Our economy is healthy - Dimitri Kumsishvili
Our economy is healthy and it will definitely develop – this statement was made by the First Vice-Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance. According to Dimitri Kumsishvili, a lot of steps should be taken.
“We should take a lot of steps for more local enterprises, export and open markets. Making investments is also too important. There are the reforms I have already spoke about,”-Dimitri Kumsishvili said.
Steadfast transit to digital economy is a factor of successful integration of modern system of the global economy
Introduction of digital system into all spheres and branches of national economy is a main direction of the Programme of the President of Turkmenistan for social and economic development of the country in 2020 – 2025 and important condition for achievement of the level of developed countries, provision of stable rates of economic growth based on knowledge and innovations.
The solution of this objectives will also support to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by all country members including our state of the UN until 2030.
President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has specified active implementation of information technologies, establishment of safe IT infrastructure, which provides relative terms for rapid digitization process, which gains acceleration every day, among national strategic priorities in mid-term perspective.
Gradual and steadfast transit to digital economy is an important factor of successful integration of our state to modern system of the world economy.
Today, all countries of the world pay special attention to digitization, legimately thinking that future level of the world economic growth will depend from the efficiency of using of digital technologies.
Competiveness, innovations and opening of new work places, all of these is mainly determined by the technologies. That is why Turkmenistan actively pursues the course toward rapid modernization by cultivation of new industries using application of digital technologies.
Review of objectives taking into account current external factors of globalization and appearing risks is required in any sphere. The Ministry of Finances and Economy, which practically implements financial, tax and budgetary, investment and pricing policy, policy in the sphere of insurance, auditing activity, accounting, financial reporting, financial safety as well as coordination of work of all ministries and departments of the country for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, carries out big work for digitization.
The Single Portal of the State Service of Turkmenistan (e.gov.tm) presents the website of the Ministry of Finances and Economy (fineconomic.gov.tm), Tax Department (tax.gov.tm) and Service of Financial Monitoring (turkmenfmd.gov.tm/) together with websites of other ministries, departments, establishments and organizations of the country.
The website of the Ministry has been updated, informational content has been expanded, in particular the page of Sustainable Development Goals and their implementation has been added.
Legal and regulatory base for digitization of activity has been made in the country. It is permanently improved taking into account modern requirements, scientific and technical developments including exchange of data and electronic documents, general identification processes. Work for introduction of digital technologies in regional services and lower structures is carried out on this base.
Central balance commission coordinates development of methodological bases of internal system controls of accounting and reporting of economic entities. Digital systems have started to be introduced in this sphere in the last years.
Thus, digital support is used during the sessions. It includes provision of huge volume of analytical and calculation materials reflecting outcomes of financial and economic activity of the branches, facilities and organizations to the members of the sessions. In future, this work will be arranged with regional commissions, in particular by introduction of information technologies.
According to the Law of Turkmenistan on Accounting and Financial Reporting, initial accounting documents and registers will be made in hard and soft copies and both formats have equal legitimate validity.
Digitization of accounting has started to be applied starting from collection of initial data to producing of reporting. Programme products for automation of accounting and reporting are developed and started to be used. In future, it will be implemented in all spheres. However, capability of provision of qualitative, reliable and convenient accounting is the main requirement for the software.
Adoption of the Law of Turkmenistan on Electronic Document, Electronic Document Management System and Digital Services, which specifies legal provision of these documents and services and their main requirements, was an important event of this year. The law is aimed at regulation of relations appearing in this sphere as well as at establishment of single space for informational exchange.
Based on this law and by the request of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the Ministry of Finance and Economy has introduced electronic document management system in the Central Administration, General Finance and Economy Departments of Ashgabat and regions as well as in all structures under its supervision from July 1 this year.
It has allowed significantly improving the exchange of information, efficiency of using of work time, making the base for archiving of materials and provision of control for timely fulfilment of the documents.
