First International Public Private Partnership Conference Held in Tbilisi

On Thursday and Friday, June 20-21, Tbilisi hosted the city’s first International Public-Private Partnership Conference. The aim of the conference was to discuss the structural reforms that the government of Georgia is currently implementing, particularly in the field of management and good governance. There were also discussions on how to leverage public-private partnerships to reduce poverty and make Georgia’s economic growth more inclusive.

Several high-level government officials attended and spoke at the event, including Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Natia Turnava. Bakhtadze told the conference participants that his government is striving to attract more investment, including foreign direct investment, specifically for infrastructure projects. He referenced the Georgian Public-Private Partnership Center, calling it a “unique platform” for encouraging and supporting the government’s investment goals.

“Public-private reform, which is based on international best practices, will be one of the most successful [initiatives] in Georgia,” he said, calling on private sector leaders to approach the Public-Private Partnership Center to develop opportunities for cooperation, and take advantage of the benefits offered by the center.

Also speaking to the conference attendees was Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director for Georgia, Yesim Elhan-Kayalar. Elhan-Kaylar affirmed that Georgia’s recent economic and legal reforms have made the country increasingly attractive to foreign investors.

“The initiatives of the private sector offered by Georgian and foreign investors, are successfully carried out in Georgia,” she said, emphasizing that Georgia’s geographic location is a major advantage for economic development, one which is not currently being fully utilized.

“We are glad to have had an opportunity to support the Georgian government’s efforts towards public-private partnership since 2015,” said Elhan-Kaylar. In 2015, the government passed a law aiming to encourage and facilitate public-private partnerships. The law supports the involvement of the private sector in major projects, including infrastructure.

Louisa Vinton, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Georgia, also spoke, affirming UNDP’s support for the Georgian government’s efforts to strengthen public-private partnership in the country.

Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Natia Turnava said that “Public private partnership is a part of the structural reforms that have received very positive assessments by the international financial institutions. It is very important that correct structural reforms allow us to increase economic growth, make it inclusive and integrate it with the welfare of families.” She focused on the need of infrastructure projects, which require significant financial and technical resources, saying “These are the projects that need to be continued, strengthened and implemented. It is not only the central highway infrastructure, but also other infrastructure projects. We will implement them in all regions, and municipalities are actively involved in the construction.”

Speaking on the morning of June 21, following the night that anti-government and anti-Russian occupation protests erupted, sparking retaliation from Putin’s government banning air travel from Russia to Georgia, there was no mention of how the social turmoil may affect investment.

By Samantha Guthrie

Photo: Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development

24 June 2019 17:39