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Issue no: 1230/220


In this week’s issue...


Georgia shuts down flights with Iran as 9 die there this weekend


Weekly Entrepreneurial News @entrepreneur.ge



Signs of Optimism Coming from Agriculture & Manufacturing Industries ISET PAGE 4

Four Years of Tamar Beruchashvili, 1st Female Ambassador of Georgia to the UK BUSINESS PAGE 5

Beeline Conducts User Experience Research with Medallia in Digital Channels BUSINESS PAGE 9

How Much Does a 4-Member Family Need to Survive in Georgia? BY TEA MARIAMIDZE

Penalties to Rise for Construction Waste Pollution BUSINESS PAGE 10

Govt' Plans to Sell Former Parliament Building in Kutaisi BUSINESS PAGE 10

Georgian Wines & Spirits – A Georgian Wine Fan in the United States


s of January 2020, the minimum monthly wage in Georgia is 174.4 GEL ($61.59), while the minimum wage for a fourmember family is GEL 348.9 ($123) if two people are employed. Official data of the Georgian National Statistics Office (Geostat) reads that the average monthly consumer spending in Georgia was GEL 208.7 ($73.63) per person last year. According to Geostat, consumer spending includes food, beverages, tobacco, clothing,

BUSINESS PAGE 11 Prepared for Georgia Today Business by

Markets Asof21ͲFebͲ2020


Image source: sunsetbayestates.com






















education, footwear, health care, transportation, heating, electricity and household goods. As for the average spending by one person per month, according to Geostat, one person spends GEL 78.1 on food, beverages and tobacco, on clothing and footwear GEL 9.2, on household consumption GEL 8.5, on healthcare GEL 26, on electricity and heating 27.1 GEL, on transport 22.3 GEL, on education 7.2 GEL and on other consumer expenses 30.3 GEL. Based on the above data, it turns out that keeping a family of four in Georgia will cost at least GEL 834.8 ($295.50) per month, including food, beverages, transportation, healthcare, and other basic expenses. Continued on page 5








































































































































1,7008 +0,16%





@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: Tea Ramishvili is the founder and designer of Mortuli. Inspired by unique traditional ornaments in the paintings, fabrics, and goldsmithery techniques in different Georgian regions, she decided to transfer them into contemporary designs. Mortuli sells socks that are decorated with unique Georgian ornaments, with a contemporary twist, showing Georgians and foreigners the rich culture and past of Georgia. Qwhiskey is a premium-class alcoholic drink from Georgia, presenting a synthesis of wine and whiskey. Qwhiskey is a joint start-up of Gigi Tevzadze, Nini Chachia, Aleko Bakuradze, and Giorgi Barisashvili and cae from a lot of experimenting. Currently, the brand offers two kinds of drink: Qwhiskey white and Qwhiskey red. It is a 100% natural, pure drink that causes no hangover the next day! Qwhiskey is now in active talks with exporters, aiming for the many European markets. Tech Park hosted the annual report presentation of the Georgian Agency of Innovation and Technologies (GITA), and the signing of agreements between them and 500 Startups in an early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator founded in 2010 by Dave McClure and Christine Tsai. In 2020-2022, 3000 IT specialists will be retrained in high-paying professions like programming, cybersafety, and mobile development, and the Technology Transfer Pilot Program (TTPP) will run, aiming to help commercialize scientific projects that are in high demand on the market. 74 candidates applied from different research centers and Georgian universities, and 13 projects were chosen. The project is implemented by the World Bank Group and GITA, and is financially supported by the EU. 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


FEBRUARY 25 - 27, 2020

Georgian FM to Address the UNHRC in Geneva BY BEKA ALEXISHVILI


eorgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani states that in the upcoming convention at the Geneva Human Rights Council, he will use the opportunity to full effect to put the spotlight on human rights violations in the occupied territories of Georgia. According to the FM, the main topics for his UN address will entail: blocked crossing points, discrimination of Georgians on the basis of ethnicity, as well as kidnappings and murders at the ABL (Administrative Boundary Line). “The Human Rights Councils’ very high-level meeting will be maximally used to ‘illuminate’ the problems in the occupied territories and more precisely the severe humanitarian situation on the ground. In my address, I will definitely talk about the violations of the fundamental rights in the regions, such as freedom of movement, blocked crossing

points, discrimination of Georgians on the basis of their ethnicity, kidnappings and killings. It's natural that these topics will be the main discussion themes, as well as mobilization of international aid at the highest level,” said the Minister. The UN, in the format of the Human Rights Council, annually accepts an equitable resolution. The FM adds that in this year’s resolution, the topics will circle around the international aid in the occupied territories of Georgia. Zalkaliani will also highlight the recent cyber-attacks on Georgia by the Russian

Federation and will seek to gain attention on cyber-security. “As you know, annually we approve a new resolution. This year, in May, work is underway to maximally mobilize and ratify the new resolution. The Human Rights resolution underscores the situation in the occupied territories and suggests lawful international aid in this field. I am certain this resolution will pass this year and we will have the full support of the UNHRC, just as we did the last two or three years.” said Zalkaliani.

Miners Demanding Better Working Conditions, Strike in Tkibuli BY ANA DUMBADZE


he 'Dzidziguri Mine' workers have gone on strike in Tkibuli, a mining town in west-central Georgia, Imereti region. They refuse to continue working until their working conditions are improved. The miners claim that they have to work in difficult conditions: the mine train has been damaged for a week, meaning they have to walk six kilometers to perform their duties. The Georgian Trade Union is involved

in negotiations with the company, saying that they have real suggestions on how to overcome the crisis. Previously, in September 2019, up to 30 workers went on strike in Mindeli and Dzidziguri mines, demanding delayed salaries. The Georgian Trade Union reported that the miners should have received their salaries by September 15, however, their employers left them without money and were unable to say when the salaries would be paid. In turn, the employer company Saqnakshiri LTD stated that it was facing financial problems, and the workers were informed about it.

The crisis at that time was resolved after the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Natia Turnava, met with the miners on strike and promised them that they would receive their salaries within a few days, and the working environment would also be improved in the future. As promised, the workers received salaries in two days and the protests were stopped. “The new investor, Steel Investment Trades Company, has fulfilled its first promise and fully paid the delayed salaries of local miners in Tkibuli. So, the first, most important issue, has been resolved,” the Minister stated at the time.






