many protests have taken place in the streets of Tbilisi over the last two years. FDI in agriculture constituted, on average, 1.1% of the total FDI in Georgia for 2009-2019. Overall, it shows a downward trend, despite depreciation of the Georgian lari. While currency depreciation usually positively affects FDI, in Georgia, so far, there is no evidence of this.

Source: Geostat, 2020 Figure 3. Employment statistics

PRICES There has been a significant increase in food prices in recent years. The latest statistics shows that food prices have increased by 12.7% (Geostat, 2020). The two-digit inflation in food prices persisted throughout 2019 and was driven mostly by domestic currency depreciation, leading to more expensive food imports. Although increased public spending should have contributed to the expansion of domestic production, and a reduction in import demand and prices,

Source: Geostat, 2020 Note: The author assumes that the self-employed in rural area are working within agriculture.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY MARCH 17 - 19, 2020

5

FEBRUARY 2020

Monthly Tourism Update – February 2020

E

ach year between the period of 2015-2019, February has been the month when the number of tourists hit the lowest point during the year. It seems that February 2020 will be no exception to this seasonal pattern, as, compared to January 2020, the number of international tourists decreased by 29% (106 thousand), which is 13 p.p. higher than the average fall from January to February between 2015-2019 (16%). Excluding 2020, the YoY growth of tourists in February has been keeping up with the YoY growth rate of tourists in the winter period (December, January, February). The number of tourists in winter has been growing steadily in the years 2015-2020, with the average YoY growth rate being 10%, while the same figure for corresponding summer period was just 1 p.p. higher (11%). Furthermore, the linear trend analysis of the years 2015-2019 indicates that if the current trend is maintained, Georgia will gain 86 thousand visitors in winter each year. In February 2019, the number of tourists increased by 4%. This increase, according to GNTA, is due to increased spending in promotional campaigns in selected countries (US, Gulf region, Western Europe, Scandinavia, Israel and Poland). Correspondingly, the number of international visitors from these selected countries grew by 41% compared to February 2019. The new COVID-19 virus potentially poses threats to the tourism industry in Georgia and worldwide. According to worldometers.info, China, Italy and Iran are the three leading countries in terms of the number of COVID-19 infections.

Table 1 : Percentage change of prices in January 2020 over December 2019 and over January 2019.

The analysis of the dynamics of change of international visitor trips from January to February of the three countries between 2015-2020 shows that if the pattern shown in this period was retained in 2020, the amount of visitor trips from China should have increased by 22.4% in February 2020 compared to January 2020, while instead it decreased by 68.8%. For Iran and Italy, these figures are less dramatic: if the trend was followed, the fall in the number of visitor trips would have been 2.1% in Iran and 1% in Italy, while in reality the number of visitor trips from the two countries decreased by 27.2% and 29% respectively. It is

Graph 1: Incoming Tourists in Winter, 2015-2020

unlikely the Georgian economy will have significant losses due to the decrease of international visitor trips from these three countries, as their total share of international visitor trips was just 2.7% in 2019. However, with the number of cases growing worldwide every day, and Georgia being no exception, it is hard to quantify the possible adverse impact of the virus. Moreover, in February 2020, the number of visitors entering Georgia by air decreased by 10.3% compared to February 2019, and by 18.2% compared to January 2020. Further developments in the following months will reveal more about the impact of COVID-19 on the Georgian tourism and hospitality industries.

and Tbilisi (-11.6%).

AVERAGE HOTEL PRICES In Georgia, the average cost of a room2 in a 3-star hotel was 115 GEL per night in February 2020. While the average cost of a room in a 4-star hotel in Georgia was 184 GEL per night and the average

cost of a room in a guesthouse3 was 66 GEL per night. The average cost of a room in a 5-star hotel in Georgia in February 2020 was 301 GEL per night. In Mtkheta-Mtianeti, the average price was 779 GEL, followed by Tbilisi - 444 GEL, Samtskhe-Javakheti – 339 GEL and Guria - 331 GEL.

Graph 2: In the graph, average prices for standard double rooms in 3 and 4-star hotels and guesthouses are given by region. 5-star hotel prices are provided above.

HOTEL PRICE INDEX

Source: Georgian National Tourism Administration.