System of Electronic tax is introduced to document management system of Tax department. The main goal of this system is to transfer to electronic format of obtaining of tax declaration from taxpayers, which will facilitate the system of reporting from one hand and to enforce control of collection of tax payments including provision of information to tax payers about arrears to the State Budget of the country on another hand.
At the same time, it is proposed to make desk audits of taxpayers in electronic format without invitation of them to relative authorities and based on tax declarations and other documents. Activity with crediting organizations for establishment of electronic document management system will be introduced on the second stage.
The Department of the State Registration of legal entities and investment projects also works on introduction of the electronic document management system in certain procedures related to the state registration, re-registration and elimination of legal entities.
At present time, local network between the central administration and regional registration departments has been established and operates. It allowed facilitating the system of agreeing on the documents between structural divisions in the regions and Ashgabat.
Automated order of reception of applications for confirmation of name of legal entities and approval of documents for their registration or re-registration is introduced. It will also give an opportunity to increase the level and quality of work of registration departments, eliminate barriers and reduce material and physical cost of citizens and legal entities in registration procedures.
The website of the Ministry has published normative documents and list of required documents, samples of applications in the section of registration of legal entities. Online format of applications has been made. It is planned to organize payment for registration and confirmation of names in online format.
Structure of new database of the Single State Register of Legal Entities (SSRLE) is under development. Soon, it is planned to launch several online services for registration of legal entities as well as to facilitate the order of registration and provision of information from the SSRLE.
Objectives and measures of digitization are discussed at the government sessions and meetings. The Head of the State always points out that innovations are not only implemented technologies but the process of their permanent update and the way of further development of Turkmen economy.
Financial and economic sector gradually improve work for digitization, introduces electronic systems to various activities. Thus, organization of various online seminars, conferences, trainings with international financial institutes, organizations and foreign partners has been established.
“Invest to Turkmenistan” website (invest.gov.tm) has been opened for fulfilment of assignments of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on promotion of information about economic reforms, projects of regional and international significance, attraction of investments of foreign and international banks, financial institutes and industrial groups.
Digitization is very important for implementation of the SDGs providing many opportunities for economic and social growth. Development of information society and entire complex of digital technologies and services is carried out by digital transformation, which is the main vector in achievement of the SDGs.
Implementation of economic potential of Turkmenistan in the context of the SDGs is significantly expanded, opportunity of branches during transfer to digitization, which main directions make direct effect on achievement of several goals in the sphere of sustainable development, is activated.
These goals are: the Goal no.8 “Decent Work and Economic Growth”, Goal No. 9: Industrialization, Innovations and Infrastructure”, Goal no. 10 “Reduced Inequalities within and among Countries”, Goal No. 12 “Responsible Production and Consumption”, Goal no. 17 “Partnership for the Goals”.
To some extent, use of digital technologies effects implementation of other sustainable development goals. Taking into account that our country has already integrated the SDGs in different state, profile and regional programmes, the transit to digital economy will allow accelerating social and economic progress of our state. At present, financial nd economic sector together with statistic bodies actively works on establishment of the SDG database.
International online seminar on financing of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals has been organized last May. It was dedicated to the role of integrated national financing mechanisms and was a part of events under the Decade of Activity for achievement of the SDGs in Turkmenistan. It has also become one of important events in the programme of activities honoured to glorious 25th anniversary of permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan.
Delegations on ministerial level of the country members of the UN Special Programme for Economies of Central Asia (UN SPECA), representatives of the UN European Economic Commission, number of other UN agencies, international financial institutes such as the World bank, International Monetary Fund and other took part in the meeting.
This is another visual example how the use of digital video conference communication allowed active implementation of planned events inside the country with participation of international institutes and organizations.
Memorandum of Understanding on Strategic Partnership between the Ministry of Finances and Economy of Turkmenistan and Swiss company SICPA SA, which is specialized in secured identification, signed last January was another important measure in integration of our country to international trade and economic and financial relations including in trade and tax spheres, prevention of spread of counterfeit production.
