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Everything’s alright really, the authorities insist

By Shorena Labadze
Wednesday, August 27
Only God knows how much economic loss Georgia faces now and in the future - even ordinary people can’t imagine its extent, though our officials are as optimistic as ever.

During the war, ministers and their deputies, bread factory owners and other bigwigs from the vital public services appeared on TV to urge the population to believe that “everything is still very good”. Up till now, this optimism has remained the dominant tone of their pronouncements.

According to Agriculture Ministry press spokesman Bela Giorgadze there is a satisfactory bread stock in the country, though “it can’t be identified till when”. “There is no shortage for now. The local wheat crop has been added to by imported wheat and this has even caused a price decrease,” Giorgadze said. She said that price of wheat will decrease by 5-10 Tetri. According to 2008 June data, 1 kilo of wheat cost 50 tetri, whereas in 2007 its price was 40 tetri. As for the consequences of cornfields being burned by Russian aggressors, Giorgadze said that “only a small area of cornfield was burned and this won’t have any noticeable effect on the total crop”. She added that the harvest had already been gathered and the arson wouldn’t therefore create extra problems for the bread and wheat stocks of the country.

Georgia’s Finance Minister Nika Gilauri maintains that there are enough fuel stocks in the country despite the war. He also said there was enough wheat and flour as well. “During last few days Georgia’s economy has overcome many foreign shocks. This means that the economic situation is stabilized in the country,” the Finance Minister said. He added that Georgia’s budget reserves stood at GEL 18 million on August 13, “though the mean index is 15-16 million”.

On August 14 Georgia’s Commercial-Industrial Chamber announced it would provide support for any company which encountered obstacles in its working process. According to its administration, the Chamber’s key aim remains representing and protecting the interests of business circles in and outside the country.

On August 25 President Mikheil Saakashvili visited Gori to view demolished buildings and also spoke to the population. Later, at a government session in the city, he said that the coming months would be “more difficult to overcome, than the war period”. “The coming 15 months will be the period of revival and new economic direction. We must be realists, but at the same time we must take very decisive steps. The path is much more difficult than it was in the war days. We must surmount all our problems to let everyone know that we are a civilized European nation and have the right to be a successful country,” said the President.

Saakashvili seems to have hopes of widespread economic aid. “The entire world is concerned about our economy. Economic renovation needs time,” he said at an August 24 meeting with Parliamentary Bureau members. Specifically, the President said that on September 1 the Council of Europe will hold a special meeting in Paris on the initiative of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose primary purpose would be to discus ways of contributing to Georgia’s economic revitalization. “Georgia’s economy will not only be rescued, but also improve sharply. We’ll become a developed European country,” said the President.

According to experts, the loss to the Georgian economy is so immense, that just quantifying it will take a very long time. USAID considers that Georgia has lost between 1-2 billion USD.