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UTG not to increase fees

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, January 8
United Telecom of Georgia has changed its plans to increase its monthly fee for phone service users in Tbilisi, Gigi Ugulava, the Tbilisi Mayor, told journalists on Tuesday. Ugulva said the decision not to increase the subscription fee from the current GEL 5 to GEL 8 was made jointly after consultations with the Georgian National Communications Commission, United Telecom Georgia (UTG) and Parliament.

Ugulava said Telecom’s initial decision was “unjustified”. “Increasing the subscription fee from GEL 5 to GEL 8 was a totally unjustified decision. This “New Year present” from UTG was based on nothing,” the Mayor said. Ugulava also criticized UTG for not making the decision about the price rise “more public”, saying that these kinds of decisions should be made “ publicly, taking into account the views of competent people.” “People should not be hearing information about a price increase from TV,” Ugulava noted.

UTG was planning to increase its tariff for fixed-line phone service users in Tbilisi from January 2009. The Labour Party protested against the rise on Monday, saying that the company was simply “robbing the people” and threatening to blockade the Communication Regulation Commission (CRC) building if the decision was not rescinded. The Marketing Manager of UTG Goga Kipiani commented that the fee rise had advantages as well as disadvantages. He told The Messenger on Monday that although customers would have to pay more, a “number of new services would be included in the charge.”

Tbilisi residents are happy about the restoration of the existing telephone service fee. 42-year-old accountant Eka Abdushelishvili said that she had heard about the fee rise yesterday when standing in line to pay communal fees. “I was upset to hear that I would have to pay more, and the people around me were angry too,” she said. “But today I heard on TV that Georgian Telecom has changed its decision, and I am happy about that,” Abdushelishvili added.