Speeches & Statements

Mikheil Saakashvili: We have to turn Rustavi into a success on an international level

I welcome everyone.

I have asked the representatives of the private sector to come here together with the local authorities.

I had an opportunity to visit different places in Rustavi today and this filled me with a great sense of optimism.

The city, which was considered hopeless not only since the Rose revolution, but also during the period of the 2008 presidential elections, is being revitalized as we speak and it is indeed becoming an interesting place.

Many of my friends from different parts of Georgia have visited Rustavi during the recently and they all have been amazed. Perhaps, their impression was little superficial, yet the progress is evident – the facades have been painted, the roads have been paved in all directions, street lights have been installed, new buildings have been built…

All of this is the outcome of significant work and it happened as a result of the substantial economic and infrastructural progress.

The city where the population would only have water for 2 hours a day, in some cases once in 2-3 days, has water for 24 hours a day almost everywhere today. This is unimaginable progress.

No other place in Georgia has seen such progress in so little time.

In the city where the unemployment rate was at 30-40 percent we have had progress in this regard as well. If I remember it right, a Swiss development agency conducted a survey a while ago and according to the latest results this indicator has dropped to 10 percent.

This is indeed great progress.

There have been 15-20 thousand jobs created during the last 3-4 years in a city where the population is a little over 100 thousand. This is a result that to some extent we can be proud of.

I have met the population in a few districts and neighborhoods of Rustavi today and I would like to especially tell the representatives of the city administration – I had a feeling that there is lot more to be done from the local authorities, they need to devote more attention and have frequent contact with the people, with every single person.

There have been five new factories opened in the city since the 2008 war. This would have been an unpleasant surprise for Georgia’s conquerors and those wishing to destroy it.

There are representatives of the Georgian cement factory “Heidelberg Cement” present here. This factory was launched in 2008. There are 535 people employed at the factory. It produced a record amount of cement (608 thousand tons) last year. This much cement had not been produced during the soviet times, but I think that you have a chief problem – your company is very slow in increasing production.

The level of construction growth in Georgia is twice and three times higher than the supply rate that you offer to satisfy the demand. We are forced to import cement from abroad because of the inability of local factories to work at full spin.

It is important that the new manufacturing powerhouses are opened and operational. This is a very major issue.

Based on our forecast, construction in Georgia should further cover several dozen million square meters in the next 2-3 years. 

There are new cities being built, e.g. Lazika with a population of half a million that cannot be built in a snap, yet we can build a city with several tens of thousands of people quite fast – faster than you can imagine it. There is a huge port being built there as well.

We are building ski resorts as well: we are starting an unimaginable construction in Tskaltubo; there will be 120-130 million GEL spent on the reconstruction of Kakheti this year only. In effect, this is the launch of new construction.

There are unbelievable construction works underway in Kutaisi. There has never been as much construction in Tbilisi as now.

The size of Batumi is increasing three times as a result of the construction works during these years. Practically, a new city is being built there as well.  

As regards the roads, we are building a Rustavi-Tbilisi autobahn; the main autobahn and many other things.

With all of this in mind, no matter how many factories you create, demand on cement will always be increasing. Hence, hopefully it will be possible to double the number of employees at your factory. This will be additional 500-600 jobs for the residents of Rustavi; at least in terms of these powerhouses.

I remember when we started to work on the issue of the Nitrogen factory few years ago; barely 500 people were employed there who would not receive their salaries for months. There are 2,360 people working there today, whose average salary is approximately 850 GEL. With the factor of the plant’s extension the number of jobs should further increase (the launch of Carbide production is scheduled in 2012).  

The factories do not have problems in sales of their production and 85 percent is exported.

People from the countryside will also benefit from the Nitrogen factory production – in exchange for the 30 GEL voucher they will be able to receive fertilizers from the Rustavi Nitrogen factory for their spring works.

As regards the metal construction factory, it should be mentioned that this factory has produced the dome of the President’s palace. In fact, when the construction works were underway, it was my principal demand to use local materials.

The Batumi customs terminal and the Public Service Hall have been constructed using the materials of the same factory.  These are your works, but now I would like to contract you for the street lights of Lazika. The illumination for the new city’s avenue is planned using very sophisticated metal construction lights. 

Many suggested ordering the lighting abroad, but personally I categorically refused it. This construction might not seem simple, but given the vast experience that the Rustavi metal construction factory already has, it is important that you do this. I believe you will do it successfully as well.

The plant has launched a new line of work and is now producing industrial elevators. This is a very good initiative, as we are constantly importing industrial or other types of elevators. It will also be possible to produce the port elevators here in the future. You can perhaps increase the number of employees to a thousand if you increase your production through cooperating with different companies (Siemens, Schroeder, etc). 