f anything, the novel coronavirus that emerged from the Wuhan region of China in December is becoming more alarming by the day. The death toll is rising, the number of countries with confirmed coronavirus cases continues to grow, as do the cases of the virus crossing borders between different states. On Sunday, Iran reported 43 confirmed cases of coronavirus. The countries in the region reacted quickly to the alarming information, seeing Armenia, Turkey, and Pakistan closing their land borders with Iran. Turkey also halted incoming flights from the country. Iran reported on February 24, that Covid-19 had killed 9 people there, the highest coronavirus death toll outside of China. “If the situation gets any worse, city staff will be expected to convert to teleworkers,” said the Mayor of Tehran, Pirouz Hanachi. Georgia’s neighboring country Armenia “closed the border with Iran for two weeks,” reads the Facebook post of the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. “Based on Article 16 of the Law on the State, the government had to make an extraordinary remote decision to stop communication with the Islamic Republic of Iran for two weeks,” he said. “In particular, Iran-Armenia air traffic will be stopped and the Meghri border crossing to Armenia will be closed. “Tomorrow morning, we will hold a meeting of the Committee against the Spread of Coronavirus, during which we will discuss further steps, possible scenarios and likely outcomes resulting from them,” reads the Facebook post of

the Armenian Prime Minister. On Sunday evening, the Georgian government, too, took measures. The state imposed restrictions on the movement of individuals from Iran to Georgia and vice versa in relation to the recent coronavirus outbreak. However, unlike the countries of Armenia, Turkey, and Pakistan, Georgia’s land border has been kept open for those incoming from Iran. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia explained that at this stage, airlines will not be allowed to carry passengers from Iran to Georgia, but that airlines will be able to enter Georgian airspace with empty planes and take Iranian tourists who are currently staying in Georgia back to their homeland. “On the day he heard of the spread of coronavirus in the People's Republic of China and around the world, an intergovernmental group was set up by the Prime Minister of Georgia, coordinated by the Ministry of IDPs from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia," the ministry said. "The team monitors the current state of the virus 24/7, taking concrete steps to prevent the spread of the virus on the territory of Georgia and to maximally protect the population. To this aim, the Georgian government suspended direct air traffic with China at the initial stage of the virus outbreak. "The Georgian government has also taken appropriate steps to ensure the safety of Georgian citizens residing in China. The government is in constant contact with both the World Health Organization and the international community to obtain updated information on the scale of the virus. "Currently, the highest prevalence of coronavirus, after China, was reported in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Government of Georgia is in constant contact with the Iranian authorities to obtain

information on the situation in general and possible preventive measures. Reportedly, the Iranian government is taking all measures to prevent further growth of coronavirus cases, as well as screening passengers leaving Iran. However, given the current situation, the Georgian government has decided to restrict the movement of individuals from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Georgia and vice versa. The flows of passengers from Iran to Georgia will be stopped at this stage. Airlines will be able to enter Georgia with empty planes so that Iranian tourists can return home. "At present, the land border will remain open for movement, though strict restrictions will be imposed and we will actively work with neighboring countries in this regard,” the ministry reported. “The Georgian government is monitoring developments and is continuing to work with neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan. In the future, if the need arises, we will not exclude restriction of movement through the land border. The ministry calls on Georgian citizens to refrain from traveling to Iran in the near future and asks the citizens of Georgia who are currently visiting Iran to contact the Georgian Embassy in Tehran, if necessary, at +989122997726”. Early on Monday, Kuwait, Bahrain and Afghanistan announced their first infections from the virus. Kuwait reported three cases and Bahrain confirmed one, bringing the number of countries in the Middle East affected with the virus to seven. Iraq has also sealed its border. The country shut its Safwan border crossing with Kuwait to travellers and trade at Kuwait's request. The information was reported by the local mayor to Reuters, without providing a reason. During a news conference on the state TV channel on Monday morning, Iran's Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi

Image source: France 24

said that 12 people had died and up to 61 had been infected with the new coronavirus. Earlier, an Iranian parliament member stated that at least 50 people had died in the country from the virus, but the Minister rebutted those claims. Over the weekend, China’s rate of infections and fatality rose dramatically. On February 23, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the coronavirus outbreak has been the "largest public health emergency" since the founding of Communist China. The death toll on the mainland reached 2,442, and the confirmed cases of the infected 76,936. China had 150 new confirmed deaths from the coronavirus on Sunday, the National Health Commission announced. The new fatal cases pushed the death toll nationwide to 2,592 among 77,150 confirmed cases.

South Korea's confirmed cases of coronavirus infections reached 833, and the country has confirmed seven deaths. Coronavirus cases are also appearing in Europe. So far, Italy has confirmed four deaths from the disease. Al Jazeera writes that at least 152 cases have been reported in northern Italy, prompting emergency measures in Europe. The Georgian Embassy to Italy published a statement, urging the country’s citizens in Italy to take safety measures. While the disease spreads and travel restrictions are imposed, China continues to be the biggest victim of the Covid2019. The country has even decided to postpone the annual meeting of its parliament due in March, the first such move since the Cultural Revolution.




FEBRUARY 25 - 27, 2020

Signs of Optimism Coming from Agriculture & Manufacturing Industries


usiness Confidence Index Q1 2020. In the first quarter of 2020, BCI increased by 7.3 index points reaching 25.8. Business confidence improved across all sectors with the exception of the service industry. The largest growth was observed in agriculture, followed by the manufacturing industry. In both sectors, the increase in BCI was driven by improved past performance as well as more optimistic future expectations. The Past Performance Index, which considers the business sector's assessment of their own economic performance in the previous quarter, showed an upward trend, increasing by 2.4 points in Q1 2020. Manufacturing and agriculture industries

were the lead performers in this regard. After a sharp drop in Q3 2019, the Expectations Index, which reflects business optimism, has almost fully recovered in the last two quarters reaching 42.7 index points. In Q1 2020 all sectors, except the service industry, have demonstrated heightened expectations. The biggest upswing was observed in

the Sales Price Expectations Index, which reached its highest value (18.6) since Q1 2017 (24.3). This comes after a decreasing trend observed during the past two quarters. Analysis of indices by firm size shows that overall Business Confidence, Past Performance, and Expectations indices have increased for both large companies and SMEs. As for the Sales Price Expectations index, it has improved for large firms but slightly deteriorated for SMEs. The main factors that limit business activities for firms of all sizes remain the lack of demand and limited access to finance. After significant recovery in the previous quarter, the BCI increased further by 7.3 points compared to Q4 2019 and reached 25.8. Expectations in the Georgian private sector improved by 11.5 index points, rising to 42.7. Moreover, business performance over the past three months has increased, reaching 29.3 points, indicating an upturn in production, turnover, and sales. Thus, the rise in both business expectations and past performance has led to an improvement in the overall BCI. Compared to the previous quarter, the sales price expectation index has increased, showing growth in the market share of business owners who expect higher sales prices. The BCI increased in most economic sectors, namely in the agriculture (27.6), manufacturing (25.5), retail trade (15.2), construction (12.5) and financial (8.7) sectors. The only exception was service, in which the BCI declined by 5.1 index points. Business confidence in the first quarter of 2020 has increased both for SMEs (9.2), and large firms (7.7).

PAST PERFORMANCE Businesses’ Past Performance Index that shows the development of businesses' production, turnover and sales in the past 3 months, increased by 2.4 points compared to Q4 of 2019 and reached 29.3

in Q1 2020. A significant upsurge in performance was observed in the manufacturing (61.2) and agriculture (50.2) sectors, followed by retail trade (13.2), and finance (7.2). The substantial increase in these sectors highlights that the weighted balance between positive and negat ive re s p o n s e s increased compared to the previous quarter. In the remaining sectors, Past Performance Index decreased: in service (-20.8) and construction (-0.9). Business activities in past 3 months have improved for both SMEs and large businesses. For large firms index increased by 3.4 points and raised to 36.8 in Q1 2020; for SMEs, the same indicator increased by 3.6 and stopped at -1.3 index points.

