EBRD Vice-President: Georgian Economy Is Very Diversified

Mr Jurgen Rigterink, First Vice-President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), says that the economy of Georgia is “very diversified.”

In an interview with Analitika, Rigterink said that a diverse economy means that active steps are necessary in many fields.

“I do not want to limit myself to focusing only on certain sectors. Georgia’s economy is very diversified, which means that we have to be active in many areas,” he said.

The First Vice-President of the EBRD, who paid his first official visit to Georgia in late September, said the EBRD is increasingly getting involved in the energy and renewable energy sectors.

“We believe the SMEs sector, as in every other country, is the backbone of the economy. However, for us, as a very large bank that has one office in Georgia with only 35 employees, it is very difficult to directly access all businesses in this sector. So we do this together with our partners – commercial banks that are our funding intermediaries,” he explained.

He said Georgian businesses need not only financial but also consulting support.

“We also have an advisory service where we have already assisted 3,000 representatives in this sector – tips include IT issues, risk management, web hosting – any practical issues,” he told Analitika.

Regarding the business climate in the country, Rigterink said he has heard from many businesses and other sources that there is some volatility in the country’s economy and there is a danger that the business climate will stop improving.

He held back from assessing these statements but advised the government to work first and foremost to give investors the expectation and confidence to operate in a sustainable investment environment.

On his meeting with the new Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia, the EBRD First Vice-President said the topic of the pace of regulations was also on the agenda.

“On the initiative of the EBRD, there is a Board of Investors in the country. The Prime Minister praised the council as a very valuable tool and promised to listen to businesses more,” he said.

He noted that the Board of Investors is a very effective communication framework between the public and private sectors.

“Important investors in the country have the opportunity to have direct contact with the Prime Minister and with the country’s leadership in general. Usually, this is a very effective way to resolve important issues in the form of consultations with the private sector,” he added.

Rigterink also said that the main achievements of the Council are certain examples related to the process of harmonization with the EU and the legislation related to agricultural land management.

Regarding the frequent governmental reshuffles in Georgia, he said that the EBRD is not a political organization to assess this, but noted that in general, frequent shifts in governments bring a number of challenges and uncertainties.

He noted, however, that the governmental changes in recent years have not created any real problems for the Georgian economy.

“If you look at the macroeconomic indicators, GDP growth, inflation, fiscal deficit – all these areas are quite stable,” Rigterink said.

“The EBRD is not a political organization. We want to work with all governments. We do not do it for the governments but for the Georgian people,” he stressed.

One of the EBRD’s key aims is to support the development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises which are crucial to nurturing a private sector economy. It has already allocated investments worth $3.4 billion in total in Georgia in 235 projects.

By Tea Mariamidze

Image source: kmu.gov.ua

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