Gov't Presents Anti-crisis Plan to Reduce Coronavirus Impact on Economy BY ANA DUMBADZE

T

he government of Georgia has presented an anti-crisis plan for local businesses in order to stimulate the economy and ease the burden caused by the coronavirus crisis. The government responded to the demand of businesses linked to tour-

ism, such as hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and tour operators in Georgia and decided to postpone payment of property and income tax by four months. The Prime Minister announced at a special briefing that the plan implies concrete measures, and their implementation is expected to create additional financial resources of 1 bln GEL in the economy of the country. Continued on page 8

In February 2020, the hotel price index1 in Georgia decreased by 23.2% compared to January 2020. The 3-star, 4-star and 5-star hotel price index decreased by 19.7%, while for guesthouses, the price index decreased by 30.2%. Along with other factors, this may be due to the reaction to the adverse expectations about the number of tourists created by the threat of the COVID-19. In February 2020, compared to February 2019, hotel prices in Georgia decreased by 14.6%. The prices of 3*, 4*, 5* hotels decreased by 15.4%, while the prices of guesthouses decreased by 16.3%. In terms of regions, the prices decreased the most in Adjara (-28.8%), followed by Guria (-25.5%), Samtskhe-Javakheti (-16.9%)

The calculation of the hotel price index is based on the recommendations given by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The elementary aggregate price index is calculated by Jevons index (Consumer Price Index Manual-Theory and Practice (2004), Practical Guide to Producing Consumer Price Indices (2009)). 2 The results are based on the surveying of standard double hotel room prices of 3, 4, 5-star hotels and guesthouses in 10 regions of Georgia. Hotels were chosen arbitrarily according to random sampling principle. The study contains 71% (312) of all 3, 4 and 5-star hotels and 25% (456 guesthouses) of all guesthouses registered on www. booking.com The 3, 4 and 5-star hotel price data was collected by contacting hotels individually, while the prices of guesthouses were taken from booking.com. The average prices are arithmetic mean of standard double hotel room prices. 3 Guesthouse: a type of accommodation that is characterized by having a small number of rooms and services are usually offered by the resident family. 4 * Preliminary results 1


6

BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

MARCH 17 - 19, 2020

Monograph: Redefining Luxury in the Hotel Industry

BY ELENE DZEBISASHVILI

A

lthough MONOGRAPH has only been open since February 2020, it has already become an exceptional place for those in the know. As a boutique hotel hurtling toward the future, MONOGRAPH has perfected the art of merging classic luxury with the aesthetic values of minimalism. Housed in a historical XIX century building, MONOGRAPH is centrally located next to Freedom Square, which has retained its pristine look and some of Tbilisi’s unique historical sites. Replete

with classical and modern architectural patterns, the area epitomizes a merger between the city’s present and future, hence its being a starting point of adventure for visitors to Georgia. Inside MONOGRAPH, the walls practically hum with history: they are replete with the stories, experiences, thoughts, ideas and memories of Georgian travelers, all expressed in monographs. These represent a vital aspect of the Georgian identity. That MONOGRAPH conveys the best of Italian architectural elegance is no exaggeration. The interior is modern and minimal, with bursts of luxury and color, including Barovier & Toso's unique chandeliers that epitomize the best of Italian artisanal manufacturing. The

lounge is decked in earthy tones, which have a warm and sumptuous feel; the walls are hung with beautiful artwork by the cherished Georgian artist Levan Songulashvili; and service is so impeccable that MONOGRAPH is more than deserving of its Michelin star. The hotel is run by the representative of the Swiss Consulting and Management Company Devport, Manuel Locher. Authors of MONOGRAPH’s interior design project are Motif Design Elements and Proact.e, which at the same time supply the hotel with exceptional materials and furniture. The hotel offers 36 spacious rooms decorated with exquisite taste and guest comfort in mind. Stemming from the values that MONOGRAPH upholds, each

accessory, piece of furniture or artwork was chosen for the rooms with special love and care. The hotel’s concept is further embellished by the elegant SOMINEE, a signature restaurant offering Georgian gastronomy at its best, prepared with bold inventive twists to the traditional dishes and only locally sourced ingredients. With its attention to detail, perfect execution and immaculate service, the restaurant provides an exceptional fine dining experience. The team’s passion and knowledge are evident in each serving, and you will never leave SOMINEE without a full belly