EXPECTATIONS The expectations index increased by 11.5 index points in Q1 2020. Prospects for the next three months improved for most business

sectors; the one exception being service (-5.9). The greatest increase was reported in agriculture (78.3), followed by construction (27.1) and retail trade (24.1) sectors. Business expectations have, on the whole, improved for both large firms and SMEs. The majority (70%) of the surveyed businesses do not expect a ny c h a n ge s i n employment over the next three months. Furthermore, 25% of firms stated that they would hire more employees in the future and only 6% think that they would hire fewer. Around 45% of the firms surveyed expect the economic condition of their businesses to improve over the next three months. While, 40% do not imagine any changes in the future, leaving a small proportion of businesses that believe their business conditions will worsen.

SALES PRICE EXPECTATIONS The Sales Price Expectations Index increased from 11.3 points (Q4 2020) to 18.6 points (Q1 2020). This improvement is driven by a rise in the manufacturing and service sectors. The overall Sales Price Expectations Index has decreased moderately for SMEs and increased for large companies. Around 67% of all firms surveyed do not intend to change their prices over the next three months. Only 7% of firms expect to decrease their prices, and the remaining 26% will consider increasing their prices in the future. A lack of demand and limited access to financing continue to be the most significant obstacles for both large companies and SMEs. Large companies also mention a shortage in the labor force as a further hindrance. It should be noted that the BCI results presented here may be overestimated, as the survey only covers businesses currently operating and not those that have already exited the market. Firms, which exited the market are, to some extent, more likely to have a negative outlook.




Four Years of Tamar Beruchashvili, 1st Female Ambassador of Georgia to the UK BY AMBASSADOR TAMAR BERUCHASHVILI


fter four fascinating years in London, my tenure as Ambassador of Georgia to the UK has now come to an end. It has been a great honor and a privilege to serve my country as the first female Ambassador of Georgia to the UK. Four years have gone by very quickly, which is usually a very good sign! It has been a truly rewarding experience, extremely enriching both professionally and personally; very interesting time indeed to learn more about modern British politics; observe and report about Brexit, and to work hard with my brilliant Embassy team to fulfil our mission to bring UK-Georgia relations to a higher level in these challenging times. Today, our partnership is growing from strength to strength: The UK is a devoted supporter of Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as our European and NATO integration aspirations; We are united by shared values and have common interests in preserving the rules-based international order and we face common challenges, including relations with Russia; The UK is already the one of the largest investors in Georgia, and our bilateral trade is increasing steadily. Looking back, I am really proud of what we have achieved. During the last four years, our bilateral partnership reached new heights. Allow me to mention major highlights which are particularly important for me: • Last October, Georgia was the first European country to sign a historic “Agreement on Strategic Partnership and Cooperation" with the UK. This agree-

ment established a comprehensive new legal framework between our countries after the UK leaves the European Union. This is the only agreement of this type signed at ministerial level by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia David Zalkaliani and the Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the UK, Dominique Raab. • In 2016, the UK-Georgia bilateral ‘Wardrop Dialogue” was upgraded to the Strategic level, and based on four main pillars, successfully transformed into a platform for developing political, defense and security, economic, and people-to-people ties between our countries. It also covers governmental, parliamentary and expert dimensions of our bilateral agenda; • With strong support of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Georgia, and its chair Jonathan Djanogly, at the UK Parliament, we have cemented the parliamentary dimension of this format. As a result, Georgian and British MPs enjoy regular annual exchanges, and produce comprehensive Joint Communiqués contributing to the overall dynamic of the Georgia-UK bilateral agenda; • In 2018, the first ever the Early Day Motion dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the First Democratic Republic was tabled in the UK Parliament, which emphasizes critical issues for Georgia, like sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Russian occupation of the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, as well as European and Euro-Atlantic integration; • Since 2016, together with other important issues, the grave human rights situation in the Russian-occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/ South Ossetia is regularly presented by the FCO’s annual Human Rights Report; • In 2018, the First Honorary Consulates were established in Bristol and Gibraltar, headed by two prominent Friends of

Georgia: Derek Pickup and Edwina Haynes; • As Ambassador of Georgia, I paid the first official visits to Gibraltar and Northern Ireland; • A number of MoUs were signed with chambers of commerce and business associations, among them in Wales, Scotland, Gibraltar, Northern Ireland; • As the world’s oldest winemaking country, Georgia is better known today in the UK, and Georgian wine export is rapidly growing every year, having reached a record high of 60% last year; • On the top of that, the 8000-years-old Georgian Qvevri winemaking method was introduced to the UK’s Plumpton Agricultural College curriculum, together with the British-Georgian Chamber of Commerce; • Partnership was established between the Shota Rustaveli National Foundation and the University of Oxford, making a Georgian Program possible, and doubling the number of Georgian researchers at Oxford; • A Georgian section was opened at the UCL Library and the first book about Georgia was published by the Bodleian publishers; • In partnership with the Bodleian Library, we Celebrated the 150th anniversary of Marjory Wardrop, a pioneering British scholar and the first translator of Georgian literature; • In May 2019, the Embassy of Georgia to the UK initiated and organized a Diplomatic Trip to Georgia with the participation of 30 prominent guests: acting and former Ambassadors from eight countries (Slovenia, Slovakia, Honduras, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Germany, Ecuador), Members of the House of Lords and House of Commons of the UK Parliament; and representatives of business, academic and Christian organizations, and their spouses. Our group visited Kutaisi, Borjomi, Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Kvareli and Tbilisi and, thus, was able to discover Georgia’s history, culture and its economic and business opportunities. This trip was a phenomenal success and proved to be the best example of Public Diplomacy, further promoting Georgia as a popular destination; • I am proud to have initiated and planned the first Georgian Season in the UK that will present a series of events unveiling the rich Georgian culture, history and modernity throughout 2020; • Last but not least, after 28 years since the re-establisment of diplomatic relations between Georgia and the UK, the Georgian Embassy finally has its own home at Pimlico, 20 St. George Square, which is also very symbolic, as England and Georgia share the same patron Saint: St. George! We all agree that Diplomacy is about promoting our national interests, but above all it’s about building bridges between our peoples. And it this regard, I am very proud of more than 30 years of dynamic cooperation between the Twinned cities of Bristol and Tbilisi, and Newport and Kutaisi; an increased number of Georgian students in UK universities, more academic exchanges and Georgian language courses at Oxford and UCL, exchanges in sports like rugby, when the England rugby team invited the Georgian Lelos for joint exercises to learn more about their famous strong scrum! In addition, during the last years,