Cooperation with one of the leaders in this sphere allowed mastering and implementing modern technologies in our country, which would be the base for the formation of new digital environment and development of digital economy in general.
Objectives of rapid industrialization of the country set by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov can be solved with active development of colossal volumes of current world information and rapid exchange of data.
This is a highest priority taking into account joining of Turkmenistan as an observer to the World Trade Organization in July this year. Cooperation in electronic trade is discussed on the WTO platform at present. In near future, electronic commerce will be an important and perspective direction of development in our country as well.
For implementation of budgetary reform, introduction of the Budgetary Code and transfer to result-based budgeting, introduction of intellectual technologies will support to establishment of actual state system of management of financial information, which provides precise control of budgetary resources, rational management and use.
Acceleration of work of financial sector and economy in general by digitization, provision of efficiency, trustfulness, accuracy and high quality of information provided to the participants of the process of development, execution and reporting on the budget is the main advantage of this system.
Perspectives of development of digital financial and economic institutes of Turkmenistan a related to development and application of compatible programmes and digital solutions providing reliable traceability of document management and reporting. It is proposed to expand the range of advance technologies, which will significantly enhance efficiency of economic processes.
Introduction of single registration window, full transit of work of tax authorities with taxpayers to online system will allow not only improving the work of all economic entities but also making favourable environment for business and improving investment attractiveness of the country.
Digital transformation based on use of latest technologies provides not only opening of new work places but also the provision of higher level of relations of economic entities by the formation of new standards of their social behavior.
Digitization implies rapid transit to innovative way, stimulation of business and investment activity, growth of labor employment in scientific branches and work efficiency both in government and private sections, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov highlights. In the result, all of these will make positive effect on improvement of life quality and wellbeing of our people.
The state news agency of Turkmenistan
Healthy life style as a national idea
Widespread physical training and heath improving movement is rapidly developed in Turkmenistan every year. As it was mentioned at the extended session of the Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to the outcomes of the first half of the year on July 3, large-scale work for stimulation and improvement of sport sphere, enhancement of its potential, formation of relative multifunctional infrastructure is carried out at full pace in the country.
Excellent sport complexes provided with modern equipment, stadiums, specialized sport schools, hundreds of other facilities have been built in all regions of the country in the last several years.
National legislation is permanently improved under the government support of physical training, health improving movement and sports of highest achievements; number of programmes have been adopted, which are currently under implementation. The Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs has been established in 2018.
Comprehensive strengthening of health by engagement in various sports has become a national idea, strong consolidating factor uniting people of all ages and professions.
Involvement of all layers of population in this process plays huge role in assertion of values and principles of the Olympic movement, development of sports of highest achievements. Big popularization and educational work is carried out among children, who are actively engaged in regular sport disciplines from early age, is carried out for finding of talented sportsmen.
Younger generation masters successfully and with big enthusiasm both summer as well as winter sports such as ice-hockey and figure skating, which despite climate conditions of Central Asian Region, received rapid development.
Today, almost all educational facilities of the country have sport grounds and gyms provided with all necessary equipment. Residential complexes, which territories have children playgrounds, football, tennis and other fields, provide opportunities for going in for sports.
At the same time, technical sports, including motor sports, are actively developed. Due to support of the Head of the State, the Motor Sport Centre and race track have been opened in Ashgabat.
Equestrian sports is invariable very popular among Turkmenistan citizens. Both Turkmen and international equestrian sports, in particular show jumping, which was included in the programme of successful V Asian Indoor and Equestrian Games in Ashgabat in 2017, are successfully developed in the country. Modern equestrian complexes have been built and work in the capital and regions.
Training of professional sportsmen is carried out, important projects of construction of modern multifunctional stadiums, which meet modern requirements, special education facilities, race tracks and other important facilities, are implemented in Turkmenistan today.
