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ICC Georgia’s Chairman Fady Asly’s letter to “Mercer”

Thursday, March 28
Mercer World-Wide Qualify of Living rankings

Mr. Portalatin,

We are writing to express our deep contention with the results of your World-Wide Quality of Living ranking in which you place Tbilisi at 213; this rating surely doesn't reflect the reality and sheds very serious doubts about the credibility of your survey.

The World Bank named Georgia the top reformer in the world in 2006 and 2008, and the country continues to provide stable economic development and a liberal and free market economic policy. The Heritage Foundation ranks Georgia as the 21st freest economy in the world, while in 2012 the IFC has increased Georgia's "Ease of Doing Business" ranking by 3 points, making it the 9th easiest country in the world to do business. In 2010, the Opinion Research Business International (GORBI) performed a crime survey giving Georgia an 11.1 average victimization score, whereas Germany scored 43.1.

Last October Georgia witnessed legislative elections that resulted in a peaceful transition of power setting a precedent in this part of the world.

Tbilisi has a vibrant social environment offering a wide array of entertainment possibilities. The number of tourists flocking to Tbilisi to enjoy the abundance of excellent restaurants, its cultural sights, nightclubs, theaters and cafes is testament to that. In 2012 Georgia received a number of visitors equal to its own population.

The privatization of hospitals and clinics has increased dramatically the quality of medical care in the country encouraging many westerners to seek medical treatment in Tbilisi. Many doctors are western educated and a majority of clinics are outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment. Meanwhile, foreigners intending to relocate to Tbilisi have over 100 private elementary and secondary schools to choose from for the education of their children. Many offer curriculum in English, French, German and other languages.

Last year, the Georgian government established a new Public Service Hall, where under one roof a person can in few minutes register a property, a business, get an ID card, extend a visa and perform the kind of bureaucratic obligation that would take days or weeks to accomplish in most countries. Tbilisi is served by a score of major airlines with direct flights to major airports where they can easily make connections.

Commuters in the city have a choice between a modern underground, buses or taxis which rates are perhaps the lowest on the continent;

Georgia is a small country and Tbilisi is centrally located. It takes a little over two hours to hit the ski slopes of Gudauri while the Black Sea is a half hour away by plane. Two hours to the east is the wine region of Kakheti, where a wine tourism industry is booming. Tbilisi's consumers have never had a greater choice. Hypermarkets like Goodwill and Carrefour purvey western products, while shopping malls furnish Georgians with the latest fashions. Furthermore, private mail carriers have opened up long time ago the Internet shopping market to Georgians and free internet is permanently available at any point of the city.

Is this the same Tbilisi that your associates have rated 213? Have your associates ever set a foot in Tbilisi? We much doubt it.

Tbilisi has seen nothing but growth and improvement over the past years and under various aspects exceeds the standards of many western cities mentioned in your survey, yet your ranking puts Tbilisi among the least developed in the world; to add insult to injury CNN quoted your survey earlier this month emphasizing the ranking of Tbilisi as one of the ten worst cities in the world.

The International Chamber of Commerce in Georgia as a representative of the Tbilisi business community strongly condemns your rating and questions very seriously your motivations behind such an unjust score at 213, at a time you rank Damascus, a city torn by a civil war and subject to regular shelling and terrorist attacks at 197.

The International Chamber of Commerce is made up of hundreds of thousands of businesses from around the world, some of whom are your clients; you can remain assured that we will bring this issue in all its details at the ICC 8th World Chambers Congress that will be held in Doha end of April to warn all businesses that your surveys should be considered with utmost caution, prudence and reservation.

Sincerely yours

Fady Asly

Chairman of the Board