Tbilisi, Georgia, June 8, 2007—IFC,
the private sector arm of the World Bank, today released the results of
a comprehensive survey of Georgia’s small and medium business sector.
The survey of some 2,000 smaller business owners revealed that the
government’s reform efforts have resulted in a more favorable environment
for doing business. But it also indicates that business owners are less
optimistic about the future.
IFC conducted the study, “Business Environment
in Georgia 2006,” with financial support from BP, the company’s oil and
gas partners, and the Canadian International Development Agency.
According to the study, business worries
over political instability, corruption, and taxes—once seen as serious
obstacles—have declined significantly since 2003, the last time the survey
Georgia’s improved conditions for business
have been confirmed by the country’s rise in international rankings. The
joint IFC/World Bank report, Doing Business in 2007: How to Reform,
rated the country as the top reformer in the world. In overall ease-of-doing-business
ratings, Georgia came in 37th place —an unprecedented leap from 112th
the previous year.
The new survey suggests that significant
challenges remain, including concerns over tax code ambiguities, licensing
and inspections, and customs inefficiencies. Unfair competition, insufficient
infrastructure development, and ongoing concerns about corruption are highlighted
as well. These issues contributed to the business owners’ lack of optimism:
only 40 percent indicated confidence that the business environment would
continue to improve in the coming year, down from 75 percent in 2003.
The survey also details recommendations
for removing additional barriers to business development. It places emphasis
on the assessment of recent regulatory reforms, their impact to date, and
the steps that still need to be taken to attract increased business activity
to the country.
At a presentation on the survey, Hugh
McDowell, Country Manager of BP Georgia, said, “BP and our oil and
gas partners are committed to contributing to Georgia’s economic and social
development. We recognize that the development of smaller businesses
provides the basis for stable growth, and IFC’s work to improve the country’s
business-enabling environment has already shown results that we are proud
of.” He added, “We believe the IFC project will enhance ongoing reform
efforts in Georgia.”
The survey is one of several ways in
which IFC engages with Georgia’s government to improve legislation and
regulatory practice in permit and license issuance. For example,
work is underway on business inspections, and IFC is planning to work with
the government of Georgia in the near future to improve food inspections
procedures, according to Irina Kokaia, IFC Project Manager.
Simeon Djankov, the author of the Doing
Business report, said, “I am impressed with the commitment of Georgia’s
government to continue reforms. Georgia has made the biggest jump seen
by any country since our report was launched. But reforms need time
to have the desired impact. I hope that the government will continue to
promote reforms that ease business operations in the country.”
IFC, the private sector arm of the World
Bank Group, promotes open and competitive markets in developing countries.
IFC supports sustainable private sector companies and other partners
in generating productive jobs and delivering basic services, so that people
have opportunities to escape poverty and improve their lives. Through FY06,
IFC Financial Products has committed more than $56 billion in funding for
private sector investments and mobilized an additional $25 billion in syndications
for 3,531 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC Advisory Services
and donor partners have provided more than $1 billion in program support
to build small enterprises, to accelerate private participation in infrastructure,
to improve the business enabling environment, to increase access to finance,
and to strengthen environmental and social sustainability. For more information,
please visit www.ifc.org.
IFC in Georgia
Georgia became a shareholder and a member of IFC in 1995. As of January
31, 2007, IFC has invested $180 million in 21 projects in Georgia's financial,
power, oil and gas, and manufacturing sectors. In addition to investments,
IFC conducts advisory programs in Georgia to promote corporate governance
and improve the business-enabling environment with the support of BP and
the Canadian government. The corporate governance project helps companies
and banks improve their governance practices, which has helped bring millions
in outside investment to Georgia. IFC's business-enabling environment
project helps government agencies streamline the regulatory framework for
businesses. It also monitors the local business climate through a regular
survey of entrepreneurs. This survey and the IFC/World Bank Doing Business
report help the government pinpoint priority areas for reform.
BP is of one of the world's largest energy companies. Its main activities
are the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas; refining,
marketing, supply, and transportation; and the manufacturing and marketing
of petrochemicals. BP also has a growing presence in gas, power, and solar
As major investors in Georgia, BP and its oil and gas partners have established
the Regional Development Initiative, an innovative mechanism to provide
a long-term contribution to sustainable socioeconomic development across
Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. It will combine the experience, skills,
and resources of BP and its partners with the expertise of development
organizations. The projects aim to contribute to achievement of national
and international development goals. BP's partners in this effort
are Amerada Hess, AzBTC Ltd., Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy, ENI,
ExxonMobil, INPEX, ITOCHU, Lukoil, NICO, SOCAR, Statoil, Total, and TPAO.
For more information, visit www.bp.com.