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CSOs, Citizens Start Petition ‘to Save the Judiciary’

Civil.Ge Daily News - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 23:35

Civil.ge

A group, consisting of civil society organizations, political parties and private citizens have started a petition entitled “For Saving the Judiciary”. The petition is addressed to the Parliament of Georgia and the High Council of Justice. It voices demands for finding the ways out of the perceived crisis of confidence in the judicial system.

The statement says the years of reforms “failed to achieve their objectives”. According to it, the key reason is that the ruling parties did not show the political will to relinquish their control over the judiciary. The group believes that this “had adverse effects on the rights of each and every citizen Georgia, as well as the country’s [international] reputation and [its] democratic development.”

The authors of the petition point at the “clannish rule” of “discredited” judges, who “entered into alliance with the ruling party and tailored all important reforms to [suit] their own interests.”

“The signs of nepotism and corruption have emerged in the judiciary. The dominating clan is persecuting dissenting opinions,” reads the petition, according to which “the current crisis destroys trust towards judiciary’s impartiality and independence and shakes the foundations of Georgia’s democratic development.”

The group also notes that resolute decisions and principled reforms are the only solution to the problem. The authors of the petition demand resignation of the judges, Mikheil Chinchaladze and Levan Murusidze, who “have turned into a symbol of injustice,” as well as those members of the High Council of Justice, who supported “clannish principles in decision making.”

The petition has been signed, among others, by Transparency International Georgia, Human Rights and Monitoring Center, Georgian Democracy Initiative, Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy. The Petition is open to signatures from any interested citizen. The petition requires 1000 signatures to be carried forward and has been signed by 425 at the time of writing.

The post CSOs, Citizens Start Petition ‘to Save the Judiciary’ appeared first on Civil.ge.

CSOs Call for Higher Transparency in TBC Bank Case

Civil.Ge Daily News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 20:48

Civil.ge

Five local watchdogs released a statement on February 15 in response to the recent sanctioning of the TBC Bank board chiefs by the National Bank of Georgia, saying that hasty decisions against a “particularly successful” financial organization “raise questions” and may affect the country’s economic development and financial stability.

“Due to high public interest, it is important that the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) explains its decision to demand recalling specific persons from the TBC Bank’s Supervisory Board… The relevant law enforcement agencies should provide the public with information about the investigation against TBC Bank and/or its shareholders,” the statement reads.

According to the statement, signed by Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF), Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI), Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) and Transparency International Georgia (TI), it is important to ensure that the ongoing investigation does not hamper TBC Bank’s activities, as well as to respond to the public interest so as “to rule out any doubts about using selective justice.”

On February 13, the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) issued a statement giving the shareholders two months notice to remove the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Mamuka Khazaradze and his deputy Badri Japaridze. The NBG said this decision does not affect the status of the two as shareholders.

The post CSOs Call for Higher Transparency in TBC Bank Case appeared first on Civil.ge.

61 Civil Servants to Leave President’s Administration – Reports

Civil.Ge Daily News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 19:57

Civil.ge

President’s administration said 61 employees will be made redundant as a part of an ongoing reorganization, Georgian media reported on February 15. The report says the qualification criteria were re-assessed, and the employees passed tests and interviews during in December 2018-January 2019.

President’s administration explained that only 37 employees from the previous composition of were retained, after passing all necessary qualification requirements. 11 employees are on their maternity leave and thus preserve their positions by law.

The 61 persons will now have to be either re-assigned by the Civil Service Bureau to the positions commensurate to their grade, or will receive one-time compensations, should they decide to quit the civil service. The remaining vacancies will be advertised for competition among civil servants.

These procedures were put in place with the Law on Civil Service that entered into force last year.

The plans on staff cuts were first announced in early December, 2018 after the new budget reduced funding for the President’s administration by GEL 3.8 million and decreasing its staff from 140 to 60. These changes to the budget were made between the first and the second rounds of the Presidential elections.

The post 61 Civil Servants to Leave President’s Administration – Reports appeared first on Civil.ge.

