Better investments policy for petty fry required
01 May, 2014
Better investments policy for petty fry required
Georgia lacks proper regulation of petty investors since it provides neither a clear policy on investment opportunities nor due protection of their investments. Sector pundits say Georgia as an investment-deficient country cannot ignore even the pettiest investor. The creation of a fair investment climate for all investors in the country is a must. Surprise or not, but an economically underdeveloped small country like Georgia with an unemployment rate of 16% [that stretches to 45% behind the screen] and over a million
of its citizens looking for job opportunities abroad, lately became attractive to labor migrants from Asian countries. Labor migrants from China, India, Taiwan, Egypt, Iran and Africa come to Georgia for business opportunities. They open small trade outlets, run restaurants or a hotel business, some go to the regions for agriculture activity, and some simply trade on the street. However, their life is not easy in a country that has neither a clear migration policy nor investment regulation while the local population takes newcomers as rivals who seize their lands and jobs.
Some were attracted by Georgia’s image as a place were doing business is simple and red tape-free. Others had no option. Christian Copts for example who fled upheaval in Egypt and faced Christian-hunt faced difficulties to get visas to the US and Europe. For them Christian-dominated Georgia with a relatively easy visa regime and a liberal economic image looked like the best option. Out of 2 000 visas granted to Egyptians in 2013 in Georgia, the biggest part constitutes Christian Copts while their number stood at only 222 in 2012. Egyptians in Georgia mainly run small businesses including hotels or are involved in farming. However, doing business in Georgia turned out to be not so easy for local petty business traders, wholesalers and distributors frequently deceive labor migrants [who do not understand Georgian] in the pricing of goods and services. Sometimes labor migrants ask locals for advice in investment opportunities, but seldom get an answer. Some withhold good advice while most people are simply ignorant of this.
This bespeaks of a lack of state investment policy, economic analysts say. They believe it is high time for the Georgian authorities to think of a solution of the problem because Georgia does not have the luxury to neglect any investment opportunity and must care for every investor whether they are big or small.
“It is up to the State to work out a clear investment policy which will provide potential investors, no matter what their size, with full information on investment opportunities. And this policy must provide full guarantees that the investments they made are protected and safe, which the State does not do at the moment,” Levan Kalandadze, an economic analyst, told Georgian Journal.
On the other hand, the state interests should be observed and never sacrificed for the investors’ interest as it happened during the liberally disposed previous government that put agriculture lands up for free sale to foreigners. This led to a clash of interests and local farmers tried to hurl foreigners out by both fair and foul means. Around 2 000 Indian farmers for example who, tempted by cheap agriculture lands as the India-based broker agency Crown Migration touted in India, acquired a total of hundreds of hectares of lands in the Kakheti region, face problems with the locals now. The local population who cannot afford land acquisition got discontented and now threatens foreign farmers into leaving the lands.
“Even the most democratic countries do not put up their lands for free sale, they put out certain terms the investor must observe and that fall within the state’s interest,” Soso Archvadze, an economic stated. To mitigate the problem the new authorities introduced a moratorium on lands sale past spring, but Archvadze does not approve of the ban either. He believes a reasonable restriction could be the better way-out and the State must regulate the issue in a way to please both locals and foreign investors.
Tourist agencies run by Arabs from Iraq dominated the downtown of Tbilisi. They hung out boards in the Arabic language with no Georgian translation which also lays ground to a certain discontent of the locals.
Economic analysts believe that the State must elaborate a proper policy before an incident takes place, and find a golden middle that will observe both state interests and ensure a fair investment climate for all investors.

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