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Sugar price increases investigated

Ernest Petrosyan
Monday, February 22
Representatives of the Christian-Democratic Movement protested in Parliament against the recent increase in the price on sugar on February 19. This has doubled over the past year and is now 2 GEL per kilogramme wholesale and 2.30 GEL per kg retail. The increase has been caused by the monopoly on sugar imports.

Members of the CDM met traders at the Tbilisi wholesale market on the same day to discuss the price increase. “Last year the price of a sack of sugar was about 50 GEL and today it is 100 GEL. This has been caused by the lack of strong and independent antimonopoly services and antimonopoly regulation. The monopolist is the Agara Sugar Company, which controls 100% of the market. This company is protected by the Government from competition and thus we have sugar at 2.20 GEL per kilogramme”, stated Giorgi Akhvlediani, the party spokesman. "The Agara Sugar Company has been the only supplier for quite a long time,” the market traders confirmed.

According to the Christian-Democrats a strong and independent antimonopoly agency should be established in order to control the actions of the Government and prevent any company gaining a monopoly. If the sugar price is properly regulated it will be around 60-70 tetri per kilogramme. Akhvlediani added that antimonopoly legislation is also necessary.

Speaking to The Messenger Giorgi Akhvlediani stated that petroleum imports and pharmaceuticals are among the other areas of business which are monopolised. "The Aversi Company, for instance, controls the import of foreign medicines and the production of Georgian medicines and has established a clinic and insurance company, thereby controlling the entire pharmacy-healthcare business. The same thing has happened with the import of sugar. No one is entitled to import sugar except Agara, and if Agara sets the price at 10 GEL we will have no alternative to paying 10 GEL for it," he said. The party spokesman added that antimonopoly legislation should be enacted and a genuinely independent antimonopoly service board should be elected by Parliament after intensive collaboration with opposition parties.

According to economic analyst Gia Khukhashvili the system allows monopolies, and companies armed with administrative resources take advantage of this. The present Government, most of whose members are involved with such monopolies, prefer not to establish an antimonopoly service, he said. “We live under a capitalistic nomenclature”, Khukhashvili told The Messenger.