Friday, July 20, 2007, #137 (1404)

Cash Registers Are a No Sale, Say Bazroba Merchants
By Ana Datiashvili

Opposition member Jondi
Baghaturia protests mandatory
use of cash registers

Merchants from several area markets gathered in front of parliament Thursday, to protest regulations forcing them to use cash registers in their stalls.

Traders from Lilo’s Bazroba [market] organized the demonstration, with representatives from the Railway Gypsy Bazroba and the Rustavi Bazroba joining in.

Opposition politicians from the Labor Party and Kartuli Dasi [Georgian Troupe] were present, as well as representatives from several NGOs.

Protests began on July 13 at the Lilo Bazroba, when dozens of merchants spoke against the state administration’s move to require cash registers for market transactions.

They would prefer a flat monthly fee, merchants said, over cash registers. Labor Party representatives chipped in support for the protestors.

“I want to call on the government and ask Misha Machavariani, the majoritarian MP of this district, to stand next to these people,” said Labor Party director general Ioseb Shatberashvili on July 13.

Anxious merchants said cash registers could put them out of business, as they wouldn’t be able to pay the taxes resulting from registering sales.

“It’s very difficult to work here, because our income is so small; and it will be difficult to find a way to buy these expensive cash registers,” said Leila Tchabukiani, a Lilo Bazroba trader.
On July 16, market administration announced that if merchants didn’t have cash registers the next day, they would be fined anywhere from GEL 500 to GEL 1500. Two days after the deadline, no fines had yet been given out.

“We don’t want cash registers, we’ll never have the money to buy them—we’d be working just to afford these things. We’re not going to stop our protests, we’ll move in front of parliament,” said Meri Kirvalidze, a Lilo Bazroba trader, on July 13.

As the deadline arrived, market administration promised to cover 30 percent of the GEL 370 price tag for the equipment. The administration also said it would act as guarantor for any bank loans merchants take out.
That wasn’t enough for the traders. They’ll go on strike rather than buy the cash registers, merchants announced.

Some Batumi merchants, in a show of solidarity with their Tbilisi colleagues, shut down shop for several hours Thursday.

Kartuli Dasi leader Jondi Baghaturia told the The Messenger that protests would continue until the government takes heed.

“Today six cities joined our action, people in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Zugdidi, Telavi, Tsnori were protesting this decision and hope that for tomorrow we will get something interesting and a smart answer from the government,” said Baghaturia on July 19

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