Major activity in this direction supports to further growing of authority of the country, which makes deserved contribution of international sport movement that unites people around high humane ideals. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov highlights that sport is an important factor of strengthening of global peace, friendship and fruitful cooperation between the state and nations.
The policy in this sphere gives actual results – national sport is entering new levels and Turkmenistan becomes a place of big international competitions more often.
This is visually indicated by the triumph of V Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games. 2017 Asian Games were mega project in the history of sovereign Motherland. Having hosted these prestige competitions, our country proved its status of sport power, which is able to host major competitions.
Successful 2018 International Amul – Hazar Rally, which route run along historical Great Silk Road, and the World Weightlifting Championship supported to the growth of sport authority of Turkmenistan.
Therefore, being a full member of International Olympic Movement and Olympic Council of Asia, our country supports to expansion and popularization of the Olympic movement.
Adoption of Special Resolution on annual observation of the World Bicycle Day on June 3 by the UN General Assembly was a bright evidence of high appraisal and recognition of success of Turkmenistan in development of sports, promotion of values of the Olympic, physical and health improvement movement.
This historical document contains an urge to all countries to pay special attention to bicycle subject in the development strategies and to include it to international regional and local programmes.
It is worth to remind that the largest cycling awareness lesson, which was registered as the World record, has been held by initiative of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in Turkmen capital in 2018 on occasion of this world holiday.
The longest single line bicycle parade with participation of 2019 cyclist, which was also registered as the World record, has been held in Ashgabat Olympic village last year.
By this, the Head of the State has started a good tradition of mass cycling races, which unite not only citizens of Turkmenistan but also numerous foreign diplomats and businessmen working in our country.
In addition to 12-km cycling race, this year was marked with the opening the Bicycle Monument, which became a new attraction of Ashgabat. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted at the opening ceremony of the monument that this artistic composition embodies high spiritual rise of our people, its commitment to human values and international sport movement, rapid advancement of the country toward progress and prosperity.
Construction of excellent indoor racing track in the Olympic village, which meet international standards, has become an important milestone of development of cycling in Turkmenistan. According to foreign experts and specialists of International Cycling Union, it complies with all relevant requirements and provides required equipment and facility base, which make conditions for organization of high-level tournaments.
In 201, Turkmen capital is preparing to host the World Track Cycling Championship. Modern road infrastructure of our country matches excellently to organization of road race competitions.
Roads running along Kopetdag Mountains, which have hosted numerous national cycling competitions throughout many years, serves as a training infrastructure for leading sportsmen.
This is supported not only by favourable climate, which allows cycling outdoor almost all year around but also by excellent quality of roads.
Having announced strengthening of principles of health and active life style in the society, the Head of the State gives personal example to Turkmenistan citizens going for various sports like horse riding, cycling, motor sport, running, tennis, etc.
Every year, Turkmen sportsmen perform more actively in the world sport arena where they win different prizes including gold medals. This success is directly supported by equipment and facility base of sport industry and established favourable conditions for training.
Active work has been carried out from the beginning of the year for training of national team to XXXII Summer Olympic Games. Training of sportsmen in 7 disciplines including weightlifting, boxing, judo, Greco – Roman and free-style wrestling, karate, swimming and field and track-and-field athletics have been held in the Olympic village of the capital.
Therefore, taking active measures aimed at development and popularization of healthy life style, physical training and sports, Turkmenistan strengthen its status of the sport country.
Government Allocates 2 Billion GEL To Directly Assist Economy, According to Giorgi Gakharia's Decision
The prime minister of Georgia would like to thank each and every citizen, particularly the residents of Tbilisi, for the understanding with which they approached yesterday's events throughout all of Georgia, especially after 21:00. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia made this statement at the session of the Interagency Coordination Council on the coronavirus.
According to the head of government, this shows how the citizens perceive a sense of shared responsibility.
