The FINANCIAL -- Despite the fact that international studies measuring quality of living
do not list Georgian cities in any significant positions of leadership,
local experts still try to rank the best Georgian cities to live in.
On the whole Tbilisi takes the leading position among Georgian cities in all aspects of living. It is followed by Batumi, Kutaisi, Gori and Telavi. These are apparently the best cities in the country to live in according to the experts The FINANCIAL spoke to last week.
Tbilisi had the biggest turnover in the business sector, GEL 27 billion in 2011 and GEL 12.9 billion in 2012. This was followed by Kvemo Kartli with GEL 2 billion turnover in 2011 and GEL 1 billion in 2012. Adjara, Imereti and Samegrelo-Upper Svaneti hold the same position with GEL 1 billion turnover in 2011. Racha-Lechkhumi and Lower Svaneti have the poorest result with GEL 32,000 turnover in 2011 and GEL 20,000 in 2012.
Production value in the business sector is the highest in Tbilisi with GEL 12 billion in 2011 and GEL 5 billion in 2012. Imereti, Adjara and Kvemo Kartli each had GEL 1 billion in 2011. In contrast Racha-Lechkhumi and Lower Svaneti had just GEL 27,000 production value.
The most popular places for international visitors are Tbilisi , Batumi and Kobuleti, Rustavi, Mtskheta, Kutaisi, Lagodekhi, Kazbegi, Gori, Sighnaghi and Borjomi according to the Georgian National Tourism Administration.
The average number of people employed in the business sector in 2012 by region, is as follows: Tbilisi - 556,610 employees, Adjara - 70,669, Guria - 7,533, Imereti - 87,324, Kakheti - 36,461, Mtskheta-Mtianeti - 14,835, Racha-Lechkhumi and Lower Svaneti - 4,543, Samegrelo-Upper Svaneti - 62,534, Samtskhe-Javakheti - 20,624, Kvemo Kartli - 73,066, and Shida Kartli - 36,720 employers.
Utility fees are almost the same in these five cities. Flour is most expensive in Kutaisi; chicken meat costs the most in Batumi; oil - in Telavi; sugar - in Kutaisi; shoes - in Tbilisi ; apartment rental - in Tbilisi ; dental service - in Tbilisi ; blood test - in Tbilisi ; petrol - in Batumi and Telavi; insurance - in Batumi.
Political and social environment, economic environment, socio-cultural environment, medical and healthcare conditions, school and education, the natural environment, public services and transport, recreation, consumer goods and living conditions are the main criteria for calculating which city is the best to live in.
“It is easy to surmise that Tbilisi is the leading city according to income per capita and economic activity,” said Givi Mikeladze, analyst at ISET. “For example, 40 percent of gross value added to the economy was created in Tbilisi in 2010 according to the National Statistics Office of Georgia. The same can be said for the average wage level, which is one of the highest in the capital city. Due to growing tourism, the level of income per capita is relatively high in Batumi as well. The list continues in Kutaisi and Rustavi,” he added.
“The biggest problem in calculating the quality of life in Georgia is the fragile infrastructure according to the Quality of Life Index research done in 2010,” said Irakli Galdava, analyst at ISET. “194 countries were ranked and rated to reveal the best places to live. Among them Georgia holds 98th position. It’s about the places in the world where the living is, simply put, great. Besides infrastructure the research shows that the economic condition in Georgia is not enviable. In this rating among Post-Soviet countries the Baltic States take quiet high positions. Different indexes can evaluate living standards in a country in different ways, but the main thing we can conclude so far is that Georgia is still very far from developed countries,” he added.
“There is no air pollution monitoring network in Georgian cities except Tbilisi ,” said Kakha Bakhtadze, Programmes Manager at Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN). “Also, there are no landfill sites that meet modern standards. The polluted river Mtkvari is the biggest problem for Tbilisi . Due to improper sewage systems groundwater is being polluted. As a transit country Georgia is crossed by highways and railways, which also cause pollution. For these and many other reasons, the environmental condition is very complicated. The cities in Georgia which have better ecological conditions are Mestia, Oni, Ambrolauri, Borjomi, Akhalkalaki, Ninotsminda, Tsalka, Tetritskharo, Gurjaani, Khvareli and Telavi,” he added.
“The main air polluters in Georgia are car exhaust and the boom of construction,” said Irakli Macharashvili, Biodiversity Programme Coordinator at Green Alternative. “24 hour water supply is not provided in any of the cities in Georgia except Tbilisi . Sometimes even Tbilisi does not have uninterrupted water supply,” he added.
“In my opinion, the best Georgian cities according to business conditions are as follows: Tbilisi , Batumi, Zugdidi, Kutaisi and Gori,” said Irakli Lekvinadze, Managing Partner at Georgian Business and Political Insight. “Tbilisi is the leading city in Georgia down to the fact that it is the political, economic, cultural and tourist centre of Georgia so far. This leads to better living conditions for the city as economic activity is the highest in Tbilisi . The main problems in Georgian cities are the ratio of income and price levels, low access to healthcare and medical services and green and environmental issues. It is necessary to have more business and cultural events and activities in Georgia for its cities to be ranked higher in international ratings,” he added.
In terms of healthcare and medical service again Tbilisi is the leading city according to Irakli Sasania, healthcare expert. “Many medical services are exclusively represented in Tbilisi . In general the healthcare system is incorrectly and badly organised in every city of Georgia,” he said.
However, according to data provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, the total number of crimes reached 3,421 in 2011 which is 2.4 percent less than the previous year. The majority of crimes, 1,133 cases, are connected to theft. Juvenile crime accounted for 333 cases. 1,590 cases of crime were registered in Tbilisi , the place where 1,172.7 thousand individuals live, comprising one fourth of the country’s total population (in total about 4 million people).
International city ratings in the last few years have not included Georgian cities in any leading positions. Among the 400 cities of the world Tbilisi is named as one of the most undesirable cities to live in according to the research of ECA International. The same result was shown by Mercer ratings. The latest research done by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2012, which studied 120 cities in the world, did not include Tbilisi among the best cities of the world. Bloomberg analysts rated up 50 countries where it is easy to do business; Georgia was not included in this rating either, while Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine , Russia and Turkey were.
The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and Tbilisi City Hall said that Georgia did not send in a request for participation in these ratings and this was the reason why Georgia was not put in a leading position among Post-Soviet countries.
Tbilisi has a fairly good position in the research of FDI Intelligence, where it holds 5th position among South European cities in terms of the best investment strategy. Another rating is about business efficiency where Tbilisi is ranked third city after the Ukrainian cities of Kharkov and Dnepropetrovsk.