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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Jun
11

Sweet Little Lies – Things That Make Us “Happy”

  On May 17, 2017, the Georgian government adopted amendments to the Tobacco Control Law with 85 votes in favor, and only one against. This highly debated new regulation, which bans smoking in public places, was initiated by Parliament member Ms. Guguli Maghradze who just recently discussed the obesity problem in Georgia, which is caused partly by excess sugar consumption. Georgian public which is familiar with statements turning into law considered Ms. Maghradze’s statement as a prelude to enacting a sugar tax in Georgia. During the informal interv...
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Mar
06

Economic Freedom (Act): Do We Need It or Not?

The so-called “Economic Freedom Act” (EFA), which has been a matter of public discussion in recent weeks, refers to two pieces of legislation: (i) a Constitutional amendment from 2010, which requires a referendum for introducing new taxes or increasing the tax rate, and (ii) the Law on Economic Freedom (2011), in force since 2013, setting a number of additional restrictions to government fiscal policy (Table 1). Table 1. Law on Economic Freedom in Short Number of Tax...
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Nov
05

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

“All the evidence shows that God was actually quite a gambler, and the universe is a great casino, where dice are thrown, and roulette wheels spin on every occasion. Over a large number of bets, the odds even out and we can make predictions; that's why casino owners are so rich. But over a very small number of rolls of the dice, the uncertainty principle is very important” – Stephen Hawking. Casinos, totalizators, and other gambling institutions are very popular in Georgia. According to the study “Gambling in Georgia – Second Report,” conducted by Transp...
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Sep
26

Less Taxes = Higher Growth? Or not?

    Cutting taxes and achieving higher economic growth as a result is every politician’s dream. The 2016 parliamentary elections of Georgia showed just how important and controversial the question of taxation can become.  On the one hand, the Global Competitiveness Index Report that came out this month puts Georgia in the top 10 (9th place) among the countries with lowest tax rates. The current administration’s plans to abolish taxes on undistributed profit is likely to improve this ranking even more. On the other hand, many politicians a...
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Feb
08

Estonia Inspiring Georgian Reformers

There is a lot of affinity among Estonia and Georgia, two tiny nations for centuries caught between the Russian rock and the German or Ottoman/Persian hard place. Common fate may be, indeed, the reason for Georgia’s topping the list of Estonian development cooperation priorities. Georgia is the largest recipient of Estonia’s bilateral aid, most of which is about sharing the Estonian experience of establishing itself as a new European democracy and a unique place to do business. Uniqueness is a huge asset for small countries trying to carve out their nich...
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Nov
14

Tax Inspection With A Human Face?

Apostle Matthew was a tax collector in Galilee -- perhaps the most hated occupation in the ancient world.By quitting his job and deciding to follow Jesus, Mathew accomplished one the greatest transformations possible in a person’s life. Modern tax inspectors are certainly not expected to follow Jesus. However, by following insights from behavioral economics, they may gain in respect and social status while also improving tax collection, in Georgia and elsewhere around the world. As discussed in our previous article, Georgia’s tax administr...
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