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Russian natural gas price to increase

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Thursday, May 1
Georgia, along with some other CIS countries, will pay a higher price for Russian natural gas from 2009 onwards.

Tbilisi will pay USD 270 per 1000 cubic meters, the news agency Regnum reports, up from the current figure of USD 235. The Russian gas price for Georgia doubled in late 2006, in what Tbilisi said was a political move as relations deteriorated between the two countries.

The latest price hike will affect other former Soviet countries too. Armenia looks set to pay USD 165 per 1000 cubic meters, up from the current figure of USD 110.

Analysts say increased prices will hit consumers hard. “The biggest catastrophe is that the majority of the population is socially vulnerable and they will not be able to pay the increased cost,” the newspaper Alia quoted economist Gia Khukhashvili as saying.

He also said that the government should consider scrapping consumer taxes on natural gas and establishing different prices for companies and individual consumers.