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Prepared by Diana Dundua
Friday, March 14
“David Narmania: Political processes in Georgia seriously damaged the investment environment!”

Akhali Taoba interviews economist Davit Narmania, who says Georgia enjoys a well-developed investment environment, but one that continues to suffer from problems which put off foreign investors.

“After the [2003] Rose Revolution, the government worked hard to make the investment environment attractive for foreign investors. The most important thing is that the tax system is regulated [now],” Narmania says.

Remaining problems, he says, includes a lack of guarantees for property rights.

“The recent political situation in the country has seriously damaged the investment environment, so reputable investors abstain from coming to Georgia. Mainly Asian capital is coming to the state,” the economist says.

“Georgian mineral water has a better chance to return to the Russian market”

Newly-appointed Georgian Ambassador to Russia Erosi Kitsmarishvili, according to Rezonansi, says that Georgian mineral water has a good chance of returning to the Russian market.

Russia imposed a ban on Georgian wine and mineral water in spring 2006, citing falsification and health concerns.

Kitsmarishvili says that Moscow has fewer arguments to support the trade ban on mineral water than it does for wine.

“Although, the issue of Georgian product falsification should be settled by the Georgian side itself,” Kitsmarishvili adds.

The ambassador suggests, however, that returning Georgian wine to the Russian market could endanger the quality of the product.

“Georgian wines have become popular on the world market, and an increase in quantity should not have a negative influence on quality. Georgian wine has its place on the world market, although it can never replace French wine,” Kitsmarishvili says.

“Destabilization will be a problem for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi”

Sakartvelos Respublika reports on a warning from the Georgian envoy to the UN that Russia’s decision to withdraw from the economic embargo on Abkhazia creates a danger of regional instability.

The paper cites Irakli Alasania, Georgia’s permanent representative to the UN, in writing that by leaving the trade ban agreement Russia opens the possibility of selling arms to secessionist Abkhazia and allowing its citizens to fight with Abkhaz armed forces.

“Russia’s decision creates a danger of destabilization, totally changes the situation and violates a juridical base that defines CIS peace activities in the conflict zones,” Alasania said.

He also said that regional destabilization could endanger the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian town of Sochi, just north of Abkhazia.

“Monetary assistance to IDPs will double”

As of this April, state assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) will double, Akhali Taoba reports.

In a March 12 parliament session, the minister finance said that budget changes will lop USD 24 million off the Labor Ministry’s budget and reallocate it to the State Ministry of Refugees and Resettlements.

“This money will be spent to increase monetary assistance to IDPs,” the minister said. To be more precise, from April instead of GEL 11 IDPs will receive GEL 22 per month.”