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17 Jun, 2007 01:54

Georgia’s reforms please World Bank

Georgia says its economy is experiencing an unprecedented 9% economic growth with foreign investments expected to expand. The World Bank has named the country as the Number one Reformer in 2007.

Mikhail Saakashvili’s government came to power following a bloodless revolution in 2003 and has vowed to change the corrupted and demolished economy.

“Eradicating widespread corruption, the systematic corruption that existed in Georgia is, I think, the most important issue, because everything derives from that. Corruption was the main stopper of everything in development. It was the most destructive force in this country. And I think the job that we did with corruption [is very good – RT] – you know today Georgia is considered one of the top nations in the world in fighting corruption,” says Giorgi Arveladze, Georgian Minister for Economic Development.

The Georgian government is not only self-confident but it also has the support of the West. Georgia was named as the Number one Reformer in 2007 by the World Bank. The business survey showed that despite the Russian trade embargo last year, business goes on. Russia at one time used to be Georgia’s largest market.

“The main driver has been the depth and strength of the reforms that have taken place in the last three years. These are business-friendly reforms, they are well thought-through, and they are extensive. So that our portfolio which is mainly focused on the private sector in this county is reflecting the fact that the private sector investors respond to those reforms,” says Michael Davey, Director for the Caucasus of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

But the government’s goal to boost the economy hasn't necessarily found its way to the grass- roots.

Yes, there are investments coming and there are attempts to revive the agricultural industry, but let’s see what we will get in the end?" says a Georgian man.

Many businesses struggle to survive in the current economic environment despite a more business-friendly atmosphere. Well-known brand names are still out of reach of many people and they still prefer to shop in markets.

The wide economic reforms are welcomed by the Georgian population, though their patience is running out, as there are no visible results. It’s still hard to start a business in Georgia, and even harder to run one successfully. The optimistic government seems to have failed to prove the growth of the country’s economy.