"This is of extreme importance to us as it shows the way in which we jointly perceived the responsibility, which is our shared responsibility - not just of the government but of each and every citizen of this country. Above all, this is a responsibility toward one another, toward our parents, the older generation. Only thus will we be able to overcome this challenge quickly," Giorgi Gakharia stated.
The head of government discussed the decisions taken to support the economy.
According to the government's decision, 2 billion GEL has been allocated for the direct assistance of the economy as of today.
According to the prime minister's assessment, this is the assistance that will be aimed at the retention of jobs, as well as the retention of companies, ongoing production, and current businesses.
"First of all, we understand that every one of our citizens has suffered direct economic damage in connection with the measures that the government is forced to implement in order to protect the health of our citizens. This damage is often direct and tangible. In many cases, people have lost their income and their jobs. Precisely for this reason, at this stage, and considering the fact that this crisis differs from all other crises because it is impossible to make accurate predictions concerning duration, as well as in terms of correctly estimating damage to the economy, we are forced - and in contrast to all other actors, it is our responsibility - to utilize even the modest capabilities of our economy today in a manner that is as effective and rational as possible," the head of government stated.
According to Giorgi Gakharia, this decision is of utmost importance in order to enable the Georgian economy to develop rapidly and to restore the starting positions it had at the beginning of the year as soon as the concluding phase of the crisis has been reached.
"In this regard, it is our unequivocal decision that we will do our utmost to maintain large-scale, systemic infrastructural projects under conditions of heath safety protection, as well as to support and enable systemic production to continue operating, and to do our best to support systemic fields of the economy to the greatest extent possible. In this regard, as of today, we have mobilized 2 billion GEL in the budget. This is only the beginning and the first stage, given the data that we possess today," the prime minister stated.
The head of government noted that at some stage, after some time has passed, it is possible that the country might face such challenges that this assistance might need to be increased.
The prime minister emphasized that the 2 billion GEL does not include the 351 million GEL that was directly allocated from the budget for the purposes of healthcare in the fight against COVID-19.
"This is the sum that was reserved in the crisis budget in order for us to fight for the health of our fellow citizens and to do everything in our power to hinder the rapid growth of the scale, as well as of the geographic distribution of the infection. These funds must be utilized in an extremely rational manner," the prime minister noted.
According to Giorgi Gakharia's assessment, how the government is managing to provide every citizen with direct assistance at this stage is of the utmost importance.
To this end, the government has decided to fully fund the utility payments of all of our citizens who consume less than 200 kilowatts of electricity per month and less than 200 m3 of natural gas per month for the duration of three months - March, April, and May.
"This includes both cleaning service and water utility payments. This assistance, which we decided within the framework of government, will directly reach our citizens. We understand that this will not be enough. Of course, we understand that we must identify every one of our citizens who have lost their job and we will then make special arrangements to provide them with direct assistance. Furthermore, I would like to emphasize once again that it is of extreme importance, in our case, to utilize each and every lari that was mobilized in the budget today in a rational manner - 2 billion GEL in terms of the economy and the direct assistance of our citizens, and 351 million GEL in terms of healthcare, for the direct fight against COVID-19," Giorgi Gakharia noted.
According to the prime minister, the crisis budget, within the framework of which the government is operating today, is of the utmost importance and the main thing is that the funds have been directed in order to maintain the most effective balance in terms of the fight against the infection, as well as in terms of economic potential.
"Ultimately, all of us understand that our goal is to overcome the virus in such a manner that our economy can retain the potential for rapid growth, and for us to overcome the virus in such a way that the damage to our economy is minimal, and so that job losses are minimal. I would like to call on every individual government agency to use the resources that are mobilized in the crisis budget for your agencies today in the most rational way possible. Of course, we will further discuss the radical reduction of ongoing expenses, which is also envisaged by the crisis budget and this concerns hundreds of millions. However, we must all understand that the main challenge is the following: It is difficult to make concrete and high-quality predictions. For this reason, we have to operate while practically facing new challenges on a daily basis and our main goal should be to act in a rational and effective manner in terms of management and budget spending, while also acting effectively in terms of the fight against the virus," the prime minister stated.