and an ear-to-ear grin. The kitchen is headed by Chef Francesco Manalo, a New Yorker who has long been involved in studying and redefining Georgian cuisine. Even the most venerable cuisines are not static; Manalo’s experimental, creative flourishing only add to the charm of Georgian traditional dishes. SOMINEE is designed to provide the best of experiences for wine-lovers, which further adds to the hotel’s devout accentuation of the Georgian identity. For generations, Georgia has taken pride in its distinction as the birthplace of wine. Georgia’s tradition of vine growing began eight thousand years ago; three thousand years before the invention of writing. SOMINEE features a rich selection of exclusive Georgian wines from numerous local winemakers. The best selection of premium class French and Italian wines are also available to delight the guests. The curled staircase is another feature emanating love and respect for Georgian traditions. It is adorned with the magical chandelier designed by master Venetian artisans from GIOPATO & COOMBES, featuring a sophisticated engraving that reads "Praise and Glory of the Georgian Language". The chandelier is a symbolic expression of the affinity between the sky and earth. MONOGRAPH is built adhering to the belief that when you visit Georgia, a good hotel should help you experience the country’s temperament, traditions and spirit in a holistic way. When you’re in a high-standard hotel like MONOGRAPH, you know that the bar will be a stunner. At the sophisticated Lounge, one can enjoy a diverse assortment of hand-crafted cocktails that can be equalled to artwork. After taking it all in, head to the fancy terrace on the 7th floor to enjoy stunning panoramic views of Tbilisi. With the longest open bar in Georgia, the terrace will be ready to welcome its guests from May. If you want to feel all the charm of Georgian traditions, to feel at home, to receive sterling service and to revel in the elegance of architectural and artistic patterns, you need to stay at MONOGRAPH.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY MARCH 17 - 19, 2020

7

Jobs Come & Go

Image source: aid.edu

OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE

T

o get a taste of what this article has in store, we might need to first look back at the previous one. The intricacy of the job market is a multifaceted shtick which needs ceaseless care and attention, organized by the state and the business sector of the country. It is no news that economies are susceptible to recessions and force majeure of various origin, like pandemics, taking the world by surprise. In times like this, humankind changes manner, way of life and habits of making money, the latter being the most painful among the due alterations. Recession is only the beginning of possible deterioration of our lifestyle, which may turn into a crisis, and that crisis may grow into a real economic catastrophe. The fun part of the potential disaster though is that every cloud has a lurking silver lining for some of us who happen to be better thinkers than others, aiming at making money in times of frustrations and hardships. Those distinguished brains know well that Man never stops working. The internal human drive to survive is almost instinctive, which would theoretically mean that job markets are never devoid of a chance to work even during the worst economic calamities. Sure, the number of available jobs changes from time to time, and their content goes through certain adjustments too, but this is less important than the fact that there is always enough work around if one knows what to do and how to do it, thus perpetuating the unique ability of the human brain to fill the stomach. It is also true that we never know exactly when jobs come and go, where they come from and in what numbers- but they always do. On the other hand, the presence of an ample number of jobs is not enough to have the market operate effectively because some people are not ready to work for the available wages, conditions and obligations. This might sound like a slight

overstatement in Georgia but there is a certain amount of truth to it that has to be honored. Addressing the government with reprimands for the lack of work is a style that is gradually becoming obsolete. Moreover, there is nothing more inadequate than waiting for a job that comes on a tray, garnished with an impressive paycheck. It is time for all of us either to accept what is available on the labor market at a given moment, or be good enough to employ our own selves by means of creating a job or a number of jobs to employ others too! We cannot expect the economy to be healthy on a permanent basis, but when it is strong, it always creates enough jobs to let most of the people work that are available to be employed. The remaining part constitutes natural unemployment between 5 to 7% in developed countries. What matters most is our ability to keep up demand in the market for our labor. The coming and going of jobs, as well as their quantity, depends on the so called labor participation rate, which means the entire diverse labor force desiring to work or searching for employment. New companies entering the country’s economy are the most prolific job creators, which could be a real panacea for Georgia’s job market, offsetting the detrimental labor picture, created by retirees, college involvement, military service, illness, home-staying mothers, etc. These are the contributors to job market shrinkage, whereas the cherished goal is the reduction of unemployment, and for this, employment efforts should grow faster than the labor force itself. Will this ever happen in Georgia? Hopefully, yes but so far, there is a regrettable disparity between the two crucial variables: the tempo of employment and the growth of labor force size. Ultimately, what we make depends on our productivity, and if our productivity is propped up by modern technology and the benefits of globalization, then it pushes our earnings up, but wages differ, depending on skills and education. So let us, the entire nation choose useful skills and relevant education that easily translates into money-making jobs!