low-cost flights between Kutaisi and London and Georgian Airways TbilisiLondon flights have greatly contributed to the 35% annual increase of British tourism to Georgia, not to mention the Khachapuri mania, that reached the UK as well! When I reflect on UK-Georgia relations, I am encouraged by the great progress, but there are some attainable goals remaining. As the UK is committed to remaining a strong contributor to European security, I hope for a timely decision about the UK’s enhanced engagement in Georgia after Brexit, including reintroduction of the position of Special Envoy for Conflict Resolution. We also look forward to the timely appointment of the new Trade Envoy to Georgia to foster trade and investment ties with Georgia, ranked 7th in the world for Ease of Doing Business by the WB (Mark Pritchard, MP did great job in that position in the last two years!) Another goal is to get visa procedures simplified and rationalized to encourage more cultural, business and educational exchanges. Finally, I look forward to the day when we can organize a big exposition of the Georgian culture at the British Museum as well as introduce the fantastic Georgian National Dance Sukhishvili company to the UK audience! It might sound like an Oscar acceptance speech, but I wish to express appreciation and gratitude to many people for their respective contributions to UK– Georgia relations. My heartfelt thanks go not only to British and Georgian officials in the Government and Parliament, but also to diplomatic colleagues, and many, many friends from various sectors, business, educational and cultural institutions. In the last four years, I have been blessed with great friendship and support of the Georgian community in the UK, includ-

ing the Georgian Orthodox Church, Georgian schools, dance group, business chamber, the British-Georgian Society, and many others. Collectively and individually, they represent a great asset for our societies and countries. As we all know, more than in many professions, diplomacy is a team effort. So I want to say a huge "Thank You" to my great Embassy team, who have helped me immensely and with passion to move UK-Georgia relations forward. I hope I have been a good boss and that you will remember me as a friend. And finally, my successful mission in London would not have been possible without the strong support of my family: my dear husband, who has been shuttling between Tbilisi and London all this time, my son back home, my daughter, a final years’ student of the Westminster University, and my dear father, who is very proud of my achievements. I am leaving my position but not leaving London. It is a great honor to continue my work as the Permanent Representative of Georgia at the International Maritime Organization, a job I enjoyed hugely in the last four years in parallel with my bilateral portfolio. We made great progress in promoting Georgia as an emerging Black Sea country with great maritime potential, committed to the international rules-based system. There is intensive work ahead to organize Georgia’s 3rd International Maritime Forum, GIMF2020, in Batumi (September 15-17), as well as to further activate all dimensions of our maritime diplomacy. I hope the old new page will be as adventurous and fulfilling, if not more so. Finally, my special thank you and high appreciation to Georgia Today for its continued interest and excellent presentation of the UK-Georgia strategic partnership during the last four years. I’m looking forward to continuing that close cooperation in future.

How Much Does a 4-Member Family Need to Survive in Georgia? Continued from page 1 Geostat data also reads that the average monthly income per person last year was GEL 264.3 ($93.56). To note, monetary income includes hired labor, self-employment, and money received from the sale of agricultural produce, pensions, remittances, etc. Accordingly, if the median income of a four-member household (pension, remittance, self-employment, etc.) is GEL 264.3 per person, a family of four needs GEL 834.8 ($295.50) to cover

consumer spending. Therefore, even if three middle-income people are working in the family, the income would be less than the monthly consumer expenses. Last year, the average monthly earnings in Georgia increased by 91.6 GEL ($32.42) and amounted to GEL 1,217 ($430.80). The best-paid jobs in Georgia, according to Geostat, are: • Construction - GEL 2,008 ($710.80) per month; • Information and communication – GEL 1,958 ($693.10);

• Professional, scientific and technical activities – GEL 1,936 ($685.31); • Financial and insurance activities – GEL 1,898 ($671.86). The national statistics also read that in QIV 2019, the unemployment rate in Georgia decreased by 1.4 percentage points compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, and equaled 10.9%. Moreover, in 2019, the economically active population constituted 61.7% of the working age population aged 15 and older. In comparison to 2018, both the

economic activity rate and the employment rate decreased by 1.9 and 0.8 percentage point, respectively. The unemployment rate is much lower in rural than in urban settlements. In QIV 2019, the unemployment rate in urban settlements was reduced by 2.5 percentage points compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, while in rural settlements - by 0.1 percentage point. Traditionally, in Georgia the unemployment rate is higher for men than for

women. In QIV 2019, the indicator was 2.4 percentage points higher for men compared to the corresponding indicator for women. In addition, in comparison to the same quarter of the previous year, the unemployment rate decreased for both women and men by 1.4 and 1.6 percentage points, respectively. However, the QIV 2019 activity rate for women was 53.0%, and for men 71.5%. The employment rate for women decreased by 1.6 percentage points, while it remained the same for men, compared to QIV 2018.




FEBRUARY 25 - 27, 2020

Georgia & the Geopolitics of Coronavirus OP-ED BY EMIL AVDALIANI


he coronavirus story is a good example that in an increasingly interconnected world, even diseases can have shocking economic effects and even result in geopolitical reverberations globally. The implications could be of very different magnitude, ranging from purposeful disinformation (willingness to spread incorrect information to harm relations between two specific states), to economic troubles affecting certain sectors of a State. Indeed, there is a high possibility of economic problems for countries affected by the virus. For example, according to Bloomberg, by the end of January 2020, fear of the virus cost stock markets $1,5 trillion, far exceeding the damage caused to the global economy from the trade war the US and China waged in 2019, which stands at roughly $1 trillion. The virus has also lead to the closure of air and train connectivity between China and many countries worldwide. This too adds to economic troubles, as fewer people are willing to travel to China or other affected states for tourist or small/medium business affairs. While the exact numbers of economic loss are yet to be published, it is clear

that the global economy is suffering, China more than most. The outbreak of the virus is happening amid an economic slowdown in China and in the industrial center itself, Wuhan province. Nevertheless, this is not irreparable damage, and the virus is unlikely to produce devastating results for the whole of China’s economy. A scenario where the Chinese and world economy could be deeply affected is if the virus reaches an epidemic level. Then, world supply chains could be damaged, in turn undermining the entire global economy. What the spread of virus showed China is rather problems and divisions in the realm of geopolitics. While many states have reacted to the news of coronavirus by swiftly limiting train and air connections with China, Beijing reciprocated with criticism that many measures were unnecessary and unwarranted. In a way, the story of the virus and the subsequent international reaction heightened fears and concerns within the Chinese political elite on how negatively China is perceived by many political circles in the world. What is more likely is that the travel bans will do greater harm to smaller states. For instance, with Georgia stopping air and potentially land traffic with Iran (where the virus has already caused the death of several people) and China, the tourist sector of the Georgian economy could be affected. Here, too, the depth of the problem may not be large,

Image by Byambasuren Byamba-ochir | AFP | Getty Images

but it shows how the Georgian economy, despite its small scale, is integrated into the world supply chains. The spread of the virus also shows how widespread xenophobia is today. Many similarities can be found with the 2014 Ebola crisis, which resulted in racism directed to the African continent. These

xenophobic reactions reflect divisions which exist in modern geopolitics, where the rise of China is deeply feared in many parts of the world. Thus, in an increasingly interconnected world, a disease could produce unthinkable results. For Georgia, it means that it is most likely that the spread of the

virus will not be stopped at the borders of the country. There might even be a certain death toll, but, overall, the spread of the virus will be limited. Second, the drop in numbers of Iranian and Chinese tourists to Georgia will likely produce a limited shock to an always vulnerable Georgian economy.

