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Protests and the economy

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, April 14
The events of the first few days after April 9 have suggested that the protest actions are unlikely to fade away in a couple of days. Given the current global economic crisis this could create problems for the country’s underdeveloped and easily vulnerable economy. Moreover this could be used by both sides to manipulate peoples’ mood.

The current administration has often pointed out, absolutely correctly, the negative impact street rallies will have on business. PM Nika Gilauri has held several meetings with the business community at which he insisted the country’s economic performance was positive but then expressed his concern over what might happen as a result of the protest rallies. At a meeting with ICC Georgia members Gilauri stated that the only things the actions would produce are a weakening of the economy and a loss of jobs.

Businessmen are saying that if the protest rallies last a long time this will be bad news for the country. Temur Chkonia, President of Coca Cola Bottlers Georgia, thinks that if the rallies continue it will be catastrophic for business. Maia Rcheulishvili from the Centre Point Group development company believes that the protest rallies contain more devastating threats for the country than the August war did.

However there are other opinions. Economic analyst Davit Narmania thinks that democratically-conducted processes will not influence the economy much. Opposition-oriented people are not out in the streets because of slogans but because they are protesting against administration policy in different fields. “Why do the people have such a powerful inclination to protest, why do some people prefer to stand in the street instead of staying at home with their families? Was it the opposition which demolished their houses, was it the opposition which dismissed them from their jobs? Did the opposition ‘flush them down the toilet’?” asks former MP Lado Papava.

Today both sides are trying to discredit each other by labeling each other. The opposition says that the source of all destabilization is the President and his circle, and every day they remain in power they undermine Georgia’s statehood either politically or economically. The authorities on the other hand put all the blame on the opposition-initiated rallies and protests. However you wish to interpret it, the bald fact is that many projects which were about to start have been postponed, many investors have delayed their visits to Georgia and many existing businesses are refraining from expanding their activities. Nobody should doubt that if the feeling of instability remains the country will have fewer jobs, fewer investors and a further deteriorating economy.

The only solution to the present crisis is concessions, so if either side cares for the country and the people they will find solutions. If there is good will there is always a way.