Coordinated European Business Forum with the business Ombudsman and deputy head of the Revenue Service of Georgia

Economy of Georgia

The Coordinated European business forum that took place of Wednesday 15th of May at the Holiday Inn hotel is a forum organized by the European chambers of commerce present in Georgia, French Chamber, German Business Association, and Georgian Swiss Business Association.

 

Signature of memorandum of cooperation

 

The conference began with the signing of a Memorandum between the French Chamber of Commerce and the Swiss Business Association with the Business Ombudsman to mark the beginning of their collaboration. The objective of this MoU is for both parties to collaborate and cooperate in a manner that supports the initiatives of both organizations which transpire into improvement of the business environment and innovation in Georgia, present and future. The memorandum was signed by president of the French Chamber Antoine Bardon, the president of the Georgian Swiss Business Association Nona Mamulashvili and the Business Ombudsman Irakly Lekvinadze.

 

Presentation by the organisers

 

The signing session was followed by a short presentation of each European collaborator.

DWV - German chamber

In the first place, the executive director of the German Business Association presented their yearbook and put forward the fact that they had signed the Memorandum of year ago with the Business Ombudsman.

GSBA - Swiss Chamber

The Georgian Swiss Business Association followed by presenting their activity. It has been present for the past 15 years in Georgia but they have been working actively to reinforce their presence for one year now. In 2018 they were invited as a guest of honor at the Expovina welfare in Switzerland and presented Georgian wine companies that were able to find partners and sold over 16 654 bottles of wine. This showed the success of the Association as the Swiss market is very difficult to enter.

CCIFG - French Chamber

The first part of the conference ended with the presentation of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry, by the Executive director Sophie-Anne Godinat. She presented the Chamber as a private entity that has been active in Georgia for the past 10 years with 76 members today. She presented a brief history and she continued by presenting 6 different important sectors of activity in which French companies distinguished themselves recently. The first sector is passenger traffic with the company Air France that recently launched direct flights Tbilisi-Paris, restauration with the company La Durée, hospitality with the PullMan hotels present on the Georgian market and the Vatel school that is going to be a professional hospitality school in Georgia, telecommunication with Sofrecom, industry with Groupe Atlantic that recently opened a factory in Kutaisi and finally Sade with waste management. All these various sectors of activity prove the successful work of the French Chamber on the Georgian market.

 

Presentation by the Business Ombudsman

 

Mr. Irakly Lekvinadze then took place to present the activities and the role of the Business Ombudsman of Georgia. Mr. Irakly has been in charge of the Business Ombudsman of Georgia since 2018.

In the first place, Mr. Irakly presented the different issues and problems occurring in Georgia and impacting the entrepreneurial and business sector in Georgia. The role of the association is to give support to all businesses who come towards the Association. The Business Ombudsman mentioned that the Association does not interfere with the court related cases.  The Business Ombudsman supervises the protection of the rights of the businesses and the companies. It is mainly represented in the Ministry of Finance as most cases are related to taxation issues. It is also represented in the Council of the Ministry of Economy and in municipalities but on a much smaller scale. The recommendations are transmitted by the web portal and direct meetings (more than 40 meetings all throughout Georgia).  The Business Ombudsman has dealt with 316 cases and made recommendations to support these cases. 55% of the cases come from the capital Tbilisi and the city of Adjara comes second with the 12% of cases. The Business Ombudsman works with many different domains of activity. The most present sectors are retail and wholesale trade, services, production and construction of infrastructures. According to the Business Ombudsman, 75% of cases were solved positively based on the recommendations made.

As mentioned earlier, the Business Ombudsman mentions that he has many relations with the Ministry of Finance. According to him, it brings really good results and helps to get in touch with all court instances related to the business processes. The relations with the Ministry of Finance were reinforced with an agreement signed by the president of Georgia. The goal is that the interests of the business sector is regarded in the law system, with for example improvement in regulations of working conditions in Georgia.

Today the Business Ombudsman wants to cooperate with foreign partners and increase its visibility which seems to be the purpose of the Memorandum.

The Business Ombudsman brings out three main points that they would like to solve in order to improve the business environment in Georgia with the help of foreign partners and the support and intensive cooperation with strong donners (USAID, EU, world bank) and an important cooperation with Georgian medias that were present at the forum. These problems are the court and judicial system, as there is a need for more competences and cases are on average dealt with a very longue time period. Also there is a need to enhance bureaucracy efficiency in the management of public agencies, and finally to remove the inadequate regulations that prevent business opportunities.

 

Presentation by the deputy head of the Revenue Service

 

The presentation of Mr. Irakly was followed by a presentation of Zurab Dzelashvili, the Deputy head of the Revenue Service in Georgia. The Revenue Service of Georgia is a legal entity of public law of the Ministry of Finance which executes state control on the whole territory of Georgia. The main goal of the Service is to support businesses in Georgia, to create a favorable environment for establishing new businesses and their development with a reliable tax system. Mr. Zurab began by expressing the common interests with the Business Ombudsman of Georgia. These include working on fiscality of the State and on the competitive fields to instore a good business environment in Georgia. Mr. Zurab agrees that the taxation system needs to be reformed with a law enforcement to acknowledge the tax payers on the deadlines of payments. The Revenue Service wants to put in place reforms against financial crimes as taxation control is a big challenge for Georgia. Mr. Zurab states that foreign reforms are necessary for the improvement of taxation system and that they should implement a short-term controlling mechanism in their agency for that to happen.

The sector which is most in need for reforms and control is the market of prohibited products.

The Deputy Head of the Revenue Service concluded with stating that the instance is open-minded and looking for cooperation and recommendations and that European Chambers offer advices and help to Georgia services.

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