PM Kvirikashvili: The ‘Leicester City Dream’ of a Future Regional Hub

The Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, took part in Georgia Investor Day in London on May 13, at which he spoke about the positive aspects of doing business in Georgia and the business-friendly environment and investment opportunities here. In addition, he stressed the important achievements of the country in corruption elimination, one of the main components of successful economic development.

PM Kvirikashvili noted that Georgia is one of the most available platforms in terms of doing business in tourism and hospitality, agriculture and industry; it is involved in large global economic projects like Silk Road, and can easily be considered as a true regional hub.

The Prime Minister stated that the location and stable political situation of Georgia are the main factors for the country’s successful outlook. “While the world may be forced into choosing sides between Russia and Turkey, Europe and Asia, Shia or Sunni, or even Arab and Israeli, Georgia remains a safe haven situated in a place where companies can engage all,” he said.

He went on to highlight the existing free trade agreements with all its neighbors, including Russia, strong and present regardless of the difficulties in the region and certain territorial disputes. The PM also noted the expected signing of a free trade agreement with China, “Which means that we have free trade agreements with 1/3 of the world. In our region, Georgia is the country with the most open economy- and a great opportunity so presents itself to establish Georgia as a trade and tourism hub,” he said.

Separately, the PM spoke about Georgia’s anti-corruption system as one of the main factors of the country’s achievements. He also had a chance to talk about this topic in a more extended manner at the Anti-Corruption Summit: London 2016. The event brought together world leaders, business representatives and civil society to find solutions to corrupt practices and to combat the culture of corruption in all facets of political activity.

“We have corruption free public service,” the PM stated. “We have developed a one-stop-shop nationwide network of Public Service Halls in up to 20 cities and in community centers in more than 30 large villages across the country that provide all types of public services to our citizens.” This, he says, limits the corruption-related risks, already low in Georgia.

Speaking about the major anti-corruption reforms in Georgia, PM Kvirikashvili said the introduction of a comprehensive online state procurement system, development of E-Treasury and E-Budget programs, and the passing of certain laws had helped pave the way for efficient prosecution of corruption-related crimes.

Georgia is internationally recognized as a country low in corruption. In particular, the Open Government Index 2015 published by the World Justice Project ranked Georgia in first place out of 13 East European and Central Asian countries in the Open Governance category. Georgia also ranked 11 out of 197 countries according to the Business Bribery Risk Index 2014 published by Trace International. According to Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer Survey, only 4 percent of people polled in Georgia said they had paid bribes.

“Based on this, we can say that Georgia is the least corrupted country not only in the region, but in the world,” stated PM Kvirikashvili.

In conclusion, the PM stated that he saw a bright and successful future for Georgia. “When I look to the future, I see a united and prosperous Georgia fully integrated into Western institutions. I see a future where we resolve difficulties and enjoy good relations with all our neighbors, including Russia. I see Georgia as a critical nexus safeguarding European energy security. I see a flourishing regional hub for trade, transportation, and logistics. Some can consider it an impossible dream, but when we have the case of Leicester City FC before us [which surprisingly won the English Premier League this year], we see that even seemingly impossible dreams can come true.”

Eka Karsaulidze

16 May 2016 19:41