Who Cares about the Bull & Bear in Georgia? OP-ED BY NUGZAR B. RUHADZE


hat do you call Georgia’s economic system today? Is it serfdom or slavery? Of course neither! Those might be observed only in sporadic criminal cases, if any at all, and in the movies. Is it feudalism, then? Certainly not, but one can find some residuals of it in rural areas of the country, especially in mountainous locations. Is it socialism? No, not anymore, although it has maintained certain socialist trends, gradually disappearing at an indefinite rate. Is it capitalism? Yes, it looks like it, but not completely. One can sooner identify the indigenous economic system in Georgia as the combination of all three: crony, patrimonial and wild capitalism. By classic definition, in crony capitalism, it is not the supremacy of risk but the ties between businesses and political class that defines economic success as a result of amassing capital thanks to those contacts that are being propped up by various managing authorizations, tax breaks and state grants. In patrimonial capitalism, wealth is handed down from one generation to the next, which is like pure economic atavism, perpetuating a steady income for a bunch of chosen favorites of fortune. In wild capitalism, inventive and pioneering practices are usually subdued and muted,

Photo by Bulat Silvia/Getty Images

thus curbing the best economic, political, and social standards, serving the people, finally triggering numerous detrimental consequences for the entire nation. Our species of capitalism has its own pretext, which has caused the present developmental picture: right at the dusk of socialism and at the dawn of capitalism, most of the formerly state-owned and now privatized enterprises were either out of commission or working by fits and starts with a minimum of business ethics, corroborating the irrefutable

truth that the liberalization of labor and acquisition of the right of private ownership alone, right after the fall of communism, would not solve the national economic problem successfully and to the best benefit of the country. Thus, we all know that we are living in capitalism but none of us has the explicit feeling that this was what we dreamt of when we were hurrying to take apart the soviet giant. The frustrating result of the weird finale of our fight against socialism in favor of capitalism could be adorned with a number of

examples that are handy and vivid. In the countries of developed capitalism, like America and the European frontrunners, almost everybody is looking at the movement of stocks and securities on a daily basis because this is the main achievement of their type of capitalism – a regular guy in the street has a bigger or smaller investment in his or her country’s economy, thus he tries to be well versed in the market that gets bullish at times or bearish every now and then. Who cares in Georgia about those bulls and bears, except those lucky well-to-do

ones who have certain financial interests either in local businesses or ones beyond the borders? A rank-and-file in Georgia might not even know there is an economic recession happening, unless the economic experts or commentators, with their big mouths and heads, inform the public that it is. Who would give a dime here to the economic truth that the standard of living is guaranteed only by long-run economic growth, and if we are speaking about short-run growth, then we have to know that it depends on business cycles defining the possibility of economic expansion or economic recession. On the other hand, is the economic logic of business cycles at work in our reality at all? “Business cycle” is not a funny word or strange economic phenomenon, but most of us wouldn’t care about its coming or going, whereas in the countries of real capitalism, the public wants to be in the swim of economic matters at all times. In Georgia, we only want to have politics for breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper. That’s the way it is here. Do we care what the cycles are driven by? Of course not! Business cycles depend on how much we the consumers and the businesses spend day in day out, and also, on the way we are looking at the future. Here is a plain formula: no spending, no cycles! No cycles, no growth! No growth, no life! It is as simple as that. How do I know? From bulky books on economics! Why am I interested? To find the key to my better standard of living!




Platforma Design Hotel- Bringing Art into a Fancy Hotel Life Our restaurant is distinguished with its broad selection of wines. As a Georgian originally from Kakheti, I make no secret of the importance I attach to wine in general. It is critical to pair dishes with the right wines, because every wine has its own distinctive aroma that makes a dish more refined and more delicious. Georgian tradition has always elevated the vine to an iconic symbol of endurance, regeneration and prosperity. Platform’s restaurant Idiala is designed to provide the best of experiences for wine-lovers.



latforma Hotel was opened in 2019 following two years’ of construction. It stands out with its distinctive interior design, including walls that are embellished with manifold and multiform works of art; a beautiful mixture of paintings by legendary artists with the more state-of-the-art, street-style aesthetic. The hotel is situated in one of Tbilisi’s historical areas, next to Gudiashvili Square, which has retained its pristine look and some of Tbilisi’s unique architectural masterpieces. Irakli Abashidze and Dimitri Shapakidze designed the hotel, being among the country’s leading architects. The façade, which represents a fusion of classical and modern architectural patterns, epitomizes a merger between the city’s past and present. No two rooms are alike at Platforma, as a group of local artists were handpicked to transform each of the hotel’s rooms into livable works of art. The hotel’s cuisine offers a unique variety of Georgian traditional dishes. Guests can also choose from a broad selection of Georgian wines, and they are welcome to taste various brands and types. But the hotel’s most charming feature is its serene backyard, ensconced between brick walls constructed in the traditional Georgian style to provide a place where you can decompress and rest in the open air. To learn more about this standout venue and to find out why it is a must-stay for

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN THE CULINARY ARTS? The kitchen is like a living organism where you can’t afford to make mistakes. Even a tiny detail can mess everything up. It is important to work with the right mindset; with the right approach to each dish. The key to success in cookery is having the right mindset.

travelers to Georgia, GEORGIA TODAY decided to talk to the Head Chef, Giorgi Potskhverashvili.

WHERE DOES YOUR LOVE FOR THE CULINARY ARTS COME FROM? Since my childhood, I’ve always been interested in cooking, often helping my dad to process meat and cheese. I decided to take professional courses in cooking and started participating in masterclasses, training events, and other activities and, before I knew it, I was offered my first job at the Nikala Restaurant, which ranked among the top restaurants in town at

that time. I should give credit to Malkhaz Maisashvili, who taught me the art of cooking and helped me understand that cooking is more than just making food. Indeed, it is real art where you can unleash your power of imagination and emotions. Cookery became a part of my life, which I shared with my two brothers; so, all three of us are now involved in it. It became a kind of family tradition.

HOW DID YOU COME TO PLATFORMA HOTEL’S RESTAURANT IDIALIA? The Restaurant Idialia was still being renovated when I was offered a job there.

I was really interested in their concept, so I grabbed the chance. We designed and set up the kitchen together and decided to focus on Georgian cuisine. Why promote the cuisines of other countries when we have so much potential to renew and refine the Georgian one? I believe we need to appreciate and preserve both the Georgian cuisine and wines. In restaurant Idilia, every dish is special. I leave it to our guests and their taste to evaluate our efforts.


WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE GOALS? Going forward, my plans are all about wine. I’m really keen to start producing my own homemade wine and, in doing so, to contribute to advancing Georgian cookery and winemaking. *** Though Platforma has only been open since 2019, it has already set a new benchmark for hotel design and immaculate service. If you want to stay in a high-class hotel that, thanks to colorful, floor-toceiling artwork across the property, feels like an art installation in itself, book yourself a stay in Platforma.

