Finance Minister claims “many cases” of “disinformation” on sanctions enforcement in 2023

Georgian Finance Minister Lasha Khutsishvili delivered his speech at an event dedicated to International Customs Day. Photo: Ministry of Finance, 26 Jan 2024 - 17:00, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Finance Minister Lasha Khutsishvili on Friday said “many cases” of “disinformation” and “fake news” on enforcement in Georgia of the international sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine had been observed over the past year.

Speaking at an event dedicated to International Customs Day, Khutsishvili said the instances had involved “politically motivated individuals” and were “directed against customs services and the country”. 

The fight against disinformation is a constituent part of our work”, he said, adding “all such facts will be given a reasoned response in the future”.

The Ministry cited Khutsishvili as saying a “special group” had been created in the Revenue Service following Russia's “aggressive war” against Ukraine to “constantly” monitor the movement of goods through the Government-controlled territory across Georgia.

We have recorded 1,770 cases of refusals of implementing customs procedures. Currently, 36 operational risk profiles are active, which automatically identify data on sanctions and initiate the detection of additional risk factors. The work of our customs services is recognised by all partner countries at the highest level”, the Minister said.

He also noted Georgia’s increased transit opportunities, saying the “geopolitical challenges” had led to the Middle Corridor - a transportation route network connecting China with Europe through the South Caucasus region - had become the “most important logistics node”.

Khutsishvili said the “main task” of the customs administration was to “strengthen the efforts” of the country on its path of European integration.

He announced plans for Georgia to join the European Union convention on common transit procedures this year, enabling economic operators to transport cargo to 35 countries on the European continent through a new computerised transit system based on a single electronic document and guarantees issued by Georgian customs.

The Minister said the Institute of Economic Operators, authorised according to the EU model, had been introduced in Georgia in 2021, adding eight economic operators with the status were operating in the country.

Khutsishvili was speaking to an audience involving the EU Ambassador and members of the diplomatic corps of the bloc’s member countries to support negotiations for the signing of the agreement on the mutual recognition of authorised economic operators between Georgia and the EU.