Press Service of the Government Administration
President of Turkmenistan: CIS economic cooperation should take into account changes in global economy
Speaking at the Ashgabat meeting of the Council of CIS Heads of State, the President of Turkmenistan outlined the economic partnership as an important component of cooperation between the CIS.
As emphasized, Turkmenistan stands for offering new impetus to the development of trade and economic ties in the Commonwealth. With this aim, during the CIS Summit in Sochi in October 2017, Turkmenistan put forward an initiative to draft and adopt a multilateral document that defines the basic principles and vectors of cooperation of the Commonwealth states in this field.
Noting that the Declaration was drafted and put on the agenda of the current meeting of the Council of Heads of State, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov underlined that its adoption would require the development of new approaches to boosting economic activity in the CIS.
“The strategy of the CIS economic cooperation should take into account the changes, taking place in the global economy today. It is necessary to respond to these trends in a timely manner, take into account the focus, and use the existing competitive advantages to form and promote the CIS economic agenda in the context of global economic processes” emphasized the President of Turkmenistan..
Highlighting such strategic areas as energy, industry, transport and trade, the Turkmen leader expressed confidence that the CIS was able to implement large-scale and long-term projects in these areas.
“The Commonwealth of Independent States, due to its geopolitical and geo-economic positions, should play an initiative role on the continent, take an active part in the development and expansion of trade and economic partnership between the East and the West, Asia and Europe. In this regard, the most important task is the participation of our countries in the implementation of various projects with other states, access to neighboring regions where we have something to offer to our partners in the economic, innovative and technological spheres”, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov emphasized.
The President of Turkmenistan proposed to consider a plan of joint actions to enhance economic cooperation in the CIS with a focus on the possible formation and development of energy, industrial, transport and trade corridors connecting the Commonwealth states with world markets at the first meeting of the Economic Council in 2020.
As noted, if this initiative is supported by the Economic Council in the future, we can suggest the Council of the Heads of Government of the CIS to discuss the possibilities of its implementation in specific economic projects.
The state news agency of Turkmenistan
Handmade culture in Georgia: how traditional crafts are contributing to the economy
Georgian folk craftsmen are transforming traditional crafts into a source of economic income with the support of an EU-financed project.
Heritage crafts as a source of income
Culture is a source of inclusive growth and job creation and the global trade in creative products has continued to expand in recent years, despite economic uncertainty. Cultural heritage is a universal value, an important expression of cultural diversity – that is why preserving it and passing it on to future generations is so important.
According to Nino Samvelidze, Programme Manager for Youth, Culture and Digital Society at the EU Delegation to Georgia, cultural diversity is one of the main values of the EU, and this is why it aims to support the preservation and development of cultural traditions of different countries.
Having realised this, the EU has announced 2018 as the European Year of Cultural Heritage. In this article, we showcase the stories of Georgian craftsmen participating in the EU-supported project “Folk Crafts Perspectives in Georgia”. Thanks to the project’s support, the craftsmen develop and grow their enterprises, pass on their expertise to others, so that heritage crafts can become a source of income in Georgia.
“It is important that work in heritage crafts, which is rather widespread in our country, becomes a source of income and employment, and this is one of the objectives of the project,” explains Nino.
The Georgian Arts and Culture Centre selected 21 art studios to provide with funding. The total budget was €617,128, with €489,168 coming from the EU. The Head of the Centre, Maka Dvalishvili believes that successful beneficiaries had to have an interest in and potential for development. One of the requirements to receive funding was that the beneficiary must teach their skill to at least five students.
“Our main goal is to preserve traditional Georgian crafts and to adapt them to modern market requirements, i.e. by transforming the craft into a business. Overall, this gives economic benefit,” explains Maka.
Maka, an art historian, says the culture of craftsmanship is widespread across Georgia. She says the main characteristic of folk craftsmanship is that the products must be handmade and not manufactured in a factory. Some parts may be factory-supplied, but they have to be finished by hand.
