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Finance good, customs bad, President says

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, July 29
President Mikheil Saakashvili visited the Finance Ministry on July 27. While meeting the Ministry staff he talked about the problems in the country’s fiscal sector and its achievements in this direction. He also strongly criticised the situation at the Sarpi customs point.

“We have managed to significantly improve the economic situation and the financial sector in the country. There was a period when the funds of international organisations and overseas aid were spent on the personal comfort of senior officials, but we have managed to change this situation and all the state funds and international grants are being spent on the rehabilitation of the road infrastructure, water and sewage systems, the construction of a natural gas network, etc. Georgia has overcome the economic crisis easily in comparison with many developed countries as the result of adopting correct economic reforms and policy, even though many European leaders expected that the Georgian economy would collapse,” Saakashvili stated.

However the President described the situation at customs points as a black spot. "Where have you seen every vehicle and every tourist crossing the border being searched? Two days ago I met some Spanish tourists, who complained about the time they had had to spend at the Turkish border and then a further 80 minutes at the Georgian checkpoint, where they were asked to get out of the car for a body search. Why do we behave like jungle dwellers? They will not come to Georgia anymore. I warn the customs staff to be more attentive and the Government members to pay more attention to this issue,” Saakashvili stated.

As for the achievements in finance, the President said that the Georgian economy was becoming completely transparent and electronic governance would be the last nail in the coffin of the black and shadow economy. "Moving to an electronic governance system means that corruption in state structures will be completely annihilated and our activities will be extremely transparent for the Georgian public,” the President stated.

The President stated that the fact that the World Bank has listed Georgia as the most open country for foreign investments is one of the main achievements of the Georgian Government and should be a hint to the Georgian business sector to be more active. "Georgian businessmen should sober up. The State has managed to create a suitable and profitable situation for them and now it’s their turn. The economy needs quick growth,” Saakashvili stated.

The President also said that he does not worry about who will run Georgia after 2013. "Some think about what posts they want to take in 2013. I don’t care at all who will take what post, including myself, the most important thing for me is how we will have kept all the promises given to the Georgian people by that time, including the development of infrastructure,” the President said.

Analyst Gia Khukhashvili told The Messenger, "Unless the Georgian Government changes its nature no positive developments are possible, either in the economy or other important areas. There is no need for slogans and comments that each structure should work on attracting investments, as this will be absolutely useless when the business sector is not protected and there is no impartial court. The business of the Government is to create a healthy and conducive environment for business and economic development, and issues like what time businessmen get up at are not their business, especially when such remarks are made by a Minister of Economy who does not understand what economics is. A really odious situation has been created by the present Government,” Khukhashvili said.