Georgian TV Advertising Market Down by 10% in 2019 BY TEA MARIAMIDZE


he TV advertising market shrank by 10% in Georgia last year and amounted to GEL 67.97 ($24.06) million, according to statistics released by the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) last week. GNCC reports that during 2019, the size of the Georgian television advertising market decreased by GEL 7.7 million ($2.73 m), mainly connected to a 27% decrease in Rustavi 2 advertising revenue in QIV 2019. As a result, Imedi TV topped the advertising market, earning GEL 26.7 ($9.45) million from commercial advertising in 2019. Imedi was followed by TV station Pirveli, which attracted GEL 3.9 ($1.38) million in 2019 from advertising, and Silknet with GEL 2.6 ($0.92) million. In 4th place on the list is TV station Main Channel, which started active broadcasting in the fourth quarter of 2019. The channel's advertising revenue was GEL 2.4 ($0.85) million. In 2019, television advertising revenue was distributed as follows: 1. TV Imedi - 26,707,501 GEL, a 3% increase compared to 2018; 2. Rustavi 2 - 22,133,956 GEL, a decrease of 27%; 3. TV Pirveli - 3,802,871 GEL, 18% growth; 4. Silknet - 2,618,284 GEL, 12% increase; 5. Main Channel - 2,447,351 GEL;

6. GDS TV - 1,839,936 GEL, an increase of 22%; 7. Georgian Public Broadcaster 1,420,479 GEL, a 51% decrease; 8. Setanta Georgia - 1,072,101 GEL, a 2% growth; 9. Palitra TV - 566,583 GEL, an increase of 324%; 10. TV 25 - 528,447 GEL; 9%; 11. Studio Pulse - 373,812 GEL; 12. Kavkasia TV - 322,247 GEL, a decrease of 36%; 13. Studio Maestro - 302,368 GEL, a decrease of 30%. In QIV last year, television advertising revenue was distributed as follows: • Imedi TV - 9,891,702.51 GEL • Rustavi 2 - 5,009,224.00 GEL • Main Channel - 2,426,619.30 GEL • TV Pirveli - 1,423,321.00 GEL • Public Broadcaster - 656,171.18 GEL • Silknet - 614,660.89 GEL • GDS TV - 600,787.79 GEL • Setanta Georgia - 277,271.35 GEL • RBJ - Rs 143,408.50 • TV 25 - 133,989.90 GEL • Trialeti TV and Radio Company 123,235.52 GEL • Studio Pulse - 86,964.37 GEL • Kvemo Kartli TV and Radio Company - 84,860.00 GEL • Maestro Studio - 118,025.00 GEL • Palette TV - 158,902.45 GEL • Rugby TV - 96,649.00 GEL • Obiektivi - 70,000.00 GEL • Caucasus TV - 64,241.13 GEL • Rioni TV and Radio Company 47,791.94 GEL • Independent TV and Radio Company in Odishi - 32,784.75 GEL

Image source: directresponsemedia.com.au

• Other - 431,697.56 GEL "In the fourth quarter of 2019, only the broadcasting company Rustavi 2 had a significant decrease in advertising. In particular, Rustavi 2 received 7,336,934 less income from advertising in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to the same period of 2018,” the GNCC stated. Television advertising is a span of television programming produced and paid for by an organization. It conveys a message promoting a product or service. Advertising revenue provides a significant portion of the funding for most privately owned television networks. To note, Maestro, Imedi and Rustavi 2 TV companies accumulated $55 million

in debt to the state in 2016-2019 in unpaid tax. Last week, Finance Minister Ivane Machavariani said in parliament that the TV stations had submitted proposals to pay off their existing debts on a 5-year schedule. “Unfortunately, there is a tradition in our country that large television channels avoid paying the declared taxes,” the Minister noted, adding that tax avoidance reduced budget revenues and significantly hampered the development of relatively small television channels. “Last year, we publicly explained to the television stations that we were not going to continue such practices, and

demanded that everyone pay their current taxes,” Machavariani said. The Minister noted that there is active communication with the TV companies, adding the largest ones who owe the State tax will pay off their debts over 5 years, as requested by these companies. Machavariani said this schedule will allow TV companies to continue broadcasting while fully covering their tax liabilities. “It is important to put all business entities on equal conditions. By fully paying the current taxes to the State, all broadcasters will be put in an equal competitive environment for the first time, which will eventually lead to unified rules in the market,” Machavariani said.




FEBRUARY 25 - 27, 2020

Gudauri Lodge- A Hotel that Beats Expectations jams, and fresh juices with diversified and rare ingredients, among others. One can watch the chef in the open kitchen, making pancakes for you to then choose toppings for: chocolate or fruit, or both. The hotel’s concept is further embellished by the sterling Culinarium Khasheria, a signature restaurant offering Georgian traditional gastronomy at its best, prepared with only fresh and locally produced ingredients. Besides the delicious breakfast opportunities, Culinarium Khasheria features a menu of outstanding dishes, one of the greatest specialties being the traditional Georgian dish ‘Piquant Khashi’. One can delight oneself with the best dinner at Gudauri Lodge as you sit on the terrace and enjoy the stunning views of Gudauri's snowy peaks. When mountains and legendary Georgian hospitality come together, they create a new concept of lifestyle: a premium quality holiday retreat. When you’re in a high-standard hotel

like Gudauri Lodge, you know that the bar will be a stunner. At the sophisticated Apres Ski Bar, one can enjoy a diverse assortment of drinks and snacks. Enoteca, with more than 150 unique samples of premium-quality Georgian wine, is also there to delight guests. After taking it all in, head to the fancy relaxation area with its steam room, spa, indoor swimming pool, outdoor hot tub, dry sauna and well-equipped gym. The hotel lobby also features some interesting spaces. Brimming with comfort, soft lighting, a vivid color palette and delicately slanted wooden details, the lobby also features a Concept Store that houses a myriad of interesting items. The Ski Depot offers hotel clients storage, high-quality maintenance and rental of all the latest equipment. Gudauri Lodge is a true combination of all the details that make a winter holiday comfortable and distinguished. Moreover, it is a hotel that exceeds all expectations.



ocated in one of Georgia’s most cherished winter resorts, Gudauri Lodge is one of the country’s most anticipated openings this year. This skiin/ski-out hotel offers striking panoramic views of Gudauri and is nestled next to the first ski slope; featuring 121 comfortable guest rooms of four categories. The design and character of the venue perfectly match its location, offering a unique symbiosis of the old Tbilisi architecture and modern minimalist design. Inside Gudauri Lodge, it’s all beautifully geometric, with tricolor wood paneling, oversized windows and sculptural fireplaces to make a minimalist haven. Breakfast makes an important start to the day, especially at a mountain resort. Breakfast at Gudauri Lodge meets all the criteria for a fresh start, even for the most demanding vacationers. The healthy choices include freshly baked bread and

