Vendors Protest over 'Severe Tax Penalties'
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 21 Oct.'10 / 23:57

Georgia's one of the largest outdoor markets in Tbilisi outskirts was stalled on October 21, when part of vendors there went on a brief strike complaining against, what they call, complicated tax regulation and strict tax enforcement resulting in severe penalties.

Traders at Lilo bazaar complained that dozens of shops were closed down by the tax authorities after finding alleged violations and for the purpose of further inspection of financial papers.   

The rally outside the market was joined by a group of opposition politicians from the National Forum party, whose leaders, present there, said they had arrived after they were informed by traders about thier problems. When the opposition politicians and traders, accompanied by journalists, decided to enter inside the market to see closed shops, the personnel from the market security service barred them from entry, leading to a scuffle. During the incident police, which intervened later, arrested one activist from the National Forum.

The tax authorities have denied that shops were closed in the market and said that it was a routine tax inspection to reveal cases of tax evasion through violation of accounting rules.

Earlier in October dozens of vendors were rounded up at another market in Tbilisi in connection to, what the authorities said was, a fake importation document scheme. Twenty nine traders were released on bail and five of them sent to a pre-trial detention.

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