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Ivanishvili: “The Economy is Governed through Cartel Agreements and Monopoly”

Published: August 30, 2012 | 11:59 am
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The COMMERCIAL TIMES

A U.S.-based P.R. firm recently reached out to the Atlantic International Channel on Ivanishvili’s behalf to help arrange a nearly hour-long Skype interview. Over the course of the talk, conducted through an interpreter, the Georgian Dream leader was unsparing in his criticism of the country’s direction.

When asked to identify one institution in Georgia that’s especially in need of reform, Ivanishvili said: “The economy is governed through cartel agreements and monopoly. The attorney general is the one who’s controlling funds. There is no free business in Georgia. So since the economy is in such bad shape and Saakashvili ends up lying about numbers, none of the other sectors can be healthy. What they claim as economic growth is a lie, and the world’s financial institutions in some cases agree to this, a feat that [the previous president, Eduard Shevardnadze] was not able to manage.”

According to the Georgian Dream leader, Saakashvili learned how to gather funds from customs and from tax authorities. “So in actuality what they call the economic growth was not economic growth: it was the government being able to properly collect funds through customs and revenue services. This is the core main responsibility and function of the government, and the previous government was not able to do this,” he stated.

As Ivanishvili added, at the beginning, for the first few years he was guiding them, gave them money to buy equipment, monitoring equipment, cameras, and other surveillance equipment. “And of course the budget, the state budget grew in several folds, but the economy didn’t grow.”

In his words, foreign direct investment and other investments in Georgia, that the government prides with is a credit that has been given. “Some 4.7 billion has been given to Georgia ever since the August 2008 war with Russia, and only a third of those credits were used for their intended purposes. Two thirds has been taken away by corruption — I’m saying approximately, not precisely — and they’re bragging and showing these new Justice Houses to Hilary Clinton and others. They built these so-called Justice Houses, one big one in Tblisi and a few others in other regions, and they’re bragging about this and saying it’s a great achievement.

So they’re bragging right now about foreign direct investment and other investments in Georgia. But in reality it’s a credit that has been given. Some 4.7 billion has been given to Georgia ever since the August 2008 war with Russia, and only a third of those credits were used for their intended purposes. Two thirds has been taken away by corruption – I’m saying approximately, not precisely – and they’re bragging and showing these new Justice Houses to Hilary Clinton and others. They built these so-called Justice Houses, one big one in Tbilisi and a few others in other regions, and they’re bragging about this and saying it’s a great achievement.”

Ivanishvili said the idea of there being a foreign investment economy in Georgia is absolute fiction. “They cannot name a single investor. They brought in [U.S. real estate mogul Donald] Trump. You can research this yourself. Trump did not put any investments. He was actually paid from us. You can double-check this with this Donald Trump example. The government was saying, promoting in the States as well as in Georgia, that Trump is going to invest in Georgia. It’s a complete lie. Quite the contrary: Trump wanted to sell his brand, and we don’t know what actually happened. One thing is evident: when the government controls business totally, not a single investment goes to that country.”

 

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