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The News in Brief

Friday, March 29
President to choose the date for his report to Parliament

The constitutional amendments that will restrict the President’s rights and authority have been ratified by Parliament. Now Parliament is prepared to listen to the President’s annual report. Lawmakers say it is up to the President to set the date of his visit to Parliament, which will be afterwards discussed by the Parliamentary Office. (Rustavi 2)

Missing fisherman found dead after storm

The crew of a Georgian fishing boat Wednesday discovered the body of a man, aged 55, drifting in the Black Sea. The deceased, Davit Geladze, had been lost at sea during the storm of March 23rd and was the subject of a search operation. Local media reported that the fishermen took the body to Batumi Yacht Club, where Geladze's relatives identified it. An autopsy is now being conducted.

Two men who were together with Geladze on March 23rd say he was fishing when he was overtaken by a large wave. That was the last they saw of him. The March 23rd storm mostly affected cities and regions on the Black Sea shore, but it was also felt in large cities and towns, including the capital. Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Davit Narmania explained that work has begun to repair the damage. (DFwatch)

National Bank of Georgia reduces monetary policy rate

The National Bank of Georgia has lowered its monetary policy rate to 4.5% upon the decision of the Monetary Policy Committee. The Committee further reduced the forecast of inflation for the next four to six quarters. According to the current forecast, inflation is expected in the current year to be less than expected.

Reducing the inflation outlook was mainly due to reduction in the cost of foodstuffs and municipal services (electricity and sanitation). Georgia's economy grew 2.8 % in the fourth quarter of last year, indicating a decline in economic activity at the end of the year. Low credit activity was still observed in February-March 2013. The National Bank of Georgia will continue to soften monetary policy and reduce interest rates. (Trend)

Georgian ex-speaker’s party to nominate candidate in presidential elections

The Georgian Democratic Movement Party will take part in the presidential elections, party leader Nino Burjanadze said in an interview with Imedi TV on Wednesday. “Our party is not going to participate in the interim parliamentary elections,” she said. However, Burjanadze hopes that Georgia will never have a situation where participation in the elections would not make sense. "Regarding the presidential candidate from our party, I think that it is too early to talk about this." The presidential elections in Georgia will be held in October 2013. (Trend)

US Ambassador comments on the Law on Regular Courts

U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland hopes Georgian Dream and the United National Movement will find a compromise with regard to the Law on Regular Courts. Norland also commented on the constitutional amendments, noting the U.S. Department of State has made a statement in this regard a few days ago. “The US welcomes and is glad about the fact that both parties are working in making important decisions for the country. As for the Law on Regular Courts, I hope a compromise will be achieved in this regard too.” Norland said. (IPN)

New CEO of Georgian Railways Appointed

The Supervisory Board of Georgian Railways appointed Mamuka Bakhtadze as its CEO. Bakhtadze, who holds a MBA from INSEAD, previously served as CEO of the Georgian International Energy Corporation, part of the Georgian Industrial Group. The post of the Georgian Railways CEO had been vacant since Irakli Ezugbaia quit in October 2012. (Civil.Ge)

Georgian airline Airzena starts direct flights to Iraq

Georgian airline Airzena has begun flights from Tbilisi to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. "Having flights from Tbilisi to Iraq is a major improvement for Iraqi and Georgian tourists." Deputy Head of the National Tourism Administration Mariam Kvrivishvili said.

She said that the number of tourists from Iraq to Georgia has recently increased. This created the need of beginning a direct flight between the two countries. “The demand in this direction has sharply increased.” she said. “There were 600 tourists from Iraq in 2011 and 7000 in 2012. Flights will be twice weekly.”

According to the Georgian airline, a one-way ticket costs $250 and a return $450.

“It is important to provide flights to Iraqis because many countries have stopped issuing visas to Iraqi citizens." the deputy head of the Iraqi Civil Aviation Agency said. Before the commencement of flights between Tbilisi and Erbil, Iraqi citizens had to travel to Georgia using their own cars through Turkey. According to Airzena, flights to other Asian countries will begin soon. Around 70 passengers travelled on the first Tbilisi-Erbil flight, as well as the Erbil-Tbilisi one. (Trend)

President to fund master’s degree programs for Georgian citizens in foreign countries

The President will fund master’s degree programs for Georgian citizens in foreign countries from the President’s Reserve Fund. A special commission will be set up for selecting the candidates through competition. Any Georgian citizen with a bachelor’s degree and who has passed exams for an overseas master’s degree program is eligible to take part in the competition. The age of applicants should not exceed 40 years. The President’s Reserve Fund will cover the university fees as well as all other expenses necessary for living in foreign countries. (IPN)