Asian Development Bank about Economic Situation and Business Environment in Georgia
Georgia’s investment environment, sectors with the major and most important challenges, and their solution mechanisms - Werner Liepach, director general of ADB department for Central and Western Asia, analyzes these issues for BusinessPartner.
-How would you appraise Georgia’s investment environment?
-Georgia has one of the best investment environments in the region; however, there are several challenges, too. Doing business is simple in Georgia, and the World Bank (WB) ratings also prove this consideration, but you need to satisfy several other conditions to make the country investment-friendly, and sometimes, these components are not satisfactory. I mean infrastructural issues and human resources. That is why ADB has been taking active steps in Georgia. We have been making investments in improving the mentioned directions.
-The Asian Development Bank has implemented large-scale projects in Georgia. Which one is your priority project?
-At this stage, we place focus on infrastructure projects; namely, transport infrastructure and our priorities coincide with the priorities of Georgian government, including the completion of the East-West highway that will enable one to drive from Tbilisi to Batumi in 4 hours. We have also been building the Mtskheta-Stepantsminda-Larsi highway, namely, the Kvesheti-Kobi section.
Besides infrastructural projects, the development of human resources and skills is one of our priority field, namely, making investments in the education sector. When you decide to provide hospitality services, for instance, in the hotel business, your hotel may be beautiful and comfortable, but lacking desirable services and this component requires special skills.
-Does Georgia have problems in the education sector?
-Any country has challenges in education sector. One of the challenges comes from a lack of competitive teachers. Sometimes, I think young people care only for earning money, and teachers do not have opportunities to achieve these objective. Therefore, the authorities should make the profession of a teacher more attractive, including in terms of salaries.
At the same time, for acquiring good professional skills, you need modern-standard laboratories, work places, where people will use their skills in practical life.
_What is your opinion about the Anaklia Deepwater seaport? Is it an important project for Georgia and why?
-There are many reasons why your country needs this project, including shipping, transportation, trade. Your geopolitical location allows the country to become a transit and trade hub. The Anaklia deepwater seaport is important for not only the Georgian economy, but it has a regional importance too, including for Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan. Now the key question is, how quickly the seaport will be built.
First, the consortium needs to attract investments. When implementing similar projects, the private sector is a key field, not the public sector. You need a major sponsor, someone with huge experience in building and managing seaports. I think the Anaklia seaport project's sponsor should be selected cautiously and carefully. This process may take a long time, but this is more expedient. The precise economic calculations are another issue – what kind of cargo will be transported, from which countries, what economic benefits we will receive and so on. Naturally, all these issues require the government’s efficient support.
-Is there probability that ADB join the project implementation?
-Everything is possible. We back the project's implementation. However, there are certain challenges and circumstances, which we discuss at multiple meetings and forums. We have experience in other fields. We have, jointly, built a pipeline in Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. For about 10 years, we were conducting discussions over the issue and finally, all plans were implemented – the pipeline has been constructed. Everything should be done in a timely manner. At the same time, there are issues that should be analyzed for many years. Anaklia is a mega-project, and I believe one day this seaport will be constructed.