“Folk craftsmanship started when mankind created stone tools, carved patterns on stone and developed aesthetic vision,” explains Maka.
The Georgian Arts and Culture Centrehas been working towards the development of heritage crafts since its establishment in 1995. Maka says that, since that period, craftsmen have received support to develop quality and design, and to study the market.
In 2012, in cooperation with the EU in the framework of the EU-Eastern Partnership Culture and Creativity Programme, the Georgian Arts and Culture Centre implemented another project - Strengthening Creative Industries in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia: Heritage Crafts - Common Platform for Development.
Apart from workshops and seminars, the programme also conducted a study of 500 experts in heritage crafts. The results of the study highlighted the current situation of the heritage crafts market, and a strategy was developed based on the results.
Lali Sadaghashvili: Felt craft
About 20 km northwest of Tbilisi in the historic town of Mtskheta, near the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), a variety of stalls can be found selling a vast array of products. Among them is Lali Sadaghashvili’s stall, where she sells woollen toys and other handcrafted products.
On display at Lali’s stall you can find woollen toys, felt scarf, hand knitted shoes, wool jewellery and various other accessories – all handmade by her and her family. Lali sells her handcrafted products to the constant stream of tourists who walk past the stalls each day.
In the evening, when the flow of tourists declines, Lali returns home. If she is not too tired, she continues working in the studio set up on the ground floor of her house. This is where Lali’s enterprise, Nerbi, is based. If Lali is unable to work, her three children and spouse work to provide her with new items for the stall.
In Lali’s studio, there is one large table with a tap nearby to supply the water required for felt production. There are shelves installed on the wall in the room, with all the necessary materials and fabric, as well as a sewing machine and a wool felting iron.
Lali and her husband, Rasula Kevkhishvili, set up the enterprise in 2014, after they received EU funding from the Folk Crafts Perspective in Georgia project. They received 8000 GEL in funding, which they used to completely renovate the room and to purchase the table, chairs and necessary equipment. Lali, who has been working with wool for 16 years, says the project funding helped her to fulfil her lifelong aspiration.
“It is not an exaggeration, I fulfilled my dream. I always wanted to have a studio I would enter and forget everything, where I would have a table and I could work,” says Lali Sadaghashvili.
Lali used to work in the railway industry as a telecommunications specialist. She started to use her craftsmanship skills when she was made redundant. Today, handicrafts provide her main source of income.
“I remember at first when I earned 14 GEL, then 44 GEL, and it went on gradually. Initially, I was focused on toys, but now I see that hand knitted shoes also sell well,” says Lali.
At first, Lali’s spouse, Rasula, did not consider felt craft as a serious business, but over the course of time, he changed his mind. Now, he also works in the enterprise alongside his job in the railway industry.
“My wife used to talk about what she could make from wool but I was not really interested. I thought it was just a hobby and I was too busy with my work. Finally, she persuaded me to get involved and it turned into a family business,” says Rasula.
Felt is one of the oldest methods of creating and processing fabric. It is a traditional Georgian folk craft which attracts huge interest from tourists to the country. For this reason, Nerbi also provides workshops for tourists. Wet felting was one of the most recent masterclasses held for a group of tourists. The studio that was set up through EU support enables Lali to demonstrate the process of her work to tourists.
Lali also gives classes in Mtskheta gymnasium on how to make various items from wool. Through the EU project, she is responsible for teaching five students. She says that in four years she has already taught 16 students.
The support received through the EU project has empowered Lali, and she now has a monthly income of 1500 GEL. She hopes to open a shop in the historic part of Mtskheta and hire a shop assistant in the future.
Otar Sharabidze: Pottery
Otar Sharabidze is one of the expert folk craftsmen who received funding from the EU. The 67-year-old ceramicist currently lives about 60km southwest of Tbilisi, in Tetritsqaro.
