President Saakashvili said infrastructure, tourism and agriculture development were three main pillars of Georgia’s economy, which should bring doubling of the country’s GDP in next five years.
“Georgia has three main directions in economic development, which will bring a breakthrough in next few years in order to double per capita [GDP] at nominal values in next five years… These are three sectors of our economy are: infrastructure, tourism and agriculture,” he said at a live televised meeting with a group of students at the Free University of Tbilisi on November 8.
On infrastructure development, he focused on hydro power generation capabilities of the country, saying that Georgia had a potential of attracting USD 5 billion in next 7-8 years in this sector. He said full use of this potential would give the country possibility to employ 100,000 people.
On tourism, Saakashvili said, Georgia “has unimaginable tourism potential.”
He said that only Mestia in high-mountainous region of Svaneti “has more tourism potential than entire Abkhazia.” He said Georgia had a potential of attracting 5 million tourists annually in “next few years”.
On agriculture, Saakashvili said, it “is our ideology and part of our identity.”
He said that although Georgia had half of its population in rural areas, the agriculture sector made only 11-12% of the country’s GDP.
“This figure should at least double in next five years,” Saakashvili said. “But we need specialists of this sector; we need technologies and at least GEL 100 million state investments annually in this sector.”
Referring to the recent World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) report, Doing Business 2011, Saakashvili said that Georgia was “the world champion” in reforms.
The report ranks Georgia on 12th place among 183 countries for the easiest economy to do business. The report presents quantitative indicators on business regulations and as its authors say the report is limited in scope as it does not measure all aspects of the business environment.
The 10 economies that made the largest strides in making their regulatory environment more favorable to business in last five years are Georgia, Rwanda, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Saudi Arabia, Mali, Kyrgyzstan, Ghana, Croatia and Kazakhstan, according to the report.
Saakashvili said that Georgia’s ranking in the report meant, that “no other country and no other government in the world has done as much as the Georgian government did to improve doing of business and for creating opportunities.”
Saakashvili, however, also said that the bad news was that according to the recent information by the statistics agency “30% of Tbilisi residents are either totally or partially unemployed.”
“This is catastrophically high figure,” he said.