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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Mar
13

How to Prevent the Tobacco Law from Going Up in Smokes?

BACKGROUND After a hike in excise tax on cigarettes in January 2017, Parliament of Georgia is going to introduce legislative changes to the existing tobacco control law (TCL) in March. Since its enactment in 2003, TCL has been modified several times. However, the recently proposed changes can be considered the most radical step towards a tobacco-free society in Georgia. New draft law comprehensively covers production, packaging, marketing, advertising, selling and consumption of tobacco, and other activities of tobacco businesses. The main changes can be...
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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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Feb
20

Price and Prejudice on the Georgian Market for Cigarettes

Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Yet we have a tax that could prevent hundreds of millions of premature deaths. It is time to use it more effectively. -Prabhat Jha It is a truth universally acknowledged, that cigarettes are bad for human health. Yet, whenever the government tries to regulate consumption of cigarettes by increasing their price, it gets a very mixed reaction from the public. Some people (mostly non-smokers) welcome these policies, while others accuse the government of ...
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Feb
04

How to De-Dollarize in a Smart Way: Lessons from the Georgian and Foreign Experiences

Unofficial (partial) dollarization describes a situation when a foreign currency is used alongside the domestic currency for transactions purposes and as a store value. High partial dollarization is not good for a country, as it ties the hands of its Central Bank when it wants to use monetary policy. In a highly dollarized economy, national currency depreciation can even lead to financial instability. As a transition economy, Georgia is characterized by high levels of dollarization. Therefore, recent waves of lari depreciation has prompted authorities to...
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Dec
19

What Chile teaches Georgia

In 1991, the former finance minister of Chile, Alejandro Foxley, said in an interview: “We may not like the government that came before us. But they did many things right. We have inherited an economy that is an asset.” About twenty years before, General Augusto Pinochet had toppled the democratically elected President of Chile, Salvador Allende. Pinochet’s rule from 1973 to 1990 was characterized by severe violations of human rights, yet finally he agreed to hold a referendum on his political future, and when the Chilean people voted against him, he ste...
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