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What is Happening around Tbilisi Sulfur Baths?

Who Acts behind Protest Rallies around Tbilisi Sulfur Baths? The Bath Complex Has to Pay Due Tax in Any Case?

Are the Sulfur Baths obliged to pay a tax for use of the sewage system under the officially determined tariff? The dispute refers to the payment for the sewage system employment. A certain part of our citizens demonstrates improper position around the issue.

This part asserts that the issue refers to the sulfur water tariff and Georgian Water and Power demands for increasing the sulfur water tax. This is not true – sulfur water represents the category of natural resources and the bath complex has obtained corresponding licenses and the complex uses sulfur waters thanks to these licenses and the complex is to pay  the officially determined tariffs.

In this case Georgian Water and Power demands for paying tax for application of its own sewage infrastructure. It is of crucial importance that owners of the bath complex and Georgian Water and Power had achieved certain agreement, under which the complex was to pay fixed 700 GEL a month for use of the sewage system.

However, after the change in the Tbilisi Water management, the new management has absolutely lawfully demanded for paying the tariff determined by the Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission (GNERC).

It is another matter why and who achieved  a verbal agreement on payment of 700 GEL fixed tax under the ruling of the previous Authorities.

Everything is clear in this situation, but it would be better if due bodies probe into this case. There is a logic chain to think that protest rallies around the Sulfur Baths is directed  by the forces that aim to show as if the GWP narrows the miserable complex and the Authorities are helpless and inactive in protecting their legal rights….

Owners of the baths complex submit certain arguments and explain their demand that the complex is a  monument of culture and history and a major part of tourists visit them. They also declare that the complex cannot pay the new tariff and the existing revenues cannot cover all the costs.

Additional argument is that GWP demands payment for 24 hours services (the water goes to sewage system for 24 hours), while the complex does not work at full capacity for 24 hours. 

The Sulfur Baths complex has long shifted accent on VIP clients and renting fashionable cabins. Their prices range from 50 to 200 GEL per hour and none of these categories lack of clients in any season of the year. Both domestic residents and foreign tourists equally enjoy the complex services. The cabins work at full capacity days and nights.

The GNERC determines tariffs under the existing tariff methodology for all subscribers and naturally it is not the GNERC’s competence to set a separate tariff for this or that specific consumer.

This is an entirely transparent and open process, because the GNERC has determined tariffs and its elaboration methodology. If the company violates the consumer rights, the subscriber is able to appeal against the violation in different civilized ways, but under the existing information, representatives of the complex have submitted no appeal to the Commission. This is natural, in practice. They apply only emotional background and blackmail elements.

Let’s overview the steps taken by Georgian Water and Power in the dispute process and how this process meets legal frameworks, on the one hand, and logic chain, on the other hand.

GWP offered the bath complex directors to distribute the existing  arrears under reasonable schedule, but they refused this proposal and they agree to pay only the old tariff of 700 GEL.

Because of unpaid taxes GWP sued to the court, the baths complex property was seized as a guarantee (and not the company accounts, while GWP had got the right to seize the complex accounts too), not to cause suspension of the complex operation. GWP has announced that it adheres to civilized forms and it will wait for the court decision.

© Caucasus Business Week