Bendukidze’s verbal value22.09.2011 | 11:49
Kakha Bendukidze, the ideological inspirator of reforms in Georgian economy, has given a large interview with Novaya Gazeta (Russia) preaching libertarian values in his typical manner. According to the businessman and former economy minister of Georgia, the country has made serious achievements, conquered corruption and brought people's life standards to a higher level. GeorgiaTimes correspondent asks Soso Tsiskarishvili, an economy expert, whether these optimistic assertions are right.
In an interview with Novaya Gazeta Kakha Bendukidze, one of the originators of Georgia's current economic policy highlights real changes in the country's social and economic situation and law.
"The quality of life has improved by 40%. Everyone sees that. Much fewer foodstuffs including bread and meat could be bought on an official pension some six years ago. Our victory over corruption is that it hasn't vanished completely, but it is not widespread, and culprits are punished when such cases occur", - the former minister told.
GeorgiaTimes correspondent discusses these changes with Soso Tsiskarishvili, an economist from Tbilisi.
"Mr. Bendukidze's ideas have been implemented in Georgian economy for many years already. As of now, only authors of these reforms and their co-authors make use of their results. Speaking about liberalism, let's take the Law on Labor, for instance. It is liberal for company owners, not employees. Lopsided liberalism to please the country's leadership and its clientele turns into their endless personal enrichment, - the Georgian expert complains. - Mr Bendukidze's demagogy is particularly glaring if we remember the current situation in Hercules plant in Kutaisi. His idea of the Labor Code he failed to refine was severely criticized by the European Union".
The economist is also skeptical about figures mentioned by the former minister. "I don't understand what this 40% means. 40% of what? I don't think Bendukidze has acquaintances who could have problems with their life quality. The minister prefers dealing with citizens via TV. He is completely alienated from common people of Georgia. Hardly is he ready to meet them for he will fail to stand the squall of questions people have accumulated since his time in ministerial office. He has sold everything he could - just like he promised. His first statement in government was: "We must sell everything except for conscience" (apparently because he had sold conscience before, as the subsequent events showed), - Soso Tsiskarishvili ironized. - Elite corruption, now a sort of licensed business in the country, has replaced massive corruption. And these licenses are issued at a summit level. Bendukidze is not allowed for the process, he can only suggest "worthy" candidates. But the population sees: what used to be a wide-spread illegal phenomenon now is an almost legalized practice".
The former minister of economy confessed he still comments on current reforms in the country - now as an amateur - thinking that liberalization of economy has not been completed yet.
"In particular, it would be good to get rid of the Central Bank and have free competition of currencies in a certain form. We have brought the customs tariff down (making it one of the lowest in the world) and I think our next step would be to eliminate it completely. For the time being, forests are owned by the state, and this is more than half of Georgia's territory. At least part of forest areas must be passed to private ownership - this is very important for preservation of their recreational and ecological potential. Reforms are like this, you know: you start doing something and then you find out you can go on and on and on", - Kakha Bendukidze dreams.
Soso Tsiskarishvili believes all this is not aimed at prosperity of common citizens: "All reforms Mr. Bendukidze suggests are nothing but a series of speculative operations. We remember him promising to solve problems in medicine with his "100 hospitals" plan that, as it was expected, turned into land speculation in fashionable districts of Tbilisi and other towns".
Soso Tskiskarishvili adds that Kakha Bendukidze is a mediocre liberal. "On one hand he advocates complete disregard of Russian interests in Transcaucasia. On the other hand he actively supports Russian investments in Georgia, its energy, telecom spheres and so on", - the expert said. According to him, there is no democracy or liberalism in Sakartvelo for the time being. "Certainly, it's OK to report on democracy in Georgia from the UN General Assembly's stand, as our president does, sharing his recipe of democracy construction with Arab countries. Yet, most part of the Georgian population is willing to adopt experience of Arab countries in dealing with a despotic regime", - Soso Tsiskarishvili sums up.