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Saakashvili’s “economic miracle”2009-12-16 17:15
While the world is slowly forcing its way out of the crisis Georgia is enhancing its productive capacities as the Georgian authorities assert. Enterprises in free industrials zones (FIZ) of Poti and Kutaisi have started operating, creation of a similar zone is planned in Rustavi... But behind the TV camera featuring Mikheil Saakashvili cutting red ribbons there is only depressing reality.
Journalists of Georgia's opposition media visited the manufacturing facilities "promoted" by Georgian authorities in free industrial zones and expressed resentment over staged "prosperity" the well-fixed TV decorations create.
There is the "water supply project" in Poti that has already cost GEL 27 mln as an example. President Mikheil Saakashvili personally turned on the tap in one of the villages. There was water running from it when the country's number one figure opened it. Later however nobody managed to repeat the trick: water was supplied deliberately for the ceremony. And then Poti Water Channel CEO was detained and over 200 employees were made redundant. Obvious prosperity, isn't it?
In Zugdidi Saakashvili was equally "successful" to provide gas to 180 subscribers. Blue fuel has reached only three homes...
In August Saakashvili launched Prime Concrete plant in Poti. GEL 2 mln had been invested, a quarter of the amount contributed by local entrepreneurs, not the UAE's RAKIA in charge of the FIZ. Besides the president promised nearly 70 Georgians would work there. In reality there are hardly 25.
Kutaisi FIZ is managed by Egyptian investors that were already criticized for employing foreigners, not Georgians at the plant. This is what Mikhail Tigishvili, president of Georgian International Holding and Fresh's representative in Georgia told in an interview with Banks&Finance: these are Georgians that returned suntanned from their training in Egypt.
Besides even the parliamentary opposition has apprehensions that FIZs will have guest workers or trafficked slaves mainly due to the tax environment that the government sets up in these industrial zones.
Levan Vepkhadze of the Christian Democratic Party called the attention of the ruling majority in parliament that the employment of foreign workers in FIZs will cost 20% less than providing Georgian citizens with jobs since foreigners don't pay taxes there and the government didn't make Georgians tax-exempt.