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Saakashvili, UNM continue to focus on development, bank regulation

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, June 18
Only promising the electorate the continued development of the country, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said he is sure the ruling United National Movement (UNM) will win the elections. Indirectly referring to businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili who according to him has united former government members around his Georgian Dream political coalition, Saakashvili said that a person would have to be either blind or deaf not to realize how “Russian money” is entering the country under the Kremlin’s order.

Saakashvili said that it’s possible to “buy” the politician who can’t cover his/her bank credit but that Georgian statehood and the Georgian people aren’t on sale. “That’s the beauty of a non-corrupt state… the guarantee of stability,” he explained.

“Georgia’s future costs more than the billions and their devaluated dignity,” he said. Discouraging political corruption during the election campaign the president promised they would strictly follow the laws so that the international community would approve of the process.

He said it’s the state institutions that would protect the future of the country.

He also emphasized that he will not let political processes including the elections hinder Georgia’s economic development. Discouraging political parties form making populist promises, Saakashvili spoke using the example of the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) which makes billions of promises to their electorate verbally.

Opening the new Cash Centre of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) in Batumi, Saakashvili praised the banking sector. Welcoming the international success of Georgian banks, he said that “Georgians have banking in their blood.”

He said this building is the symbol of the “new Georgia” which acts to exemplify how the country’s economy is developing. “I know there is still terrible poverty in Georgia so we should work on developing business,” the president said while addressing the bankers and demanding a reduction in interest rates.

Saakashvili said people often worry that they lose their apartments when they can’t pay their mortgage. Advising the banks to be careful when determining their interest rates, Saakashvili said they may get in an “anti-banking mood.” He said credits should be affordable for small and medium entrepreneurs so that they are worth taking.

Zurab Gvasalia President of the Association of Banks of Georgia said it is common for clients to lose their property when they can’t cover their credit expenses. He said those who have experienced such cases had made incorrect assumptions about the credit services. But the interest rates are being decreased and by the end of the year this will become more apparent.

The President of a New Economic School, Paata Sheshelidze, thinks that although the clients attracted by advertisements about the banking services make choices on their own, it’s the National Bank of Georgia which encourages commercial banks to partake in risky activities with their monetary policy regulations. He discouraged the president in his attempt at controlling the private sector, saying that the country would thus go back to the Soviet times when the government was the main entrepreneur.

Political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili said the president has double-standards. “When the leader of the ruling party says he will guarantee democratic elections and then says he would do everything he could to make his party win, we shouldn’t wait for democratization,” Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger.

Tsiskarishvili said on the one hand, though President Saakashvili hesitates to interfere in the activities of private business (TV companies for example), on the other hand he is ready to dictate to banks how to act. He said instead of sharing the humanistic concepts about the freedom of media, he shares Lenin’s values, who happened to the right to free speech suicide.

Saying the country lacks “civilized law,” Tsiskarishvili didn’t feel optimistic about the fairness of the upcoming Parliamentary elections this fall. He said the closer the elections approach, the more facts of oppression become apparent.