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Georgian business seeking solutions

By Messenger Staff
Friday, April 3
The topic of financial amnesty is being speculated on by the Georgian political and business elite. This suggestion was initially made by the President of Coca-Cola Bottlers Georgia Temur Chkonia in an open letter to President Mikheil Saakashvili, Chkonia basing his arguments on the gravity of the economic situation in the country.

Experts however are rather skeptical about the idea of financial amnesty. Chkonia suggests that it would be a serious stimulus for the development of business in such a disastrous period. Former Minister of Economy and MP Professor Lado Papava however considers that a financial amnesty would destroy the financial order of the country. “The honest taxpayer will start to think that maybe he can also stop paying, accumulate liabilities and in the next cycle of political developments be able to cancel his debts,” Papava thinks, and similar views are expressed by a number of other analysts.

The idea of a financial amnesty is not much welcomed by the administration. MP Paliko Kublashvili thinks that by such actions the interests of conscientious tax payers would be damaged, as those who have not paid their taxes would be put in a privileged position. He agrees with Papava that this would encourage non payment or late payment. Kublashvili suggests that all businessmen should refrain from making such statements and promoting these ideas. He says that far from being a way to rescue the country in this time of crisis such an amnesty is merely a license to conduct dishonest business, and therefore speculating on it is absolutely unacceptable.

A financial amnesty is not the only solution to the present crisis which Georgian business has suggested. Recently Fady Asly, Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, wrote an open letter to opposition leaders in which he described in detail the threats the country could face if they start protest rallies and continue them indefinitely (see The Messenger, March 31). Business is very much concerned that any type of protests will damage business as they will portray the country as an unstable and unreliable partner.

Fady Asly suggests that dialogue is the only means of resolving disputes. It is unlikely that the radically-oriented opposition will follow his advice but his letter shows that businessmen are clearly very much concerned about the possible developments which will obviously damage the country’s economy and negatively affect investment market. Business and government are two separate spheres, as businessmen themselves are quick to maintain, but as the Governments of any country get more out of touch the longer they are in power, and the opposition will not discuss anything except changing the Government, both sides might be wise to listen to those obliged to keep both feet on the ground to survive.