Tbilisi Mayor: Employees to Receive Salaries Despite School Suspension

BY ELENE DZEBISASHVILI

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bilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze announced on Monday that over 2500 therapists, teachers and coaches involved in municipal programs will receive salaries without interruption even though education has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Educational processes and a number of other municipal programs have been suspended in Georgia in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-

19. We have decided to continue issuing salaries to support persons employed at cultural, sports, educational and youth centers. In total, there are about 2,500 teachers, coaches and therapists who serve up to 25,000 children. Teachers will receive salaries insofar as they make up for all missed hours as the pandemic passes. Tbilisi City Hall will likewise continue funding programs for socially disadvantaged high school students,” said Kaladze. Nations across the world have stepped up extensive measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Suspension of educational processes has been one of those.

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

MARCH 17 - 19, 2020

Striking Tkibuli Miners Request Meeting with Authorities BY TEA MARIAMIDZE

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orkers of the Dzidziguri mine in Tkibuli, a mining town in west-central Georgia, Imereti region, are refusing to go back to work until their working conditions are improved and missed days are remunerated. The workers explain that their protest followed a decision of the company to temporarily shut down the Dzidziguri shaft, “forcing” employees to move to a hazardous location through the underground ventilation tunnel, which workers refused to do after five miners were taken to Kutaisi hospital allegedly due to poisoning from the gas which had accumulated in the same tunnel. The employees call on the company to pay them for the missed days and say they will then return to work, but only because they have “no other way.” “We refused to work in the shaft because the conditions there were incompatible with our health and safety. This is what happened a few days ago when five of us were poisoned by gas. Administration took the poisoned workers to hospital not by ambulance but in their own cars, to hide the incident,” the workers said. They state that the ventilation tunnel is tricky to move through and is dangerous for health as it emits exhaust gases from the entire shaft. “We have to walk around four kilometers daily in this dangerous environment. In addition to this, poisoning and fatalities can occur at any time. The employer tells us that we will be back to our old mode of work in three months. We are well aware that the same terrible conditions that will destroy our health and threaten to kill us again await us,” the miners stated.

Image source: fortuna.ge

The workers stressed they do not feel support from the state and they agree to go back to work only if their missed salaries are paid from the launch of the strike.

“We are requesting an open meeting with the employer company with the participation of a state representative. At this meeting, we expect clear answers to our questions and reasonable

deadlines to meet our requirements,” the statement, released on Saturday, reads. The miners highlight that after the tragic death of 10 miners in 2018, the Prime Minister promised that unless the working environment was safe, coal mining would not continue this is a promise, they say, that was not kept. “We remember this promise every time we go into the mine. Failure to comply with this requirement by the state enables the company to use our social status and make us work in a life-threatening environment. This cannot last much longer, and new tragedies will be seen if we continue working in such conditions. The state and company will be equally responsible for this,” the statement reads. The Dzidziguri mine workers first went on strike in late February, claiming the mine train had been damaged for a week, meaning they had to walk several kilometers to perform their duties. They also stated the company planned to close the mine, and some of the workers would be left without jobs. The mine owner company ‘Coal of Georgia’ Director Mikheil Sotski noted then that it was not planned to reduce the number of workers and the Dzidziguri mine was stopped due to technical issues. He said the company also planned to renovate the mine infrastructure. In September 2019, up to 30 workers went on strike in Mindeli and Dzidziguri mines, demanding delayed salaries. Georgia's industrial group Saknakhshiri LTD responded to the miners’ protest, saying that the company was facing financial problems, and the workers were informed about this. To note, as a result of industrial accidents in April and June 2018, 10 miners were killed in the Mindeli Shaft in Tkibuli, after which work was temporarily halted. Since then, the miners have been on a strike multiple times demanding safe working conditions and better salaries.

