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Economy Minister’s initiative to handle Coronavirus

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Wednesday, March 25
The National Bank of Georgia (NBG) has announced a new official exchange rate. The cost of one USD at the new rate is 3.4494 GEL, which is 21 tetri higher than the exchange rate before March 24. As for the euro, the change is 28 tetri, resulting in a euro costing GEL 3.7436.

Both the dollar and the euro set a record level of impairment yesterday. The NBG will sell $ 40 million in foreign exchange auctions today to soften the GEL’s peak depreciation.

Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Natia Turnava says that along with objective factors, such as stopping tourism and complicating exports, the main reason for the depreciation of the GEL is escalating negative expectations today. Turnava calls on businessmen, including importers, to refrain from making statements that could have an additional negative impact on these expectations.

She noted that the crisis is global, since the coronavirus is a challenge all around the world and national currencies are rapidly depreciating, with GEL rate being no exception. As to what can be done to reduce the impact of the GEL depreciation, the Economy Minister says they’ve selected 9 types of essential groceries, prices of which have been reinsured and is under gov’t monitoring, thus the exchange rate won’t affect these items.

She also emphasised that the economic team and the NBG periodically carry out various activities, including solid dollar interventions. “NBG’s strategy will also have some deterrent effect and the rate of impairment will be less.”

The National Bank sold $ 60 million to stop Lari's peak depreciation through foreign exchange interventions in March. At Bloomberg's trading system, one dollar is currently worth $ 3.51.

To handle the economic consequences of the Coronavirus, a new initiative was voiced yesterday. The Minister presented a hackathon of innovative ideas that will be organized together with the Agency of Innovation and Technology in Technopark. Turnava added that a grand prize has been set up for the winning idea.

The initiative is looking for an idea to help fight the virus, setting no particular rules to what the end product should be.

The application process started at the moment of the announcement and will continue for a week.

Hackathon is a design sprint-like event, where software developers collaborate to create functioning software projects.