The Parliamentary Minority MP, Omar Megrelidze, elaborated upon the issue of the on-going construction work of the mountain resorts in Ajara. According to the MP, an international-level mountain resort was being built on the Goderdzi Pass in mountainous Ajara for which the previous government had spent about GEL 50 million; however, the construction of this resort has been terminated as of today. According to Mr Megrelidze’s opinion, it is only the presence of political will which is necessary to finish off the construction and open up the resort. In addition, according to the MP’s statement, the construction work on the Gomarduli mountain resort in the Shuakhevi Municipality was also terminated after the Georgian Dream coalition assumed office as the new government sealed the existing infrastructure due to non-payment of land tax.

FactCheck

verified the accuracy of Omar Megrelidze’s statement.

The international HOK company formulated a general plan for the development of a mountain resort on the Goderdzi Pass in 2009 with the order of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara and began the construction work in 2011. The Government of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara founded the 100% shareholding Goderdzi Resorts Ltd in order to implement the construction work. Various companies provided appropriate services as ordered by Goderdzi Resorts Ltd.

On 8 June 2012, the Austrian Doppelmayer Seilbahnen Company provided equipment for and monitored the installation of the main infrastructure of the resort – eight-seat gondola lifts and six-chair cable cars.

About 90% of the construction work envisioned in the state funding has already been implemented. On 13 March 2015, according to the Directive of the LEPL Technical and Construction Supervision Agency, the eight-seat gondola lifts and six-chair cable cars have started to operate.

A total of GEL 42.393 million has been spent on the installation of the resort infrastructure and other necessary technologies and equipment to date. It should also be pointed out that about EUR 10.930 million (GEL 23.440 million) has already been spent as a part of a long-term loan allocated by Austria to the Government of Georgia on 18 June 2012. In addition, according to the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Directives of the Government of Georgia, a total of GEL 18.952 million has been allocated from the Regional Projects Fund.

According to the information provided by Goderdzi Resorts Ltd, the number of those employed on the project’s construction work varies sharply according to the season and the intensity of the work. The number of people employed in the construction work reached 300 during the most intense stage of the project. After the state investment the resort will be able to host 120 people in a 24 hour regime. Construction of hotels by private investors has also been planned after which the resort will be able to accommodate 3,500 visitors at full capacity.

On 26 January 2012, based upon Directive No. 20 of the Head of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara, the property owned by the Autonomous Republic; namely, the non-agricultural land plots in the Shuakhevi Municipality, were directly sold to the joint stock company, Gomarduli, for the symbolic price of GEL 1.

In return, Gomarduli took the obligation to:

  • Transfer 10% of the shares to the Autonomous Republic of Ajara within 30 days from signing the agreement.
  • Build ten hotels, a restaurant, mini-stadium and an extreme-park on the purchased land by 20 December 2013 for which it would invest GEL 1 million and employ at least 30 people, 90% of whom would be citizens of Georgia.

On 13 June 2014, Expert XXI Ltd conducted an audit of the construction work on Gomarduli. According to the conclusion, Gomarduli fulfilled the majority of its obligations. The organisation built five identical cottage-style hotels with a total value of GEL 924,885. Two restaurants with the overall value of GEL 226,762 were also built on the territory of the resort. A mini-stadium with the value of GEL 54,840 was being constructed during the time of the audit. It should be noted that the construction of the extreme-park had not been started as of 19 December 2013.

In addition, all of the infrastructure and equipment necessary for the proper functioning of the hotels and restaurants on the resort had already been installed by the end of 2013. Specifically, the resort was provided with a 24-hour water supply from a water tank with the capacity of 70 tonnes. In addition, various machines, equipment and transport vehicles with the value of GEL 111 thousand had been purchased.

In total, the joint stock company Gomarduli invested GEL 1.377 million, employed 30 citizens of Georgia and transferred the 10% share of the resort to the Autonomous Republic of Ajara.

Despite all of the facts mentioned above, after the new government assumed office, the Revenue Service sealed the hotels and the restaurant on the resort for not paying land tax and charged Gomarduli with owing GEL 126,000 to the state. As of today, as a result of the facilities being sealed and Gomarduli’s subsequent financial problems, the construction work has been terminated. The Director of the joint stock company Gomarduli, Jemal Darchidze, says that his company was given 52 hectares of land for the symbolic price GEL 1 in July 2011. According to a verbal agreement with the former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, Gomarduli was to be free from any kind of taxes for the following 15 years. It should be noted that part of the debt has been repaid with the 10% of the shares owned by the Autonomous Republic of Ajara whilst talks are on-going with the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia for cancelling the remaining part. However, FactCheck

does not have information about the stage of negotiations as of today.

Conclusion

The construction of the mountain resort on the Goderdzi Pass was not terminated when the new government assumed office in Georgia. However, it should be pointed out that a large part of the construction work was conducted before October 2012.

As for the Gomarduli resort, the construction work was, indeed, terminated when the government changed. According to the conclusion of the audit, the coordinating company has fulfilled the majority of its obligations except for building the extreme-park. However, the Revenue Service sealed the infrastructure owing to non-payment of land tax. As a result, the resort is unable to host tourists at this time.

FactCheck concludes that Omar Megrelidze’s statement is HALF TRUE.

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