Gov't Presents Anti-crisis Plan to Reduce Coronavirus Impact on Economy Continued from page 5

Located in one of the oldest and most picturesque districts of Tbilisi, Mtatsminda and distinguished for its fairytale architecture, restaurant Funicular opened its doors to guests for the first time eight decades ago in 1938 and since then has hosted several honorable guests, from Margaret Thatcher to Indira Gandhi and Fidel Castro. If you are looking for authentic experience of Tbilisi, served with mouth-watering gourmet food and a memorable evening in an atmosphere that lets you travel back in time and experience best of what the city could offer, then Restaurant Funicular is a definite must visit place during your visit to Georgia. +995 032 2 98 00 00 +995 577 74 44 00 info@funicular.ge

In particular, the government's plan for stimulation of the economy envisages the following measures: 1. Businesses that will encounter problems in servicing their loans will get their liabilities restructured by commercial banks on an individual basis. The hotel industry alone will see around 100 mln GEL liberated as a result of the process; 2. Citizens who desire to postpone their loan repayment will be given such opportunity by commercial banks in the coming three months; 3. Companies that operate in the tourism industry: hotels and restaurants, travel agencies, passenger transportation companies, sightseeing companies, arts and sports event organizers, etc. will get their property and personal income taxes freed up by the Government of Georgia for the coming 4 months (the due date for the latter being November 1, 2020). Tax incentives will apply to 18,000 employers and over 50,000 employees. It means that over 100 mln GEL will remain in this sector of the economy; 4. The Government of Georgia will double the volume of VAT refunds to companies with the

aim of supplying them with working capital and instead of 600 mln GEL originally intended by the Ministry of Finance of Georgia (MOF) 1.2 bln GEL (by 600 mln GEL more) will be refunded by the end of the year; 5. A tailor-made State Program will be designed to co-finance the interest payment on bank loan borrowings by hotels with 4-50 rooms throughout the country for the coming 6 months. This project will apply to about 2000 hotels operating in the country, which might have otherwise run into significant financial losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic; 6. Apart from the above-mentioned, the State will augment its support towards capital expenditure (CapEx) projects with an aim of providing additional economic incentives. CapEx envisaged in the State Budget of Georgia for 2020 will be increased by 300 mln GEL. The Government of Georgia is already working towards optimizing the banking regulations, which will create an additional incentive for facilitating the economic performance in the country. Negotiations with International Financial Institutions (IFIs) have already been started to solicite financial resources from their special allocations.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY MARCH 17 - 19, 2020

Georgia's Labor Inspectorate: 45 Died, 168 Injured at Workplaces in 2019

Image source: postimees.ee

BY TEA MARIAMIDZE

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eorgia’s Labor Inspection Department under the Ministry of IDPs from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, released a summary of its activities for 2019, which reads that a total of 45 employees were killed and 168 were injured in the workplace last year. The report also reads that compared to the previous data, the number of people killed in the workplace has fallen by 24% and the number of injured by 16%. To note, in 2018, 59 employees died in industrial accidents and 199 were injured, which was an increase compared to the previous year. The inspection noted that the construction, processing and mining fields are the key areas where death and injury in the manufacturing process in 2019 were most frequently reported. The majority of industrial cases were recorded in Tbilisi. More than half those killed and injured last year were from the construction sector, according to the report. Specifically, 29 people were killed and 54 injured in the construction sector in 2019. Last year five people were killed and 42 injured in the processing industry. The processing industry is a large sector that combines both food and textile production, as well as petroleum products, chemicals and metals. The report does not include more specific data. Three were killed and 16 injured in the mining industry. This field includes extraction of coal and metal ores in Georgia’s western cities of Chiatura and Tkibuli. The report says that four workers died and six were injured in the electricity supply sector, one died and 24 were hurt in the transport and warehousing sector, and two were killed and 13 injured in the water supply and waste management sector. One died and six were injured in oil trade and five employees were injured in the provision of accommodation and food supply activities. Two workers were injured in the agriculture sector in 2019. The Labor Inspectorate report reads that nine of the total injured were women and159 were men,

