Natia Turnava Presented Activities and Ongoing Projects by the Ministry in 2020 within Frames of Government Report to Citizens of Georgia

Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Natia Turnava, made a presentation on the activities carried out in 2020 by the Ministry within the framework of the Government Report to Citizens of Georgia. 

The Minister spoke about the country’s macroeconomic indicators and forecasts, as well as highlighted the important structural reforms and the related activities, including in the fields of energy, trade, transport, communications, construction and other sectors, taken place and planned for the future.

A significant part of the Minister’s annual report was devoted to the participation of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia in the spread and management of the COVID-19 epidemic, as well as the decisions taken by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development on the order of the Government of Georgia within the COVID-19 Anti-crisis Economic Plan to help citizens. She said that during 2020 the main efforts of the entire government team, including the Ministry of Economy, were and are still directed towards the implementation of anti-crisis measures, where the main focus has always been primarily on helping the population.

“This is a 1200 GEL assistance package for those who, despite all our efforts, have temporarily lost their jobs - this project has been implemented once and will continue for the first six months of 2021. A 300 GEL assistance for the self-employed is being implemented during periods of severe restrictions and point restrictions now; these are additional assistance packages for socially vulnerable groups, including large families and people with disabilities, as well as the one-time assistance of GEL 200 for children from the state, subsidies for university tuition pay for socially vulnerable families and one of the significant aids - subsidizing of utility bills that has already been implemented once in the first three months of the pandemic and will last for four months from November 2020,” - the Minister said.

On the order of the Prime Minister of Georgia and under the decision of the Interagency Council of the Government, quarantine areas were arranged in order to prevent the spread of the epidemic. By this time, the specially trained hotel staff served 133 767 people. In total, 215 hotels participated in the project on quarantine spaces and the number of employees amounted to 3 620. In addition, about 800 flights were performed and up to 6 000 Georgian citizens were repatriated from abroad in a safe and organized manner. 

5,4 million face masks were produced within the project on production of face masks, which had fully provided the population of Georgia with deficient items (by that time) in the first months of the spread of the pandemic.

With the involvement of the Ministry, liquid oxygen producer companies increased their production by 55%. Ten machines were purchased, which provide the production of medical oxygen relevant to the volume of 10 tons of liquid oxygen per day.
Together with the Coordination Headquarters, several e-management platforms, including those for managing business visitors, pre-registration of visitors from the countries that have a Reciprocity Agreement with Georgia and the project “Work from Georgia”, have been created and launched to perform operational and tactical tasks.

“We are involved in this process, of course, together with other relevant agencies and emergency headquarters. Among them, a business visitor management platform was created, which, despite the restrictions and the pandemic, allowed us to bring business visitors and investors safely to Georgia. Up to 18 000 applications have been processed through this platform and it is still valid today,” - Natia Turnava stated. 

The Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development also spoke about the platform of pre-registration of visitors from the countries having cooperation with Georgia on the basis of the principle of reciprocity, which will be also valid from July 2020 and through which up to 8 000 registration applications were processed and about 6 000 visitors crossed the Georgian border.

According to the Minister, the project “Work from Georgia” was launched during the same period through the appropriate electronic platform. It allows foreign nationals to arrive in Georgia and continue working from here. As Natia Turnava said, up to 1000 permits for foreign citizens to enter Georgia have been issued within the framework of the program.

“During the process of managing strict and point restrictions, together with the other relevant structures, we worked as part of inspection teams, checking how the business sector follows the epidemiological guidelines and, in this process, more than 1,500 facilities were inspected,” - the Minister said.

Within the framework of the report on the activities carried out in 2020 by the Ministry, Natia Turnava spoke about the programs that were created and implemented with the direct involvement of the Ministry of Economy, as part of the anti-crisis plan to help businesses.

“One of our programs and the “Enterprise Georgia” Agency have become one of the strongest levers of business assistance, especially for the sectors affected by the pandemic. During 2020, despite the pandemic, 78 new projects were funded, which is a total investment of GEL 161 million, as well as a competition in support of micro-entrepreneurs took place, for which a budget of up to GEL 40 million, practically doubled, was allocated,” - the Minister stressed.