Eurojust, Georgia to Counter Organized Crime

Civil.Ge Daily News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 18:39

Civil.ge

Eurojust – European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit, and Georgia will sign an agreement of cooperation in criminal matters, Eurojust reported on February 14, following the European Parliament’s voting in favor of the deal.

According to Eurojust, Georgia will become the first country in the South Caucasus to have concluded such a deal, which “if subsequently approved by the Council, will unlock the possibility of a more robust exchange of information in criminal investigations between the two parties.”

“The agreement will help Eurojust better target Georgian organized crime groups that are transnationally active and pose a major threat to security in Europe,” Eurojust stated, noting that for Georgia, the agreement “will be an important tool to meet its international commitment to prevent and fight organized crime.”

.@Eurojust-Georgia cooperation agreement approved by 555/29/20 in #EPlenary | @KaufmannSylvia pic.twitter.com/3nQotIquZe

— LIBE Committee Press (@EP_Justice) February 14, 2019

Eurojust’s President, Ladislav Hamran welcomed the European Parliament’s support of the draft cooperation agreement, which, he believes “will offer the possibility to establish a practical partnership in the fight against serious organized crime with a State of the South Caucasus region.”

“Today’s vote is an important step towards concluding an operational agreement with Georgia, which will facilitate the investigation and prosecution of organized crime both in Georgia and the European Union,” Hamran stated.

In their statements of February 15, Georgian Justice Ministry and Prosecutor’s Office underscored importance of the agreement as well. The Justice Ministry said negotiations between the parties had started earlier in 2015, and soon the Justice Minister, Prosecutor General and Eurojust President will officially seal the deal.

The post Eurojust, Georgia to Counter Organized Crime appeared first on Civil.ge.

The IMF: we have never advocated for the threshold on Lari lending

gbc.ge news - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 18:36
Tbilisi (GBC) – “When lending is restricted, it is reasonable to expect that domestic demand will also be contained and GDP growth rate will not be as high as otherwise”, - said Mr. Francois Painchaud, Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund of Georgia (IMF). “Imposition of the credit regulation, was expected to lead to the reduction of lending - “We expected the reduction, we acknowledged it, now we need to observe the trends in demand and make corresponding further steps”.

All Should be Ready- the Government Announces Alienation of State Real Estate

gbc.ge news - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 17:30
Tbilisi (GBC) - The state announces privatization plan of the real estates, which are on its balance.

The Volume of Money transfers is Increased

gbc.ge news - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 17:01
Tbilisi (GBC) – The volume of remittances is increased in the country within January.

Mr. Francois Painchaud: foreign exchange reserves of Georgia got closer to the IMF metrics

gbc.ge news - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 17:00
Tbilisi (GBC) – We told to create more reserves, - Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund of Georgia (IMF) claims on approaching the country’s reserves to the IMF’s criteria, but notes that the index is variable envisaging the various components.

The Minister: MGM TEX confirms that Georgia is competitive compared to other countries

gbc.ge news - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 16:28
Tbilisi (GBC) - We should be ready and do everything to open plants of this type, - Minister of Economy declared while visiting the textile enterprise MGM TEX.

Resident Representative of the IMF responds to TBC’s Case

gbc.ge news - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:53
Tbilisi (GBC) – Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund of Georgia (IMF) assesses the developments around TBC Bank.

GHG Announced on Receive of 850 MLN in 2018

gbc.ge news - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:42
Tbilisi (GBC) – Georgian Healthcare Group (GHG) has announced on the successful finish of 2018.

Gakharia: I did not talk with Mamuka Khazaradze on giving up shares

gbc.ge news - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:41
Tbilisi (GBC) - I did not talk with Mamuka Khazaradze on giving up shares, - The Minister of Internal Affairs responds to the opposition.

The Association: Regulator’s decision will not have an impact on TBC’s development

gbc.ge news - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:39
Tbilisi (GBC) - The Association of Banks of Georgia released statement that decision of the National Bank will not affect TBC Bank's future development and its strategy.

Financially Difficult Year - British American Tobacco Published the First Financial Report

gbc.ge news - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:38
Tbilisi (GBC) – Tobacco Producer Global Company has published the first financial statement in Georgia.