5 Reasons to Visit Area Expo 2020 – The Largest Real Estate Expo ADVERTORIAL


rea Expo 2020, Georgia’s largest real estate exhibition-sale, will take place on April 4-5 at the Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace. Area Group is holding the event for the third time in Tbilisi. Area Expo is a platform where Georgian developers and financial institutions presented on the Georgian market gather in one space to provide those interested in real estate access to diverse products and financial resources. Here are 5 main reasons why you should not miss out on this event: 1. Easy to choose and even easier to make the right decision. Property purchase is a complicated and time-consuming process. This is especially true on the Georgian real estate market, as the alternatives are distinctive and wide in range. The development sector takes almost 10% of the country’s GDP, thus presenting one of the leaders in the economic sector in Georgia. Area Expo was created with the main idea to ease the purchasing process of property in Georgia by gathering construction and development companies in one space over two days every year, with special offers for real estate buyers. At the same time, the event promotes real estate market possibilities countrywide and supports development companies to increase their brand awareness. It is extremely easy and flexible for

both sides to meet in one space and enjoy face-to-face negotiations. Banks are also able to present themselves and provide accurate information about financial resources and the conditions of mortgages. 2. Accurate source of information for the trends of the Georgian real estate market. Are you interested in keeping an eye on real estate market development in Georgia? Or are you planning to make an investment or starting a business in this field? Then Area Expo is the event

you should visit first. Here, you will find accurate information on how the market is developing; what the main trends and the concepts are; what the demands for property and categories of product are, and more! What’s more, the Business Forum on April 4 on the latest trends and innovations in the development sector will guide you to the latest news and market expectations of the Georgian real estate sector. 3. Source of useful information to choose the right property wisely. One of the main reasons property pur-

chase is complicated is the lack of useful information on how to find a property that fits your needs in the best way; and on what the components are that we need to pay attention to before we make a decision. Have you bought a property for economic activity such as renting out for additional income? Or maybe you are looking for advice to keep coziness at home and also want to know more about modern trends in design? Find answers to these and more questions from experts in the field on April 5, the second day of Area Expo. Seminars

and workshops are organized under the supervision of marketer.ge, who gathers field experts to share their valuable insight. 4. Networking and contacts – networking and business contacts are how we build and develop a successful business. If you’re active in the real estate sector in Georgia, then Area Expo is for youhelping you make exciting partnerships and to network with colleagues, potential partners and contacts to develop your business further. This is an event gathering the main players on the real estate market, investors, business associates, real estate brokers, architects and renovation companies and their representatives in one space. 5. Area Expo as a festival and huge twoday sales event in real estate in Georgia The main reason you should not miss out on Area Expo is the real estate exhibition and sales, offering you the chance to benefit from discounts and special offers provided by participant developers. Confidently and easily select the property that meets your needs and benefit from special offers. Feel special: you are a welcome guest at the event. Attendance is free of charge, but registration is required, via: www.areaexpo. ge Join us at the Sheraton Grand Metekhi Palace for the Area Expo on April 4-5, 2020. Area Expo represents an annual exhibition-sale, an exhibition likewise interesting for those who want to find information about the real estate market and to study it.




Beeline Conducts User Experience Research with Medallia in Digital Channels BY MARIAM MERABISHVILI


eeline, a member of the international group VEON, has added customer experience research to its digital channels. The worldrenowned online platform Medallia has been integrated into the Beeline website and MyBeeline application. Customers can now fill out a short questionnaire to evaluate Beeline digital channels and send advice as comments. Beeline first introduced the worldrenowned tool for understanding its customer demands, behavior and habits – Medallia, in Georgia in 2018. It has

been in active use ever since. The Customer Satisfaction Survey starts from the very first day of becoming a customer - with a simple survey sent via SMS. The conditions of the products and the experience gained of being a customer, as well as the quality of the call center and in-store services, are evaluated. An independent function explores Beeline's customer experience and is designed to improve customer service and customer satisfaction. “Consumer behavior is constantly and rapidly changing,” says Beeline CX Manager Marika Chabukiani. “To satisfy them, it is no longer enough to solve existing problems or offer products and services based on past experience. Customer Experience (CX) leaders need to ‘already

Marika Chabukiani, CX manager, Beeline

today’ determine what experiences they want to create for their clients ‘tomorrow,’ and be ready to meet their expectations”. “For the customer experience survey, Beeline has been using the world-

renowned platform Medallia for almost two years,” she adds. “‘Satisfaction with digital channels’ has been added this year to ‘product conditions’ and ‘experience gained through use’, as well as quality assessment of call center and

in-store services. This means Beeline has launched a survey of users of the MyBeeline app and website to determine the customer experience to further refine and improve its digital channels”.

‘Bricks Hotel’ - A Brand New Hotel in the Heart of Tbilisi discover both the old and new parts of the city within minutes. In front of the hotel, you can find the ruins of the Avlabari wall built in the 18th century. The remnants of these historic walls give the hotel a truly unique look. Bricks Hotel offers various category rooms, including Standard Double Rooms, Triple Rooms and Deluxe Rooms with terraces. Most of the hotel’s rooms offer stunning views, some of which have exceptional terraces that will give its fortunate guests a stunning vantage point from which to view the soul of the city. Each room is equipped with outstanding amenities, thus offering the highest standards of comfort. “Bricks Hotel offers high quality, affordable prices and the best customer service, which we believe will make our guests' tripunforgettable,”saidIrakliMotsonelidze, Operations Manager of Bricks Hotels. For meetings and conferences, the hotel



fter a year of waiting, Tbilisi is getting set to welcome an exciting newcomer onto the Old Tbilisi hotel scene. ‘Bricks Hotel,’ a 36-room

hotel located in the very heart of the city, is now accepting reservations. Bricks Hotel is housed within a modern four-storey building on Wine Rise Street, in one of the most exciting areas of Tbilisi, where you can find the historical monuments included on the List of Cultural Heritage, as well as the main sights of Tbilisi and the old part of the city,

surrounded by beautiful Georgian houses. Bricks Hotel is the ideal starting point for walking to attractions such as the Metekhi Church, the Bridge of Peace, the Narikala Fortress, the Sameba Cathedral, the Armenian Church, and the Sioni Cathedral. The hotel is also conveniently located just 100 meters from Avlabari Metro Station, which helps tourists to

offers a refined and flexible meeting space which is ideal for workshops, training, and presentations, promising clients an environment that encourages the process of creative thought. Bricks Hotel also offers city tours, airport shuttle, buffet breakfast, and free wireless internet - providing guests with the superior comfort and utmost value they want out of their stay. A strong commitment to providing creative, healthy and quality food and drink is another one of the hallmarks of Bricks Hotel. The hotel features a rooftop terrace, which offers a luxurious 360° panorama view across the old city, as well as Bricks Restaurant, which serves both local and European cuisine. At this pet-friendly hotel, guests will appreciate the warm hospitality and exceptional value. So, if you are planning to visit Tbilisi, Bricks Hotel awaits!




FEBRUARY 25 - 27, 2020

Penalties to Rise for Construction Waste Pollution


he extent of penalties for environmental pollution caused by construction waste are set to increase through amendments to the Waste Management Code, initiated by MPs Goga Gulordava and Sulkhan Makhatadze. According to the draft law, waste of up to one cubic meter of construction or other inert waste will result in the fining of a physical person with 500 GEL instead of 200 GEL; and a legal entity with 2000 GEL instead of 500 GEL.

