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Government vows to support vendors

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, February 1
Georgia’s Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, expressed concern over the fire incident at the Children’s World trade centre, which completely burnt down on January 30 and left around 1000 vendors without jobs.

“We must do our best to help the vendors who have suffered losses during the fire at the shopping mall,” the PM stated at a meeting with the economic team of the Cabinet and the President of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG).

Kvirikashvili said that the efforts of relevant institutions should be consolidated in order to maximally ease the burden on the victims.

The officials agreed at the meeting that the Revenue Service of the Ministry of Finance would grant the widest possible privileges to the owners of shops destroyed by the fire, and that the National Bank would mediate with the banks to grant the vendors extended grace period.

The Finance Minister, Dimitri Kumsishvili, emphasized that in order to assist the victims of the fire at the market, and to identify their needs, a special working group from the Revenue Service would interview them to protect their interests and stave off any complications in regulating tax-related issues.

A special meeting was also held at the Mayor’s Office. The Mayor, Davit Narmania, said that the affected vendors will have an opportunity to open new shops at other markets and will have certain benefits.

Narmania said that administrations of some markets and malls have already expressed solidarity with the victims, who will be able enjoy benefits from a 3 to 6 month-period at other markets.

Vice Mayor Lasha Abashidze arrived at the fire site on Tuesday. He said that the building is too damaged and needs to be demolished.

“We will offer the people to continue working on different markets; if they wish they will be distributed in several locations. We have contacted the markets’ owners and we are ready to mediate,” Abashidze added.

The affected vendors are unhappy with the decision of the Mayor’s Office over the demolition of the building. They say that their belongings inside the mall might be lost.

However, the rescue teams and police allowed several vendors who had gold and jewelry shops to enter the burnt building in order to open safety-deposit boxes and take their belongings which survived the fire.

The Emergency Management Service says that in total around 15,000 square meters were burnt during the fire.

Around 30 fire engines were trying to extinguish the fire for six hours, which damaged the building’s foundations and left one firefighter with light injuries.

The cause of the fire is unknown. The police have launched an investigation under article 187, pertaining to destruction of another persons’ property, causing substantial damage.