Mamuka Khazaradze: We will not give up our work, our freedom, our dignity

gbc.ge news - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:37
Tbilisi (GBC) - We will not give up our work, our freedom, our dignity, - founder of TBC Bank is not going to retreat.

Georgia, Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement Takes Effect

Civil.Ge Daily News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:08

Civil.ge

A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Georgia and Hong Kong, the special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, came into force on February 13, according to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.

The Ministry said the agreement aims to determine the terms of free movement of goods between Georgia and Hong Kong as well as to promote trade in services.

“Enactment of the agreement will promote the growth of trade turnover between the sides and open up opportunities for Georgian entrepreneurs to offer their products and services to a seven-million consumer market without additional bureaucratic barriers,” the Ministry stated.

Georgia and Hong Kong sealed FTA in June 2018.

Georgia’s trade turnover with Hong Kong, according to the State Statistics Office Geostat, stood at USD 24.28 million in 2018, with exports at USD 1.83 million (USD 6.35 million in 2017) and imports at USD 22.45 million (USD 102.58 million in 2017).

The post Georgia, Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement Takes Effect appeared first on Civil.ge.

Measuring Georgian Resilience

Civil.Ge Daily News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 11:55

Civil.ge

By Laura Thornton

“Resilience” is a term clearly in vogue right now. It is being used in Georgia and elsewhere in the context of a multitude of different things. It’s brought up in military context, on security. It is also being used to describe an inoculation to illiberal, undemocratic forces. It is discussed in reference to resistance to disinformation and propaganda campaigns. It has described robust, secure economies. But how can it be measured, and what factors are indicators for a resilient society? Does Georgia have it, and, if not, how to build it?

NDI has started exploring measurements of resilience through our public opinion research with CRRC Georgia. With help from experts, such as Israeli Professor Shaul Kimhi who has carried out a resilience index in several countries, NDI conducted a nationwide poll that measured some of the factors associated with resilience and held focus groups across the country to delve deeper into Georgian opinions on crises and coping. Our research has defined resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. Resilience is the ‘bouncing back’ from difficult experiences. National Resilience is the balance of perceived national strength and vulnerability after adversity or a traumatic event, and is measured on factors such as social cohesion, trust in institutions, faith in government responses to a crisis, and a sense of fear and threats.

In our poll, we adapted a 13-point scale (based on Kimhi, 2017) to measure national resilience. Factor analysis identified three main components: trust toward institutions and government, identification with the country and society, and social solidarity. On a scale of one to six, Georgians have relatively high trust in the police (3.7), average trust in the educational system (3.3), and low trust in parliament (2.8). On other measures, Georgians are quite optimistic about the future of the country and do not want to leave the country, but belief in social solidarity and justice is low. Confidence in the government to make the right decisions in a crisis, and in citizens to stand behind the government, is average. We also learned what other opinions correlate with national resilience. For example, people who believe Georgia is going in the right direction, assess crime and corruption as low, are active voters, and believe military performance has improved, are more likely to find Georgia more highly resilient.

Importantly, party preference significantly shapes perception of many of these resilience factors, a concerning finding. In other words, Georgian Dream party supporters reveal much higher trust in institutions, optimism, and belief in social cohesion that those who support other parties or have no affiliation.

NDI focus groups went deeper in an attempt to better understand these components of resilience, asking people about their experiences with crises, how they coped, their thoughts about the future and advancement, and what makes countries resilient. Georgians described how the country has faced severe challenges and survived them with friends and family and faith. They did not exhibit anxiety about the future and were generally optimistic. Importantly, when asked what countries they thought of as resilient, respondents frequently mentioned Georgia.

However, they did not describe meaningful community cohesion, outside friends and family, or emphasize the role of the state as a primary response to a crisis. Further, they painted a picture of a country where there is not a level playing field and where institutions are built on connections, not qualifications, affecting their perception of Georgia’s strength and provider of opportunities. As one middle-aged woman from Tbilisi told us when describing stress, “Losing a job because of nepotism was the most stressful event one year ago. They fired me and appointed a relative. It was awful. I still can’t get over it.” While overall sense of danger was low, a sign of resilient societies, focus group participants demonstrated some feelings of threat and insecurity about foreigners and vulnerability to xenophobia. They expressed welcome toward foreigners from specific, mostly Western, countries, but not from Turkey or Arab countries. They were concerned about foreigners negatively impacting Georgian culture and taking jobs from “real Georgians.”