and all of the dead workers in 2019 were men. In sum, in 2011-2019, 435 people died in industrial accidents and 1280 were injured. The report also says that last year 1264 inspections were carried out at 558 facilities. Most frequently inspected were the construction sector and manufacturing industries, and 62% of these were located in Tbilisi. The Labor Inspectorate found 4806 violations during the inspection process, and the percentage of violations was distributed as follows: • 11% - Lack of risk assessment • 10% - work without personal protective equipment • 9% - Lack of giving proper instructions • 9% - No alcohol control • 9% - Absence of recording, investigating and analyzing industrial cases • 6% - No security specialist • 5% - Lack of insurance for employees at risk • 5% - Neglecting first aid measures The report explains that for early-stage discrepancies, enterprises are warned about the punitive measures for administrative offenses. "After the warning, 127 enterprises [in 2019] fully eliminated the violations and 202 were fined from GEL 200 ($71) to GEL14,000 ($5,017) for violating labor safety standards," the report reads. The Labor Inspectorate says two enterprises were fined GEL 50,000 ($17,921) for critical violations over two calendar years, while seven enterprises were fined between GEL 4000 and 14,000 GEL for obstructing the work of the inspectors. “The administrative fine of 28 enterprises was set at GEL 1000 ($358) for failure to register their businesses as ‘high risk, heavy, harmful and dangerous activities’ in the Registry of Economic Activities,” the agency reports. At 92 sites, after a Court decision, the work process was suspended due to a critical breach of safety standards. To note, from 1 September 2019, the Law of Georgia on Labor Safety applies not only to the dangerous, heavy and hazardous labor fields, but to all sectors of economic activity, and the supervisory body is authorized to check any workspace covered by the inspectorate mandate without prior warning and at any time of day or night.

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BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY

MARCH 17 - 19, 2020

TBC Bank & Georgian Art Palace Give New Life to the Ancient Georgian Textile BY NINI DAKHUNDARIDZE

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BC Bank and Georgian Art Palace have collaborated on a new project which aims to give new life to the historical and traditional textile of the country of Georgia. Giorgi Kalandia, Director of the Georgian Art Palace, spoke to GEORGIA TODAY about the project in progress, highlighting the importance of reintroducing the unique and ancient Georgian textile to the world. “We’re a country of rich history and culture, so it comes as no surprise that our fabrics and textiles have a long and rich history,” Kalandia tells us. “Luckily, Georgia is placed on the world map where Europe meets Asia, and like the country’s ethno culture, its textile combines the best traditions of the two continents. But that’s not all: the European and Asian influences were topped by the Georgian character and unique approach of the country to textiles, shown very evidently in its ornaments. In the end, what we got is a very interesting textile, which can only be seen in Geor-

gia. Since we’re a country of a huge history, our past is very important to us. If our past becomes a part of our everyday life, it will make Georgia even more attractive and interesting – that is why it’s so important to revive this culture”. It all started with the Art Palace publishing a book titled ‘Textile from Georgia’ back in 2018, Kalandia tells us. The 400-page book features hundreds of different iconic, historical textiles that were worn by Georgian royalty and noblemen. It is an encyclopaedia of unique fabric samples dating from the 7th century to the 1920s. There are more than 200 frescos and about 300 textile types included in the book, but over 600 frescos have been used as sources to reimagine the historical textiles that were worn centuries ago. “The book received the Europa Nostra award the year it was issued, for its scientific research, and it thus attracted the attention of TBC Bank,” Kalandia says. “The fabric samples that were printed in the book, which were all in fact reproduced from more than 600 frescos, caught the Bank’s interest, and they decided to help this project go a step further. They have been a friend of our museum for a

long time and we quickly found common ground to work on this project. What we got in the end is this great final product”.