Otar studied ceramics 40 years ago at the Tbilisi Academy of Arts. After graduating, he worked in different factories within the former Soviet Union and created production sketches. He has been working independently since the 1990s. In 1996, Otar went to Istanbul where he taught at one of the universities. In 2014, he returned to Georgia where he settled in Tetritsqaro. He bought a house which was built in the nineteenth century in the historic part of the city, and now he plans to host pottery classes for tourists there.
Otar told us that he bought a house with a yard especially to facilitate his work. He plans to set up a studio and accommodation in the house so that he can rent out two rooms to ceramicists and other interested people and work together with them.
Otar’s yard measures 1 500 m2 and provides the ideal place for his studio, which is 30m2. Water supply, electric and natural gas pottery kilns, a pottery wheel and other necessary equipment will be installed in the studio.
Otar brought an electric kiln by bus from Turkey and purchased the pottery wheel and gas kiln through EU funding. He says that having both gas and electric kilns will help him diversify his work.
The ceramicist says that with a gas oven he can make products using the Raku technique, which involves removing the piece from the hot kiln, putting it into leaves or wood dust, and covering it. This process creates a glaze on the pottery.
Otar says that his pottery is not only decorative; it also has a practical function. He says that each piece he creates is unique and is never repeated.
“I produce only one copy, I always try to create original work. This is typical of folk craft; new items are made all the time. Pottery is one of the oldest forms of art, and it is developing constantly. It is interesting to look at old ceramics but you also want to introduce something new,” Otar insists.
Otar says he will complete the renovation of the house in a month, and then will start work teaching pottery and hosting holidaymakers in Tetritsqaro.
Art Studio Snoveli, Kazbegi
Art Studio Snoveli was established by father and son Bidzina Snoveli (73 years old) and Mindia Ghudushauri (43 years old), in the village of Sno in the mountainous region of Kazbegi. Together they make wooden armchairs, tables, beds, and carve the furniture by hand.
Mindia was born in Tbilisi, but his father was in born Sno. Bidzina, a qualified architect, left Sno after graduating from university, and studied woodwork in Makhachkala. “My father wanted to pass on his expertise to others. He has a very skilled technique; he only works by hand,” says Mindia. Bidzina says that he had talented students, but as his sales are not yet stable he cannot employ them.
The father and son set up Art Studio Snoveli in 2015 and bought the initial necessary materials through funding from the Children’s and Youth Support Fund. Then, through support from the project Folk Crafts Perspectives in Georgia, they purchased various woodwork tools and printed booklets in three languages: Georgian, English and Russian.
“The booklet is like a business card for our studio, you can show it to people wherever you go,” says Mindia.
Mindia wants to set up an exhibition space in Sno where they could receive guests and display the items produced in the studio. The furniture made by Snoveli contains carvings representing peacocks, griffins, turtledoves, bulls, the Borjgali symbol, various geometric shapes from different regions of Georgia, and figures from Georgian mythology.
Fourth grade student Saba Sabauri (8 years old) attends Sno School, located next to the Snoveli studio. He tells us that after classes he comes to the studio and learns to draw. After drawing, he will study woodwork.
“I mainly draw mountains and churches. Mountains are beautiful. My sister studied drawing; she would hang her drawings once she had finished them. I wanted to draw beautiful pictures as well, so I started to learn. I would also like to study wood burning,” says Saba.
Keti Akiashvili (also aged 8) is another of Mindia’s students. Keti also attends the drawing classes and looks forward to starting to work on wood instead of a paper. “I learned how to draw villages and animals; how to create lines and shadows,” says Keti.
According to an EU-supported study in 2014, 1500 people were employed in the heritage crafts industry in Georgia. This accounts for 0.07% of the economically active population. 84% of the respondents worked on their own, while 16% hired employees.
Their main challenge now is to adapt heritage crafts to modern market requirements to enable them to benefit financially from the crafts.
Author: Misha Meparishvili