So, is Georgia resilient? Well, in short, it’s complicated. Overall, based on this limited research, Georgians demonstrate resilient attitudes and behaviors on some key indicators such as optimism and belief in themselves to “keep calm and carry on” in a crisis. However, other areas are weaker, and partisan beliefs impact people’s feelings of security and strength. The question remains: how to build up resilience where it is weaker? NDI research has only uncovered some limited clues and more study is needed. Building strong, cohesive communities, having democratic governance that actually delivers for people, ensuring fairness and a level playing field for all to pursue their goals, are all well-known ingredients, in addition, of course, to the military hardware and international security support. Next steps will be to better explore means to bolster resilience and hopefully uncover how it is gained and lost.

Laura Thornton is National Democratic Institute’s resident director in Georgia.

The post Measuring Georgian Resilience appeared first on Civil.ge.

TBC Bank Shares Slide, as National Bank asks Board Chair, Deputy to Exit

Civil.Ge Daily News - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 23:43

Civil.ge

The National Bank of Georgia (NBG) has issued a statement (available in Georgian only) giving TBC Bank’s shareholders two months notice to remove the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Mamuka Khazaradze and his deputy Badri Japaridze from the Supervisory Board. The NBG said this decision does not affect the status of the two as shareholders. 

The NBG says its decision is linked with the cases of “violations of the legislation related to the conflict of interest” in transactions dated 2007-2008, unveiled during the examination of the TBC Bank’s accounts.

TBC Bank (TBCG) is listed at the London Stock Exchange under FTSE250. Its shares slid on the announcement by 6,65%. The live status of trades at LSE is available here.

TBCG Trades at LSE 14 Feb. 2019 TBC Bank’s response

In its official statement, the bank said it will challenge the decision of NBG in courts and pledged to protect the interests of the bank and its shareholders. Seeking to reassure shareholders, the bank also addressed the LSE saying that Khazaradze and Japaridze will continue to hold their positions as board members and Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Supervisory board of TBC PLC, a public limited company registered in England and Wales that was incorporated in February 2016. TBC PLC is the parent company of JSC TBC Bank (“TBC Bank”) since 10 August 2016. TBC PLC is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol TBCG. 

Chairman Defends his record

Mamuka Khazaradze, in a statement published via social media said “we won’t surrender our business, our freedom, and our dignity”. He cast doubt on an “expedited decision” taken by NBG, as well as the “campaign to mar the reputation” of the Bank. 

He linked the campaign to the construction of the deep-sea port of Anaklia , wherein TBC Holding leads the consortium also involving Conti International from the United States, SSA Marine from the United States, British Wondernet Express, and G-Star Ltd. from Bulgaria.

Khazaradze also claimed that the 11-year-old transactions sanctioned by NBG were audited by Dentons, which “not only found no trace of money laundering, abuse of office or any other criminal offense, but established that there was no conflict of interest.”

The Prosecutor’s Office has impounded certain documents linked to an undisclosed private transaction from TBC Bank offices on 8 January 2019. TBC Bank then said the actions were “premeditated attempt to discredit and damage the reputation” of the bank.

The post TBC Bank Shares Slide, as National Bank asks Board Chair, Deputy to Exit appeared first on Civil.ge.

TBC: the Bank will use all available resources to protect the interests of the Bank and its Shareholders

gbc.ge news - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 19:19
Tbilisi (GBC) - TBC Bank responds to the National Bank of Georgia for requesting withdrawal of Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze from Supervisory Board.

NBG Requested to Withdraw Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze from TBC’s Board

gbc.ge news - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 19:18
Tbilisi (GBC) – The National Bank of Georgia (NBG) requests to withdraw Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze from the Supervisory Board of TBC Bank.
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