“Financed by the Ministry of Culture and Monumental Protection of Georgia, a workshop was opened on the ground floor of the Art Palace to produce samples of historical Georgian textile. This is a unique project because we are creating (and reviving) the textiles in the same way that our ancestors did. “It’s mainly silk work, but as silk is an exclusive fabric, it is too expensive to be mass produced, and we wanted the revived Georgian textiles to be affordable for the masses- youth and tourists,” Kalandia told us. And that’s where TBC Bank stepped in. “TBC Bank started taking practical steps to reach out to the partners of the Bank, Georgian designers, and everyone who was interested in the textile and its production. That is how we ended up with textile samples using ornamented décor: we brought that ornamented décor to jeans and other items of contemporary clothing, making Georgian fabric interesting and attractive to all,” the Art Palace director says. On their end, TBC Bank’s Head of the Brand and Creative Department, Koka Kamushadze, revealed the Bank’s discovery that there are some cases when the past should not be something that

has just passed us. “We discovered that the Dark Ages, as the Middle Ages are known in history, was actually pretty colorful visually. What today may be perceived as the textile creation of a famous designer, was in actual fact already worn by our ancestors ten centuries ago. This is more of a realization than a discovery: we realized that Georgian textile can continue to live and be very modern”. Several designers and start-uppers have already joined the project, creating contemporary designs with ancient inspiration taken from the historical Georgian textile. It’s was revealed to us that some of the designers already putting it into practise are Daraia, Muzaradi, Side Size, Ceramic Studio, Lakoiaj, Spilow, and the Why not Gallery. The final ready-to-wear-collection will be united under one brand, reviving the Georgian textile rich in design, meaning and culture. The Art Palace director told us that a website will soon be created where people will be able to purchase contemporary pieces that are the reincarnations of Georgian textile. The prices will vary from affordable for most to expensive, depending on the type of fabric used.

Domestic Tourism Survey 2019: Number of Visitors Increased by 8.6% BY ANA DUMBADZE

I

n 2019, the monthly average number of Georgian domestic tourists aged 15 years or over equaled 992.9 thousand, who made on average 1.2 million visits per month within the territory of Georgia. In comparison to the previous year, the number of domestic tourists has increased by 8.6%, the latest data published by the National Statistics Center of Georgia (Geostat) shows. In 2019, the monthly average number of tourist visits of Georgian residents amounted to 530.7 thousand, which is 10.3% higher than the indicator of the previous year. 36.7% of visits were carried out by domestic tourists of the 31-50 age group, 55.5% of who were women. The survey results show that 29.9% of domestic tourists are the residents of Tbilisi, 16.8% - Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti region, 11.9% – Adjara A/R, while the rest of the regions are represented by a lower share in the structure. In 2019, the main purpose of the majority visits (51.0%) was visiting friends/relatives. The majority of the visits happened in Tbilisi (average 286.9 thousand visits per month) and Imereti (208.0 thousand visits per month). The monthly average expenditure during the visits equaled 153.5 million GEL. This indicator is 6.0% higher than the indicator of the previous year. As for the average expenditure per visit, it decreased YoY by 3.0 GEL and equaled 129.3 GEL.


BUSINESS

GEORGIA TODAY MARCH 17 - 19, 2020

11

Geostat: Subsistence Minimum Increased Compared to January 2020

Russia, Italy, Greece: Georgia's Largest Remittance Senders in February 2020 BY ANA DUMBADZE

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eorgia received $137.3 million from abroad in February 2020, which is 9.5% more than the amount in February 2019, says the latest report published by the National Bank of Georgia. The Russian Federation is in the first place on the list, from which 28.6 million was transferred to Georgia. The statistics show that remittances from Italy to Georgia last month totaled $ 21.6 million, which is 24% more compared to the previous year. Consequently, the outbreak of coronavirus in Italy in February did not have a negative impact on remittances. The main source of remittances is in amounts sent by Georgian emigrants abroad; consequently, the countries with the largest number of immigrants were

the largest remittance senders in February 2020. Russia ($28.68 million), Italy ($21.67 million) and Greece ($16.43 million) were the largest remittance senders in February 2020. The rating of the countries that regularly transferred money to Georgia is as follows: 1 Russian Federation - $28.68 million, 9.3% decrease compared to the previous year; 2 Italy - $21.67 million, 24.2% increase compared to the previous year; 3 Greece - $16.43 million, 16.0% increase compared to the previous year; 4 Israel - $14.44 million, 12.6% increase compared to the previous year; 5 United States – $14.39 million, 13.0% increase compared to the previous year; 6 Turkey – $7.77 million, 0.9% increase compared to the previous year; 7 Germany - $4.65 million, 30.0% increase compared to the previous year;

