Whilst delivering a speech at the plenary session of the Parliament, the Parliamentary Minority MP, Zurab Japaridze, made a statement: “The 6 January 2014 Directive No. 40 of the Government of Georgia says, and I’m quoting, ‘In order to smoothly send and deliver all kinds of mailings and parcels, only Georgian Post will be authorised to import, process and deliver parcels…’ this means giving a monopoly to one particular organisation.”FactCheck
took interest in the accuracy of this statement.
The postal service market in Georgia was regulated by the 23 July 1999 Law on Communications and Post which was abolished (except the postal services chapter) by the 2 June 2005 Law of Georgia on Electronic Communications. According to the 28 December 2005 amendments of the Law on Electronic Communications, the aforementioned reservation about postal services was also abolished from 18 January 2006 (Article 64.6).
On 24 June 2005, the Parliament of Georgia passed a Law on Licensing and Permits according to which postal services were no longer subject to licensing. The Law was enacted on 18 July 2005 (in 15 days after its publication) after which the Regulatory Commission stopped issuing licenses for postal services and, as a result, stopped regulating the postal service market. Thus, the Communications and Postal Service Regulatory Commission of Georgia (now the Georgian National Communication Commission) regulated the postal service from 2000 to 2005 whilst from 2006 the postal service market was completely liberalised. As the Georgian National Communication Commission points out in its 2005 and 2006 annual reports, the postal service market is free from regulations and is liberalised.
On 6 January 2014, the Government of Georgia adopted a Directive on Provisional Measures in the Field of Postal Services. One of the reasons for the Government to issue a Directive is when a particular issue is not regulated by the legislative act (except the cases when the issue falls within the competence of another body) of Georgia and there is an urgent need for regulation.
The Directive of the Government determines a specific condition according to which a draft legislative act on the same issue must be proposed to the Parliament of Georgia not later than a month after the publication of the Directive. If the Parliament does not adopt the proposed draft in three months, the government Directive is deemed to be revoked (Article 12 of the Law on Normative Acts).
The Directive of the Government says: According to the second point of Article 12 of the Law on Normative Acts, before the Georgian legislation on postal services is brought in compliance with the norms of international law, in order to ensure the unobstructed sending and delivery of mailings and parcels – based upon the 14 September 1994 international agreement on postal parcels, only Georgian Post will be allowed to:
a) Import, process and deliver parcels that have been sent to Georgia by land or by sea. Also to receive, process and send parcels outgoing from Georgia;
b) The land transportation of parcels that have been sent to Georgia by land or by sea, in order to process, deliver or send them.
The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia has created a draft legislative act about the issue; however, it has not yet been sent to Parliament which means that the government Directive can be deemed revoked (as the time limits have expired).
We also discussed this issue with the representative of the non-governmental organisation, Transparency International Georgia, Natia Kutivadze. She explained that the aforementioned Directive was not the first to give Georgian Post a monopoly. Ms Kutivadze talked about the 25 January 2013 Directive No. 30 of the Minister of Finance of Georgia which provided for the imposition of legal barriers on the transportation market. According to our respondent, the aforementioned Directive discriminated against 20 other transportation companies, disrupted the existing balance on the market and restricted competition – all in favour of Georgian Post. Because of this, Transparency International appealed to the court and won the case. According to the court decision, the Directive No. 30 of the Minister of Finance of Georgia was abolished. Directive No. 40 of the Government of Georgia is quite similar to the Directive of the Minister of Finance.
It should be noted that according to Directive No. 40 of the Government of Georgia, only Georgian Post is allowed to import, process and deliver parcels. In addition, the weight and form necessary to determine whether or not a mailing is a parcel is also not determined which leaves room for interpretation.
Natia Kutivadze believes that the basis for the Directive (ensure the unobstructed sending and delivery of mailings and parcels) is insufficient and does not justify the decision. In addition, the Directive does not specify why Georgian Post was chosen as the only operator and why the other companies were restricted access to the market. The fact that the liberalisation process (since 2005) facilitated the development of competition and that 40 companies are now operating on the postal services market should also be taken into account. Hence, there are no reasons for re-imposing the government regulations on this market.
The representative of Transparency International Georgia also told us that they have appealed to the Constitutional Court of Georgia requesting the Directive No. 40 of the Government of Georgia to be deemed unconstitutional and that the verdict will be published soon.As for the international obligations, Georgia is a member of the Universal Postal Union and a signatory of the Universal Postal Convention. According to the main act of the Universal Postal Union, it is the obligation
of the member state to make universal postal service available throughout its territory. The obligation of making universal postal service available throughout the country falls upon the chosen national operator.Georgian Post is named
as a designated operator in the information about Georgia on the Universal Postal Union website. The representative of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia also commented that Georgian Post has been carrying out these duties for years already and before the abolition of the Law of Georgia on Communications and Post, it was designated as a universal postal operator and owned a specific license. However, now, before a new law on the postal union is adopted, Georgian Post is only a de facto operator and has no de jure legal status.
Directive No. 40 of the Government of Georgia definitely does not concern the universal postal service in particular and it does not determine the weight and size of the parcels. Hence, it is not correct that this Directive serves the fulfilment of international obligations.
The universal postal service (weight and size) is often determined by the states themselves. In a number of the European Union member states, the universal postal service is a responsibility of a particular company; however, other companies are also allowed to provide the same service. For example:United Kingdom – Royal Mail is responsible to provide universal postal service based upon the Postal Services Act of 2011. It is also responsible for priority or non-priority postal service (up to 20 kilos non-priority service) and the registered or insured service. Sweden – Swedish Postal is responsible to provide universal postal service. According to Swedish law, the universal postal service includes deliveries up to 20 kg. Netherlands – PostNL is an appointed universal service provider; however, the market is liberalised according to the Directives of the European Union. PostNL is responsible for the delivery of correspondence up to 2 kg and the delivery/sending
of registered or insured mailings up to 10 kg.Germany – The postal service is completely liberalised after 1 January 2008. The postal legislation does not obligate any particular company to provide universal postal service. The law only says that the universal postal service is to be provided by all of the operating companies. According to German laws, the universal postal service includes: letters up to 2 kg, insured objects, registered letters, rapid and money transfers, mailings not exceeding 20 kg, journals and newspapers. France – La Poste is responsible to provide universal postal service. The company must ensure the nationwide or international delivery of letters up to 2 kg and mailings up to 20 kg.
According to Directive No. 40 of the Government of Georgia, only Georgian Post is allowed to import, process and deliver parcels that have been sent to Georgia by land or by sea. The Directive does not specify the weight necessary for an item to be considered a parcel. If Directive No. 40 was adopted to fulfil Georgia’s international obligations, it is clear that it failed to do this. The Directive directly violates internationally accepted practice which gives an exact definition of the universal postal service.Hence, Zurab Japaridze’s statement: “The 6 January 2014 Directive No. 40 of the Government of Georgia says, and I’m quoting, ‘In order to smoothly send and deliver all kinds of mailings and parcels, only Georgian Post will be authorised to import, process and deliver parcels…’ this means giving a monopoly to one particular organisation,” is TRUE.