We were thrilled to see Salome Gelashvili, head of the ISET-PI Agricultural Policy Research Center (APRC), actively participate in a UNDP Georgia online discussion. During the virtual roundtable (entitled Local Economic Development and Business Friendly Environment for Municipalities), a variety of notable international speakers, particularly utilizing Czech expertise, came together to consider business development, combatting the rural-urban divide, and the effect of COVID-19 on the informal sector. Working under typical macro socioeconomic perspectives, the experts also looked into the significance of development at a municipal level and the importance of business-friendly municipalities.

Salome joined the panel discussion and presented views based on her extensive experience in the public sector and from various ISET research alongside ISET’s core indexes, which play a key role in gauging business in Georgian municipalities and help highlight burgeoning issues in the business environment. She focused on the research conducted at the municipal level and the importance of availability of the municipal statistical data.

Salome Gelashvili recently became a member of a working group under the Agrarian Issues Committee of the Georgian parliament. The composition of the working group, members of which include the Georgian Farmers Association (GFA), REC Caucasus, and ISET representatives amongst others, was approved on 20 May 2021.

The working group will be established for five months and will discuss the following issues:

• Privatization and leasing of state/municipality-owned registered lands

• Regulation of agricultural land management issues between the state and municipalities

• Resolution of issues relating to leasing state-owned pasture land

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