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The News in Brief

Tuesday, December 24
State-owned Georgian Sovereign Wealth Fund to be established

The government of Georgia plans to establish a 100% state-owned Sovereign Wealth Fund based on the Partnership Fund, created in 2011 to attract investment from abroad, and focus on co-financing projects in the energy agriculture, real estate, and industrial sectors.

Revenues for the fund will come mainly from dividends from the state-owned rail, oil, electricity and gas businesses and profits of its own investments.

The draft bill on "JSC Georgian sovereign fund” was also presented to the parliament for the debates.

According to the draft law, the goal of the fund is supporting and developing the cost-effective investment projects and attracting the investments.

Moreover, the Partnership Fund will be integrated into the Strategic Development Fund and will be a sister enterprise of the Sovereign Fund. The founders and 100% owners of the Strategic Development Fund will be part of the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

According to the government, the acting structure and functions of the Partnership Fund does not comply with the practice and requirements of the similar types of international funds. Also, the shares of the state own companies are not protected from entrepreneurial risks.

The Sovereign Fund will establish the Strategic Actives Company which will own the stocks and shares of state-owned rail, oil, electricity and gas businesses.

The initiative for establishing the Georgian Sovereign Wealth Fund was revealed by the Ex-Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili, who repeatedly announced plans for three, new government-run investment funds at the launching presentation of one of the Georgian Co-Investment Fund (GCF), a private equity fund of USD 6 billion to channel capital into needed sectors, in late September this year. Ivanishvili has committed 1 billion USD of his own money to the GCF.

Session of the NATO integration committee held at state chancellery

The session of the NATO integration commission was held at the state chancellery, where the representatives of the government of Georgia discussed the implementation of the 2013 annual national program and the action plan for 2014.

The authorities expressed their hope that the process towards the integration into the alliance would be further reinforced in 2014.

“The 2014 annual national action plan for Georgia is very loaded, we can say, exceedingly overloaded. We have ambition along with the obligations to ensure fast and effective development of the country for NATO integration. Therefore, we hope that as the program is implemented, our relations with the alliance will be enhanced and reaffirmed. Of course, we are expecting serious progress,” the chairperson of the defense and security committee of the parliament MP Irakli Sesiashvili announced.

The commission was chaired by Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili.
(Rustavi 2)

EU Welcomes Planned Renaming of State Ministry for Reintegration

EU delegation has welcomed planned renaming of the Georgian State Ministry for Reintegration into the State Ministry for Reconciliation and Civic Equality starting from January and called on the authorities to “continue steps towards pragmatic engagement with Abkhazians and South Ossetians.”

EU delegation in Tbilisi released a statement on December 20 in agreement with the heads of missions of EU-member states in Georgia.

“The EU Delegation acknowledges the efforts, pragmatism and commitment of the Office of the State Minister and all those working towards peace and reconciliation on all sides, and wishes them courage and vigor for the new year,” it reads.

Paata Zakareishvili, the state minister whose portfolio includes issues related with the breakaway regions and integration process of ethnic and religious minorities, said on November 29 that change of the name will ease direct contacts with defacto authorities in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In January 2008, when the State Ministry for Conflict Resolution Issues was renamed as the State Ministry for Reintegration, the new name angered both Sokhumi and Tskhinvali. At the time officials from both breakaway regions even warned that they would not have engaged in talks with Georgian state minister in charge of “reintegration.” In July, 2008 then President Mikheil Saakashvili gave status of his special envoy for conflict resolution issues to then state minister for reintegration Temur Yakobashvili.

In its statement the EU delegation also noted opinion of the Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal affairs, Venice Commission, which welcomes proposed amendments to the law on occupied territories; in its recommendation earlier this month the Venice Commission also suggested that further potential improvements to the law. The EU delegation called on the Georgian government to consider these recommendations.

Internal Affairs Minister visits children with leukemia

The Minister of Internal Affairs Alexandre Chikaidze visited children with leukemia (cancer of the blood) at M. Iashvili Children’s Central Hospital on December 21.

Chikaidze went to the hospital due to the kids’ new-year wishes. Several weeks before, two boys asked Santa Claus in their letters to bring the police uniform and police cars. The 17-year-old patient Giorgi Kiknadze, however, wished to meet with the Minister of Internal Affairs. The children also were able to sit in a real police car outside the clinic.

The Minister of Internal Affairs wished them to get better soon, and stated that the policemen are always ready to donate blood for the children with leukemia.

According to the statistics, almost 50 cases of leukemia are annually revealed among the children in Georgia. The 70% of them go through the treatment course successfully.

“Georgia without Barriers”: an online map for those with wheelchairs

All those using wheelchairs in Georgia are now able to receive information about a location’s accessibility online. A new online map was created by the Social Protection League, within the project "Georgia without Barriers”.

Four biggest Georgian cities Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Rustavi and Batumi are involved in the project. The online map shows if the locations or buildings a consumer is looking for, is equipted with ramps, lifts, or the personnel willing to help those with a wheelchair.

Everyone can suggest an update of the information on the web-site. Once the administration double-checks and finds it correct, the information will be updated on the map.

"Our research shows that a very few buildings in Georgia have ramps. And even those which do have, they are not usable. They look like more slides for kids than ramps which can actually be used by a physically challenged person”, Bela Songhulashvili, the Social Protection League director said while presenting the project.

She also highlighted that, with a help of the Ministry of the Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, they got the information from 42 more municipalities, so that the online map will soon cover the whole country.

The project is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Eurasia Partnership Foundation.