As Natia Turnava reported, a credit guarantee scheme has been launched, which has become one of the strongest levers to support crisis-stricken industries (121 projects have been supported to date since 2020), as well as the State Mortgage Assistance Program has been designed to support the housing sector and people who wanted to buy an apartment with a real estate loan (the assistance provided for 6317 loans).

“We also focused on the affected industries, creating completely new areas under the “Enterprise Georgia’’ program to help them - for example, a mechanism for bank loan interest subsidy for small and family hotels; up to 2 200 hotels have already used the mechanism. As well as 33 travel companies have already benefited from the mechanism of subsidizing bank guarantees for travel companies,” - Natia Turnava said. 

She added that the Ministry has recently held regular meetings with various groups, who have also been affected by the pandemic. “We have provided an interest rate subsidy program on loans and finance lease for event planning companies. The bank loan interest subsidy program for the restaurant industry has also recently been launched in parallel with receiving applications. As of the current information, more than 1400 restaurants have already applied to us with applications. Our Agency for Innovation and Technology paid special attention to encouraging startups and innovations related to remote work and the introduction of safety standards,” - the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development said.

“In 2020, despite the pandemic, we continued to reform, improve the efficiency of our services and create a more comfortable and attractive environment for businesses and investors,” the Minister said. According to her, at the initiative of the Prime Minister, this year the project “Government Your Partner” was launched at the Ministry of Economy; under the One Window Principle, the Public Service Hall and community centres will provide several business programs and services to specific regions throughout Georgia.
As Natia Turnava stated, active reforms have been carried out in the direction of privatization of state property, in particular - two different organizations have been structurally merged: the Agencies of the Property Management and the Financial Services and real estate and movable property are managed under the One Window Principle now. 

“Also, the project 100 Investment Offers to Business was launched at the end of 2019 and continued successfully throughout 2020; 100 parallel auctions were being held continuously and 88 units were sold in 2020 within the framework of this project, the total privatization amount of which is GEL 43 million. In total, GEL 124 million were mobilized as a result of the privatization of state property in 2020,” - the Minister of Economy said.

At the same time, according to Natia Turnava, the Agency has been actively working throughout the year and doing everything possible to integrate minerals - this important resource - into the economy. 100 parallel online auctions were offered to businesses for the use of entrails. 433 subsoil use licenses were auctioned and sold; 2 015 deposit jobs were created across the country; the amount of the investment attracted amounted to GEL 20 800 000,” - the Minister stressed.

The report focuses on other decisions taken by the Government of Georgia to stimulate business and the first results already obtained - as a result of the introduction of the preferential tax regime for entities with the status of an international company, two global IT companies - EPAM and Exadel – have already started operating in Georgia, while under the Marine Fisheries Development Project - 3 new vessels are being built and 4 ones are being upgraded.

The presentation also touched upon important infrastructure projects, which were carried out according to the schedule set during the pandemic: 171 settlements and 32 293 families were gasified within the framework of the 3-year gasification plan; expansion of Kutaisi and Batumi International Airports is at the stage of completion; the state program on fiber-optic infrastructure development has been launched in Ozurgeti Municipality, which will be implemented within the framework of the Log in Georgia project and will cover more than 1000 settlements in Georgia; it is being implemented in partnership with the World Bank.

“Important energy projects were implemented this year to strengthen the country’s energy independence. The development of the energy sector is going very fast - practically, the creation of all necessary legislative bases for the implementation of the energy sector reform has been completed and an energy exchange has been established, which is operating in test mode this year.

In 2020, hydropower plants with a total installed capacity of up to 670 MW were put into operation or put under construction. The construction of the 230MW thermal power plant equipped with the latest technologies in Gardabani has been completed and put into operation. The construction of another thermal power plant (272 MW) will begin in the near future. Numerous projects have also been implemented for the development of energy infrastructure: two new main pipelines, substations and high-voltage transmission lines, etc. have been installed,” - Natia Turnava stated. 

Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. © 2021