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Social Unrest Expected in Winter

The Dilis Gazeti; The Resonance

(Georgian Media Digest. 21.11.01. Civil Georgia) – Tbilisi population arranges street protests like last year due to absence of electricity. Some parts of the city are not provided with sufficient power. Conditions are more alarming in regions. 60 percent of Georgia’s territory is left without any electricity, the Resonance says. Georgian press and government officials presume that social unrest is inevitable in winter.

Inhabitants of Mtatsminda part of Tbilisi had the central Rustaveli Avenue blocked for several hours. Mtatsminda was not provided with power for four days, they said. Lack of natural gas was added to the energy problem as well. 

The Dilis Gazeti blames the government of Georgia in the lack of electricity as well as the whole situation formed in the country. “Unfortunately, at the 10th anniversary of Georgia’s independence the government is unable to take its people into consideration. It is only good at giving plenty of colorful promises”, it says.

The AES TELASI is the main addressee of the street protests. “The American investor company says it can operate one power block only for it is short of finances. This hinders perfect operation of the power system”, director of power dispatching Boris Kozhoradze told the Resonance. According to him, power provided by Georgian energy system is enough for Georgian railway, Tbilisi and Abkhazia only. Big cities of the country are in the system for 2-3 hours a day.

Absence of sufficient electricity is one factor of the crisis. Another factor is that with the decision of Georgian Energy Regulating Commission (GERC) tax on 1 kilowatt-hour electricity is increased up to 12,4 tetri (6 US cents), while price on power decreased to 8,1 tetri in Adjara, and to 8,0 tetri in the rest of the country. At the same time share the AES TELASI gets from the tax paid by Tbilisi inhabitants is doubled, the Dilis Gazeti says. It also points out that together with increasing tax on electricity expenses on purchasing and distributing the electricity got less for the company. In spite of all this, head of the GERC claims it was inevitable to increase tax at this stage.

Tbilisi City Council says the GERC is to blame for tax increase. “The GERC is obliged to regulate taxes on power and defend interests of the population. But It entitled the AES TELASI to make extra investments, which actually led to increasing tax”, it says.

The Dilis Gazeti presumes that it is not just the matter of electricity, which will trouble the population this winter. “Taxes on water, natural gas and telephone are also increased. It seems they mean nothing separately but it will definitely effect the population having monthly income of 12 lari (about 6 USD).



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