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Young Businessmen claim mini bus tender winning firms make deals with oil companies

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, March 30
The Association of Young Financiers and Businessmen of Georgia has accused the companies, which won the tender on Tbilisi mini bus (Marshrutka) routes, and the oil companies of “making deals.” The Association held a special press conference on this issue on Tuesday. According to the Head of the Association, Merab Janiashvili, the winning companies are trying to increase mini bus fees “through different ways.”

“When they could not manage to increase the fee directly, because it triggered huge protest, the company started to increase the price indirectly. It means that when the mini bus routes will be handed over to them with already higher price, they will not have to increase the tariff,” Janiashvili noted “it is not a secret for anyone, that the winner firms are close with the government authorities. So, we think that they are making a deal, according to which the diesel price rises and the mini bus fees increase,” he added.

He also claimed that there is an “unhealthy” competition on Georgia’s oil products markets. Janiashvili noted that prices in this sphere are fixed “in contradiction to any economic factors.” “In Georgia we have unimaginable situation in terms of diesel prices, when diesel costs more than petron,” he stated, adding that the situation in oil products and mini bus fields speaks for the “monopoly” existing in some fields of Georgian business. The winner firms have not responded to the claims of the Young Financiers and Businessmen Association.

According to some Georgian media outlets, from April 1, mini bus fees are expected to rise from 50 tetri to 70 tetri. Marshrutka drivers have cited the increase of fuel price as a reason for their decision. “Dear passengers, due to the increase of prices on fuel, we are forced to increase the fee up to 70 tetri from April 1. Thank you in advance for adequately perceiving the problem,” – according to the information agency Interpressnews, this sign was posted on several mini buses in Tbilisi, however, the agency reports that, later the drivers removed the posts from the Marshrutkas.

A special commission of the Tbilisi Mayor’s office in February announced the winners of the tender for the capital’s marshrutka routes. The mayor’s office representatives and the winning companies claimed this would have no effect on marshrutka fares in the country and that the tender was conducted fairly and transparently. Opposition members however had a different view and expressed their confidence that this was “yet another farce” by the authorities.

Tbil-Line Ltd., Capital Group Ltd, Tbil-car Ltd and Public–car Ltd are the four successful companies. They are obliged to bring new minibuses to Tbilisi between October 15, 2011 and October 15, 2012. A memorandum between the companies and the Transport Professional Union has already been signed. The main points of the memorandum are preserving jobs for the drivers and better service provision for Tbilisi residents, Tbil-Line representative, Davit Asanidze said that the company understands its responsibility upon wining the tender. “We are not going to cut the number of drivers,” he noted.