ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Jan
29

Fighting Drug Addiction: Can Georgia Do It Better? An Economist's View of Georgia’s Drug Policy Reform

Drug policy reform is now at the center of a heated debate in Georgia. Despite the importance of the subject, however, most of the discussions I have heard so far are based on phobias and myths, rather than on evidence. This is a pity, as society will ultimately have to decide on the subject by voting YES or NO on this reform, thereby choosing between very different potential outcomes. Having an informed opinion on the issue is, therefore, extremely important. Let’s start from the beginning - what are Georgia’s major drug-related problems? 1. Georgia ran...
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Dec
23

Who Gets to Eat from the Growing Pie?

  2017 is shaping up as one of the best years in Georgia’s post-2008 crisis history. The economy is expected to expand by about 5%, beating early expectations and official forecasts by the likes of the IMF and the World Bank. Based on updated GeoStat figures for Q1 and Q2, ISET-PI’s annual growth forecast currently stands at 4.9%. Even that figure is likely to be revised upwards if Q3 growth turns out to be higher than suggested by GeoStat’s preliminary estimate of 4.4%. Georgia is not alone in experiencing a boom. In fact, it is rising with a tide ...
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Dec
11

Do You Have Questions About the Upcoming Pension Reform? Here Are Some Answers

Over the past months, we have been asked several times questions about the upcoming pension reform. Here are some answers. For whom is the contribution to the fund mandatory? Who can join/contribute to the fund? All those individuals who receive their salary net of taxes because their employer pays the income tax for them are automatically enrolled in the fund. Those who are 40 or more years of age will have – after 3 months in the fund – the possibility to opt out. However, this “window” to opt out will close after the 5th month in the fund. Those who a...
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Nov
27

Does Georgia Need Highly Educated Workers?

A pleasant surprise awaited me on my first day as a student of Tbilisi State University’s Business and Economics Faculty. Thanks to my performance on the national admission exam (ერთიანი ეროვნული გამოცდები), I was inducted into the so-called “Elite Group,” piloted by TSU in an effort to attract Georgia’s best and brightest. There were 50 of us in the group, mostly from working class families, and none felt like they belonged to any kind of “elite.” In the end, I really enjoyed my “elite” status. Not because I could assert dominance over “mere mortals,” b...
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Oct
23

Telavi, the Capital of Georgian Beer Drinking?

Telavi, the former capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti, is a beautiful town with spectacular views of the Alazani Valley and Caucasian mountains. In the 18th century, King Erekle II reigned from Telavi. The palace can still be seen, and the statue of King Erekle stands proudly in the middle of the city's town square. More importantly for the city dwellers, Telavi is the capital of Georgia’s traditional winemaking.  This month, however, the capital of Georgia’s winemaking has for a couple of days become the capital of Georgian beer drinking, in the bes...
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