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Business Sector Proposes to Expand Business Ombudsman’s Functions

The United National Movement (UNM) political party demands for abolishing the Business Ombudsman’s office. The parliament’s minority has already prepared the due legislative bill.

The bill’s preface reads that the draft law was initiated because of inefficiency of the Business Ombudsman’s institute. This office could not fulfill its functions and duties, the document asserts.

The UNM offers to abolish  the Business Ombudsman’s Office and to transmit its functions to the Public Defender’s Office.

Enforcement of the mentioned bill in 2019-2021 will decrease the budget revenue part by about 83.7 thousand GEL a year.

“In the event all 10 specialists employed at the Business Ombudsman’s Office move to the Public Defender’s Office, the budget’s revenue part will increase by about 61 200 GEL a year”, the bill authors say.

The Caucasus Business Week (CBW) has inquired how efficiently the Business Ombudsman’s Office works and whether it is necessary to maintain the Business Ombudsman’s Office in the current form.

Zurab Lalazashvili, managing partner for BDO auditor company, disagrees with the idea of abolishing the Business Ombudsman’s office and integrating it into the Public Defender’s Office. As to its efficiency, Lalazashvili explains that the Business Ombudsman’s Office has resolved many issues very well and efficiently.

The business ombudsman’s office assists the business sector in resolving the protracted issues and cases and its integration into the Public Defender’s Office will make the whole process inefficient, Lalazashvili said.

“Therefore, this office should have the platform for cooperation with various offices to genuinely and efficiently resolve problems in the business sector. It should not be only an criticizing and opposing instance only revealing somebody, who inefficiently executes his/her functions. If we talk about the tackling problems in business sector, the current form and platform is the most efficient”, Lalazashvili said.

Iva Chkonia, president of Distributors Association explains that the Business Ombudsman’s Office is necessary and this office has performed huge job. Those, who propose to integrate it into the Public Defender’s Office, are incompetent people in this part, because the Public Defender cannot cope with the tasks that the Business Ombudsman does.

Five or six specialists working for the Business Ombudsman’s office cannot burden the state budget, Chkonia noted.

“The Business Ombudsman’s Office has fulfilled huge job, including for our Association. Its support is of crucial importance for us. We have resolved a lot of issues jointly and they perform efficient job.

Naturally, the business ombudsman’s person is very important. I am deeply grateful to Mr. Irakli Lekvinadze and his predecessor Zurab Dznelashvili, who was an acting business ombudsman for a certain period. Over the past week, as a result of consultation, the technical regulations for delivery of information about food products to consumers, approved under government’s resolution N301 on July 1, 2016 will be enforced on March 1, 2019, instead of September 1, 2018.

This issue was postponed by our request and Mr. Irakli Lekvinadze reacted to our letter immediately. This issue was approved on the first government meeting. Otherwise, the counters would be emptied. Irakli is a very competent person and he treats all issued competently. I believe this is a necessary institute”, Iva Chkonia said.

Irakli Iashvili, head of East gate Group supervisory board, noted the Business Ombudsman’s institute is necessary unless resolution of two aspects. First of all, judicial system should be improved to the level, when business sector will be able to resolve  problems in court system or arbitration without spending many years. Another issue is related to the problem of bureaucracy.

Both problems are sharpest in the country. Therefore, the business ombudsman has very clear place and role.

Itsik Moshe, head of Georgia-Israel Chamber of Business  explains that the business ombudsman’s functions should be expanded if the country wants to attract investments.

Itsik Moshe, president for Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business, disapproves the mentioned bill and states the business chamber had two successful cases with the Business Ombudsman’s Office under Giorgi Gakharia and now the Chamber is cooperating with the office on four other issues.

‘We have noted many times that the Business Ombudsman’s functions should be expanded if we want to attract investments to Georgia. The Business Ombudsman should be able to timely react to investors’ needs and problems. The business ombudsman’s support to investors is of crucial importance, because they are afraid of standard bureaucratic processes in a foreign country.

A country is measured by not the volume of investments, but timely and adequate reaction to the problems of investors, who enter this country”, Itsik Moshe said.

Nino Zambakhidze, head of Georgian Farmers Association says that it is of crucial importance that the Business Ombudsman’s Office exist separately.

“Businessmen find it very difficult to cope with the bureaucracy that exists in the country. The business ombudsman ensures good and efficient communication with various offices”, Zambakhidze noted.

The Business Ombudsman’s functions should be expanded. This office should not be subjected to the Prime Minister and it should be formed as a separate organization, she said.

“The state economy, small and medium business needs serious development and it is impossible that the Public Defender fulfill functions of the Business Ombudsman”, Zambakhidze said.

The current office of the Business Ombudsman is quite efficient and useful, she said.

“I can say from my personal sample and name persons who have applied to the Business Ombudsman and as a result, various problems were resolved. This office provides special job for business companies in regions. I have sent even a letter of gratitude to the Business Ombudsman. Moreover, I know that various countries have expressed intention to share our experience to their countries. I do not think the developed countries would be interested in useless practice. Therefore, I disapprove the UNM initiative for abolishing the business ombudsman’s office”, Zambakhidze said.