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27.11.2012 20:20

Ministry of Finance Gets Concerned into Rustavi 2 and Imedi TV Tax Amnesties

Maia Tsiklauri

The Ministry of Finance of Georgia is going to send the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia the materials to study the decisions issued by high State officials based on which TV companies including Rustavi 2 and Imedi TV have been forgiven tax arrears.

Reporting to journalists on November 26 the Minister of Finance Nodar Khaduri said for the past two years only Rustavi 2 has been written off the arrear of about GEL 25 mln (approximately USD 18 mln), while TV company Kavkasia was not forgiven GEL 2,5 (USD 1,5) and the TV-owned property was seized.

Rustavi 2 published the November 20 protocol issued by the Advisory Council of the Ministry of Finance. According to para 7 of the document Kakha Tsertsvadze, acting head of Revenue Service and Apolon Kakabadze, head of the investigative department of the Ministry shall be commissioned to launch a thorough study into income tax arrears of Rustavi 2 and Imedi TV.

Nodar Khaduri clarified that the Ministry of Finance is not going to enter Rutavi 2 since the case-related materials have already been studied.

“Measures are going to be taken to the individuals who reached the decision [on writing the taxes off],” Khaduri specified that the aforementioned TV companies as well as real TV (current TV3) and the public broadcaster have been forgiven tax arrears by former PM Vano Merabishvili and former Minister of Finance Alexander Khetaguri.  

“The society should be aware why Rustavi 2 was not paying taxes,” the Minister added. “We’ll ask the Minister of Finance why the taxes had been written off from Rustavi 2 and based on what Kavkasia TV was fined.”

Reporting to the journalists Nodar Khaduri reprimanded the Rustavi 2 correspondent: the sum that was due to paid to police, security, vulnerable population, but your company embezzled the money and Merabishvili encourage that. 

In the recent years the TV companies have been written taxes off twice. The draft bill on the financial amnesty for regional and national broadcasters was endorsed by Parliament in 2010.   

The broadcasters were then written off the taxes of GEL 36 mln (approximately USD 21 mln). Out of the given figure the debt written off from regional broadcasters amounted to about GEL 2 mln, the remaining sum was the tax liability of Rustavi 2, Imedi and GPB. Tax amnesty was not applied to Maestro and Kavkasia since they had no State liability.

Those opposing the tax amnesty then said that the government provided unequal conditions to the TV companies since the authorities were closing their eyes to the unpaid taxes of the TV companies that were loyal to them.

For the last time the TV companies were indulged with the reduction of taxes based on the October 15 statement released by the Minister of Finance Alexander Khetaguri. The data on the amount was not publicized though. It is noteworthy that according to the data as of July 18, 2012 posted on the website of the Revenue Service the broadcasters had the following arrears: Imedi - GEL 14 mln,Rustavi 2 – GEL 5,500,000, GPB – GEL 3mln, Trialeti and Saqartvelo – both owed the State GEL 10,000. After July 18 the data was deleted from the Revenue Service website for some unclear reasons.

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