TI Georgia files a lawsuit against the Ministry of Finance
For immediate release
Today Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia) lodged a complaint in Tbilisi City Court, seeking the annulment of the order #30 issued by the Finance Minister on January 25, 2013, as well as its subsequent order #4257 of February 6, issued by the Head of the Revenue Department. These orders have led to the restriction of customs procedures for small and medium-sized carriers, allowing Georgian Post to acquire a dominant position.
Under the Finance Minister’s order № 30, substantial changes were made to the procedures on importing/exporting goods to and from the customs territory of Georgia, as well as submitting declarations. This has created serious problems for the entrepreneurs engaged in the carrier business in Georgia.
TI Georgia was asked by a group of local entrepreneurs to assist them in the matter. According to them, the regulations are intended to drive out the private companies of the market and secure a monopoly for one carrier in particular: Georgian Post.
Our organization has analyzed the regulations mentioned above and concluded that the relevant orders of the Finance Minister and the Head of the Revenue Department are inconsistent with the Georgian legislation and should therefore be abolished by all means. The foremost reasons being:
The introduction of the new requirements under the Finance Minister’s order virtually imposes the license / permit regime which constitutes a violation of Article 4, paragraph 2 of the Georgian Law on Licenses and Permits, since such requirements can only be imposed by law;
The Minister’s order violates the equilibrium of the market and restricts competition, securing an advantageous position for the dominant carrier in the Georgian market: Georgian Post. This contradicts Article 30, section 2 of the Constitution which imposes an obligation upon the government to promote the development of free entrepreneurship and competition. Also, pursuant to Article 3, sub-paragraph "r" of the Georgian Law on Free Trade and Competition, the order issued by the Minister constitutes governmental assistance to Georgian Post which is in violation of the procedures established in Article 12 of the same law.
While working on the issue, TI Georgia representatives met with the Finance Minister who expressed his readiness to continue working with our organization to improve customs procedures. However, since the enactment of the above order, the companies have not been able to perform their routine activities. This opens up the risk of these companies being eventually expelled from the market and the dominant company gaining further ground. The Ministry of Finance’s failure to take any concrete steps to improve this situation has led to our decision to appeal to court.