Yet, this requires substantial retooling, as you will constantly have orders. Georgia will become an industrial hub for you and considering not only Georgia’s potential, but that of the whole region, this enterprise has a huge prospect.

The steel fixtures produced by “Geosteel” have very good resonance as well. You have a very good start, as people give priority to your material over imports. I believe the quality will further improve.

It is very important that a factory that started from a scratch already has 600 employees.

I remember being present when the factory foundation was laid, yet the main point was what would there be afterwards. It all developed truly well as this factory supports 600 families and people are very happy.

A very good thing has happened.

6,000 people have been employed in the auto markets. In other words, those people who would always stand still earlier are employed now and have in addition, about 100 USD per every car sold.

About 5,000 cars have been re-exported in December, while the pace is constantly increasing. This is how big of a centre it has become, a specifically selected place – the Rustavi entrance. This is the policy of the Government.

This brought several dozen million in revenue to the country last year and employed 6 thousand people.  This is what coordinating an industrial and trade policy is all about. 

The existing human resources in industrial policies have been well used by your enterprises. I would like to tell you that there are still lots of good specialists here.

We will invest a lot of money in retraining these people in order to give them a specific professional orientation and for them to find you.

We will provide you with the human resources ready for jobs. Many more people have to be able to find jobs.

We can reduce unemployment to zero.

In fact, there is a lack of human resources in the police and a few other state agencies, where they do have salaries; we cannot find people as the industrial enterprises have taken them.

One could not dream of this a while ago.

Certainly, we still have unemployment, but people are mostly complaining about low salaries now.

If we overcome unemployment, we will take care of increasing salaries and gradually we will reach this as well. This is great progress and it is you who have reached it.

Certainly, there are still many problems in Rustavi, but the progress is evident and this progress should be tenfold. Together with you, we will make this possible.

 Regarding the orders for a wagon repairing factory, it needs to be said that although it is true that Georgian railways is the largest contractor, there are orders from the Armenian and Azerbaijani railways as well.

You should also bear in mind that we are connecting our railway to the Turkish railway network and these orders will be regular in the future. We will become a part of the European railway.

We still think on a micro level and imagine our market only on a regional scale. We are, in effect, becoming a part of a very big, world network.

We have to think globally and this primarily concerns the government. We have to understand that we are accessing a big, competitive market, where our small country will also establish its place.

I do not mention “Singapurisation” in vain – we have similar indicators of population, yet in terms of territory Singapore is significantly smaller.

Singapore started everything through trade and simplification of bureaucracy – basically, did everything that we did, yet more efficiently and much faster. After this it created great industrial powerhouses.

Georgia can surely create great industrial powerhouses. During previous years we only focused on rescuing things such as robbery or destruction which had begun in Soviet times.  We were trying to reanimate these factories, but there are lots of new things that can be done as well, including in your sphere.

We are currently establishing a faculty of industrial design at the Technical University. In this regard, we had invited very famous Italian designers and are already working on technical equipment, design and training of human resources.

Most importantly we need to ensure access to new markets, for which we need proper marketing.

We will assist you in everything – The state’s function is to lobby for you.

You can take many more orders than you can imagine, though it all requires planning, on which we all have to work together.

This was about employment.

I would like to go back to the issue of infrastructure as it is very important.

There is an Olympic standard swimming pool being built in Rustavi this year; buildings of sport complexes are underway, roads are being paved and yards refurbished, water supply is improving in places where it has not been done, repairing of roofs and elevators are underway, as well as many other projects.

In the end, this should be a very comfortable city to live in. It should retain the function of an industrial center and living here should become a privilege.

Rustavi has changed a lot externally, but the change has to be reflected qualitatively.

We have to well generalize what has been done for recent years – more than we could imagine has been done here, yet the more work we do the more it becomes evident how much still needs to be done.

Yet, it needs to be mentioned that the progress is already tangible here, which means that making a significant jump forward is possible as well.

I would like you to know that our main goal is lobbying for you as businesses and enterprises that exist here, to ease work for you to a maximum extent and make sure no one disturbs you. 

There have been specific cases before when some people disturbed your work – they even tried to organize strikes and sabotage and attempted to monopolize markets, yet together with you we are working to get rid of artificial barriers either within the country (which is easier) or outside of it.

This is one of the main functions of the government.

I very much hope that we will continue work to make this city a beacon of success not only within Georgia, but also on an international scale. This is achievable.

People are hopeful today, these people already see certain progress and a light at the end of the tunnel has appeared too – we had practically lost such hope before and they need much more care, kindness and attention.

I thank you once again. 

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