An interview with the founder of the construction company Ator Beso Tkhelidze
The rate of the national currency in recent period has fallen sharply. What did it change for your company?
What is happening in the country, of course, is very bad, but it did not affect us as much as others. Our sales have not reduced, we do not plan to revise our investment projects. If the lari rate were higher, perhaps we would sell 5 apartments instead of 3 but we do not complain about the figures we have now. Most of our customers are Georgians living abroad. This is precisely the category which buys the apartment in cash. So, for them the lari fluctuations have no significance, because they live abroad.
Do you plan to cut wages or reduce staff?
On the contrary, we intend to increase salaries by an average of 30-40%. We sell apartments in dollars, and give out salaries in the lari, respectively devaluation has allowed us to increase salaries.
How are things going with your investment projects? Whether there are any changes in your plans?
We are currently working on a new project, in particular, are going to build a new school in Tbilisi – it will be a multidisciplinary center that can accommodate up to 1 000 children. We are negotiating with the government, and if the project is successfully implemented, we also intend to build a sports school.
Do you need any assistance from the state?
We need the legislative assistance. For example, the exemption from property tax in the case of reinvestment. If this decision is made, then we will have more resources for other projects. I’ve lived in Europe for 7 years, and I know that the government and business there work together very closely, carry out many joint projects. In Georgia, we have not yet reached it.
There is a lot of talk about active cooperation between the state and business. What is your opinion on this issue?
The only project in which the government has cooperated with the business was the Olympic Village project, but there are nuances here that cannot be beneficial for the country. For example, many areas were handed over to the construction company Hualing for free that was exempted from the payment of VAT for 10 years. The state has lost more over 3 years than Hualing invested in Georgia.
In fact, companies such as ours are losing their jobs. We can build all the same that Hualing built if the state helped us with low-interest loans. Ultimately, the state would remain in the win. Unfortunately, the government does not support a local business, despite a fact that we create jobs for the local population, as the Chinese mostly brought workers from China as well as the Turks prefer the Turks.
Our company employs mainly local citizens, the minimum wage is GEL 2 000-3 000 per month. If at least 1 000 such companies as ours operated in Georgia , it would be sufficient for economic growth.