On 13th of July “Rustavi 2” broadcast one more slanderous and harmful reportage about our factory on the TV programme “Shabatis Kurieri”. The television company accused us for stealing 60 million lari of the Budget money and brought veteran condrabandist and so-called “business man” Zaza Oquashvili as a witness. His well-doings and good heart toward Georgian Budget is known since the very 90s of 20th century. Nowadays he owns the tobacco company “OGT”, which has 50 million lari debt to Georgian Budget and does not pay the debt toward the retired pensioners, teachers and policemen. On the other hand, the company “Rustavi 2” is in debt toward our country already for years, while we pay 60 million lari per year to the Budget and do not have a debt of even a single tetri.
The Revenue Service of the Ministry of Finance has already made an announcement about the reportage broadcasted on TV channel “Rustavi 2”. They have confirmed that the material shown was slanderous and based on the lies. The information sent to “Rustavi 2” was strongly manipulated and aimed to base the society.
The Revenue service also claims in the announcement that it is clearly a lie that the State Budget has been damaged by a corruption scheme and lost 60 million lari because of it. This is absurd and can be checked with a very easy arithmetic calculation.
In the statement, it is also underlined that except for the company “OGT” no other company working in the tobacco business, has no debt to the state budget and by selling excise stamps in December 2018, the budget has fully received the funds that belonged to it.
This is the truth that is the only tip of the problem and can not answer the main question why the Rustavi 2 and Zaza Oquashvili are fighting against the Georgian tobacco production for years.
We will try to find a convincing answer to that.
The point is that local tobacco production is competing with tobacco importer mega corporations that have great potential and impacts. They have monopolized the filter cigarette Georgian market and are trying to expel Georgian companies' cigarettes from 12% dumping prices. For the population to be aware of it, we will explain it - they sell cigarettes at lower prices than the self cost of it and thus destroy local production, as opposed to them, we can not work for years to lose. Obviously, they compensate these losses from the filter cigarette segment, as soon as the local industry expands from the market, the segment will increase prices momentarily. At first glance, it does not have any formal significance for who will make money in the budget, but in practice it means leaving three thousand unemployed and aggravating the social background. This is the other side, the restriction of local production is accompanied by a steady increase in the price of tobacco, which is already on the face and hardens the majority of the country's population.
Unfortunately, the government could not effectively fight the dumping prices and we still have to work on the edge of the present. Hope came a year ago when the government decided to launch a local mobility project and build tobacco plantations in Lagodekhi and Adjara. The project would have employed a lot of people and given Georgian companies the opportunity to increase the product range and market share. The project was disrupted by Zaza Oquashvili, who sold the interests of local production to the importers and destroyed the opportunity to improve.
Today, when Gvaramia has openly and aggressively stripped of Georgian wine, a large part of the public just learned about Gvaramia's enmity to Georgian products. However, "Rustavi 2" has been planning to discredit Georgian tobacco production and demonstration of our plant management and shareholders. They appeal to the exclusive links and influence in the government of businessman and our shareholder Vano Chkhartishvili. However, the facts indicate the opposite. What kind of an impact could we possibly have, when we have been working in a dumping environment fr years? We do not have any budget debts when the Oquashvili’s company has been paying for millions of liabilities for years and unequal conditions; With the introduction of new excise stamps, the order of the importers was made in order to stop our factory.
The society should know that the Georgian tobacco industry is being fought by, as the observed eye would have already noticed, Rustavi 2 and Oquashvili. Behind them there are easily noticeable interested political groups and, of course, tobacco influencers.
We, the people employed in "Tbilisi Tobacco", first of all, have questions with the government, whose priority is the local production. However, in our case, we have to implement the will of importers at the expense of local production and to facilitate employment in other countries by abolishing our jobs. If so:
- Why did the government impose an additional excise for the Georgian production, which led to the fact that the producing has almost stopped and prices have been drastically increased for low-income population?
- Did not a campaign of cigarette smoking restrict the destruction of Georgian production and do any groups in power represent the interests of a lier Fadi Asli?
-Why is that, that our repeted request to the prosecutor's office, to immediately open an investigation into all the officials, who are closing their eyes to the company "OGT" stealing money from the state budget and by encouraging dumping promote destruction of Georgian production, the result is not seen?
- Why does not anyone pay attention to the political situation of this case, what if “Rustavi 2” is acting this way at the orders of The National Movement to give a hand to our social riot? The first thing is that thousands of families are left hungry, and secondly, the protests of low-income populations will be increased to 3,3 GEL instead of 2,5 GEL after the introduction of excise. Anyone thinking about this in government?
Our company, "Tbilisi Tobacco" team, which combines more than 1500 people, starting from the administrator and regular service, has been working hard to prevent not to act dramatically and this is the reason why the enemies of Georgia tobacco production have felt free to destroy us. We are aware of all the subjects of the coalition against our factory and their criminal steps. They should know that they will not succeed in destroying our enterprise and will do our best to save our jobs and save Georgian tobacco. All the subjects involved in the campaign against our factory will receive legal and other appropriate responses, whether it is a dishonest importer company and their patrons of former or current officials, Zaza Oquashvili, or Rustavi 2, the one spreading the lies for them.