Business requires government prudency
23 January, 2014
Business requires government prudency
Shortly after the new government took office, Georgian business acknowledged that it felt less under pressure than during the previous regime. But now, feeling safer, it wants less miscommunication and more attention.
Thus the Chairperson of the Georgian Parliament has suggested setting up a group to lobby business interests in the parliament. It will be involved in discussions before bills undergo parliamentary procedures. This is expected to insure business-friendly legislation, and a more favorable environment ultimately.
Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili,
who declared 2014 as the “year of production,” plans to hold frequent meetings with the business sector. He began on 15 January by meeting big business behind closed doors, and promised to go to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) soon.
Media was not admitted to the meeting but learned later from the satisfied participants that the Primer seems eager to listen to business. The key topic of the meeting was how to remake 80% import-dependent Georgia into a self-supporting country with developed local production.
The Association of Georgian Business (AGB), incorporating big business, asked Gharibashvili to approve a mutual “economic declaration” that will establish a streamlined approach by both government and business to fundamental issues such as protection of property rights, supremacy of law, creation of a competitive climate, etc. - all to insure a stable business environment. According to Giorgi Chirakadze, Head of AGB, the PM agreed and intends to work with business very closely.
Irakli Lekvinadze, an economic analyst, approves of direct communication between government and business, enabling the latter to report their grievances immediately. He believes the suggested “economic declaration” will reconfirm the trust of entrepreneurs in government.
According to Lekvinadze, the single flaw is that authorities showed a selective policy and did not invite some important big market players. The omitted businesses complained that this is not the first time they have felt discrimination from the new government, which overlooked them throughout 2013. The SME, the sector most aggrieved by the previous regime, also is unhappy: as in 2013, when the first meeting was with big business, the new year has started with the big fishes once again.
“I believe government has to streamline its policy toward business in Georgia at last and understand that the business sector is not just the businesses who met the Premier on 15 January,” Demur Giorkhelidze, an economic analyst, told Georgian Journal. “They are the ones who enjoyed privileges during the previous regime, who were accomplices with it, in fact to implement an incorrect economic policy that led the country to catastrophe. The SME is the key job and welfare creator. No developed country reached its prosperity without the SME. Either authority understands it should create fair and equal conditions for all businesses in the country, or it will end up as shameful a failure as its predecessor was.”
He indignantly disapproves of “the economic declaration” idea, and interference of the business lobby in legislation-making. “The idea that business should interfere in legislative process and have a lobby group at parliament is an extreme profanity,” Giorkhelidze said. “The former government implemented policy admitting business to the legislative process, and we witnessed its political bankruptcy. State and business activity must be separated clearly: state should care for the creation of fair rules of the game – including the court, competition and so on – leading the country to economic welfare. Business should do the business. All other talks are blah-blah-blah.”
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