“Under this section, the fine imposed on physical persons is threefold, while a doubled fine is to be imposed on legal persons. This arrangement was conditioned by the fact that more individuals are committing this type of offence," the MPs explain. In the event of any environmental degradation of construction or other inert waste of 10 to 50 cubic meters, a physical person will be fined 5000 GEL and a legal entity 15,000 GEL. These changes will be initiated at Thursday's sitting of the Parliament Bureau.

Govt' Plans to Sell Former Parliament Building in Kutaisi



he Government of Georgia plans to sell the former parliament building in Kutaisi. Reportedly, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development is working on the issue of alienation of the building, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia, announced Thursday. “We are going to sell the Kutaisi Parliament building. The Ministry of Economy has already started on the process. Kutaisi will soon become a huge educational center, much more important to the city than Parliament. What could and what should the future of Kutaisi be? Education, medicine, logistics etc, not just parliament,” he said. The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development intends to privatize the non-functioning

building. However, at this stage, its price is not known. The former Parliament building was built in 20102012 in Kutaisi, traditionally the second most important city of Georgia, 231 kilometers west of Tbilisi. More than GEL 340 million was spent on its construction at the initiative of then-President Mikheil Saakashvili. The building was inaugurated on 26 May 2012 and, in accordance with the respective constitutional clause, became the main seat of the newly elected Parliament in October 2012 until the legislature moved back to Tbilisi in January 2019. The government, during the building's construction, promoted it as a symbol of Georgia's bright, democratic future. After Saakashvili's term in office expired, the new government of the Georgian Dream coalition decided to move all parliamentary activities back to Tbilisi.




Georgian Wines & Spirits – A Georgian Wine Fan in the United States


he process of introducing Georgian wine to the world is ongoing. More and more people around the globe are trying to become the ambassadors of Georgian Wine. Georgian Wines and Spirits (GWS) is one company among them, facilitating the process of popularizing Georgian wine, and it is becoming a “big player” on the market. Georgian Wines and Spirits is also telling the world about ancient Georgian traditions. The company was founded in 2009, but conditioned by the increase of interest in Georgian wine, during the past two years, Georgian Wines and Spirits has been especially active. “We aim to give Georgian wine a well-deserved place on the American market, a place next to French and Italian wine,” founder and sommelier Ucha Tsiklauri told Entrepreneur. “To make that happen, we go door to door of hotels and restaurants. We present Georgian wine at the US wine

festivals, and we introduce it to everyone. Simultaneously, we are closely partnered with Georgian companies and Georgian winemakers, to improve and sometimes protect wine quality”. Since the American market does not know Georgian wine well, the company’s strategy from the very beginning was to present the wine at its best. “Georgian wine is little-known to Americans,” Ucha notes. “The majority tried Georgian wine back when wines of very low-quality, or unknown origin, were imported to the US. That continues to be a problem to this day. So, we have to face and overcome many challenges. We have a team of very professional sommeliers. We brought them to Georgia and presented the unique Georgian wine to them on the spot”. Now, Georgian Wines and Spirits is exclusively partnered with Askaneli Brothers, a company that, as they say, produces extraordinarily good wine and has a progressive approach towards the wine industry.

“Knowing how to make wine does not mean you know how to the business, though,” Ucha says. “Everything matters here – the quality control, the point of view, keeping the authentic character while synthesizing traditional and contemporary ways. Askaneli Brothers know how to manage all of that. However, the American market differs a lot from the Russian and post-Soviet markets. We have already brought Georgian wine to Hotel Delano, which belongs to Madonna, and to three restaurants of the famous American restaurateur Stephen Starr. Also, you’ll spot Askaneli Brothers ‘Mukuzani’ on the menu of Chef Makoto and in the Marriott hotels. We can sum it up by saying that the US Sommelier Association now starts their Sommelier Masterclass by presenting the wine of Askaneli Brothers”. The company and the team behind it can proudly say that they have already gotten into the depths of the American market, from Boston to Miami and the territory of California. The outcome is clear, and it is evident that Americans are fans of Georgian wine, though they still don’t know it too well. For them to become more aware of the Georgian wine, it is crucial to unite the powers of different sectors and start a big marketing campaign to position Georgian wine on the market. The company team believes that it is very important to use the current situation of Georgian wine in the United States correctly. “The American President has increased tariffs on EU wines and he threatens that it will go even higher. This is exactly the time for us to try and

substitute the European wines. Of course, at this point we cannot compete with Chateau Margot and Chateau Obrien, but if, in the future, there are stands in the wine shops with Georgian written on them, and Georgian wine is as popular as they are, then we will have a hope that in time other famous wines will have to step down and make way for he Georgian wine,” Ucha says. On the way to reaching that goal, with the company team’s tireless efforts, Georgian wine is being honorably presented on the American market in an ongoing process. The team is united over the spirit of leaving behind for the next generations something to be extremely proud of, like the older generations did with the traditions of making Georgian wine. This motivation is something that gives them their energy. Georgian Wines and Spirits has done a tremendous job to get where they are today. However, everything is just beginning. The company has big hopes for the future and plans huge leaps forward. They believe that to raise awareness of Georgian wine, it is important to have high-quality wines and have them in the right place, at the right time. That is why they pay tremendous attention to the issue. Georgian Wines and Spirits is ready to consult with any company and maker of Georgian wine who wishes to enter and settle in the American market. “We are open to help anyone in whatever way we can. Contact us,” the GWS founder says. First published by Entrepeneur Georgia.


Georgian Artist’s Works to be Exhibited Next to Modigliani in Paris


he works of the Paris-based Georgian art talent Elene Shatberashvili will be exhibited at the Tajan Gallery in Paris on February 25. ‘Portraits Forever’ is an exhibition whereby the creations of ancient and modern artists come together in one space. It is noteworthy that Elene’s paintings will be showcased together with the artistic geniuses like Amadeo Modigliani. Tajan gallery hosts innovative cultural events and brings together all those who create, defend and love art: artists, collectors, curators and gallerists. “Our ‘Portraits Forever’ exhibition takes a historical approach to portraiture, starting with Old Masters, such as Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, continuing into Modernism including Picabia and leading to Contemporary artists. The portrait is the artist’s ultimate test because it requires the complete blending of exterior visual

imagery with the expression of people’s innermost personal feelings. A successful portrait fuses seemlessly artistic and conceptual mastery and is an absolute celebration of painting”, reads the presentation of the exhibition on Tajan’s official website. Interested persons can view the works of the Georgian artist at the Tajan Gallery on February 25. Elene’s paintings will also be on display on February 29 at Leipzig International Aigen Art Gallery. The exhibition, titled "J'aime, je n'aime pas", features six young artists. “Both exhibitions are her first after graduation. In general, any exhibition is a stage where you learn about other people's thoughts; you get a chance to view your work from different angles, to temporarily stand away from it. This allows you to better evaluate where you are going, to see new directions, as well as mistakes,” says Shatberashvili.



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Profile for Georgia Today

Issue #1230 Business  

February 25 - 27, 2020

Issue #1230 Business  

February 25 - 27, 2020