8 Ukraine - $4.16 million, 78.7% increase compared to the previous year; 9 Spain - $3.73 million, 7.2% increase compared to the previous year; 10 Poland - $2.38 million, 7.2% increase compared to the previous year; 11 Azerbaijan - $2.05 million, 44.7% increase compared to the previous year; 12 France - $2 million, 7.7% increase compared to the previous year; 13 Kazakhstan - $1.88 million, 46.9% increase compared to the previous year; 14 United Kingdom - $1.46 million, 6.4% increase compared to the previous year; 15 Cyprus - $1.22 million, 25.5% increase compared to the previous year; 16 Canada - $1.11 million, 16,7% increase compared to the previous year; 17 Ireland - $1.1 million, 60.1% increase compared to the previous year. Remittances sent from Georgia amounted to $21.7 million in February 2020, which is 22.4% more compared to the same period of the previous year ($17.7 million).

BY ANA DUMBADZE

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n February 2020, the subsistence minimum increased compared to January 2020, the latest data published by the National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat) shows. January 2020 – Subsistence minimum for working-age male: GEL 197.0 February 2020 – Subsistence minimum for working-age male: GEL 199.0 As of February 2020 data, the subsistence minimum distributed by type of

household: For single-member household – GEL 176.2 For two-member household – GEL 282.0 For three-member household – GEL 317.2 For four-member household – GEL 352.5 For five-member household – GEL 396.5 For six and more member household – GEL 468.8 The National Statistics Office of Georgia calculates the subsistence minimum based on the minimum consumer basket.

State Agencies Switch to Remote Working Mode

Cartu Fund Ready to Provide State with Financial Resources against Coronavirus

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artu Fund has expressed its readiness to provide the State with financial resources in case of any need, possible financial or other loss, in order to protect the public from the threat of spreading the virus as much as possible. “Today, our country, along with the rest of the world, is facing the challenge of avoiding the threat of spreading coronavirus. The Government of Georgia, all relevant agencies and the entire state, have been actively involved in preventing the spread of the virus since the very first day and have been very effective in avoiding the danger.

"The World Health Organization and our international partners emphasize the qualified and effective management of the process by the Georgian authorities, for which we thank all relevant agencies, in particular, the Ministry of Health, the Center for Immunology and Epidemiology, the infectious hospital, all the clinics, doctors, specialists and persons involved in this process. "Cartu Fund expresses its readiness to provide the state with financial resources in case of any need, possible financial or other loss, in order to protect the public from the threat of spreading the virus as much as possible.

PUBLISHER & GM

George Sharashidze COMMERCIAL DEPARTMENT

Commercial Director: Iva Merabishvili Marketing Manager: Natalia Chikvaidze

GEORGIA TODAY

EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT:

Editor-In-Chief: Katie Ruth Davies

"Our country, our people have overcome many challenges and we are confident that we will successfully tackle this challenge as well, in the footsteps of the civilized world and by helping each other," reads the statement released by the Fund. Cartu Bank was established as a Joint Stock Company in 1996. Over the last 20 years, it has been developing steadily and successfully holding an important position in the Georgian banking sector. From the very beginning, focusing on the corporate segment, along with its partner companies, Cartu Bank has contributed significantly to the Georgian economy.

Journalists: Ana Dumbadze, Vazha Tavberidze, Nini Dakhundaridze, Tea Mariamidze, Tony Hanmer, Emil Avdaliani, Zaza Jgarkava, Nugzar B. Ruhadze, Beka Alexishvili, Elene Dzebizashvili, Maka Bibilashvili

BY ANA DUMBADZE

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ost state agencies in Georgia are switching to a remote working mode from this week. Ministries and other state agencies are following the recommendations of Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, who advised them last week to work from home to prevent the spread

Photographer: Aleksei Serov Website Manager/Editor: Katie Ruth Davies Layout: Misha Mchedlishvili Webmaster: Sergey Gevenov Circulation Managers: David Kerdikashvili, David Djandjgava

of the new coronavirus. Accordingly, members of staff of the ministries and other state agencies will temporarily work in a remote mode. Private organizations have been recommended the same. "However, we emphasize that this should not hinder the effective performance of the agencies' activities and should not affect the remuneration of employees," the Government Administration said. The remote working regime does not apply to the ministers or their deputies.

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