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What Happened in Lilo Market

22.10.2010

Bela Zakaidze, Interpresnews

On October 21, quarrel at the entrance to Lilo market started at about 1:00 pm and lasted almost half an hour. Strangers physically assaulted a leader of the National Forum Gubaz Sanikidze and journalists. The employee of the TV-Company “Kavakasia” was beaten; the video-camera of the online TV- ITV was broken; the member of the National Forum Zaza Chakvetadze was arrested.

The quarrel ended only after the police officers interfered in the incident. However, the patrol police officers, who were mobilized on the place, got active only after Zaza Chakvetadze was attacked by aggressive crowd of people. About ten people were kicking him; they said they were security officers of the Lilo market. However, Gubaz Sanikidze claims those people were either police officers or so-called zonder brigades of the government.

Later it was reported that Zaza Chakvetadze was taken to the police station. The leader of the National Forum Kakha Shartava stated they had to go to the police station of Lilo settlement and members of the National Forum and part of traders went there.

The reason of the incident

The incident at the entrance to the market started when representatives of the National Forum and the traders tried to enter the market together with journalist to show sealed up shops to them. The security guard resisted them and it turned into a quarrel.

The traders had gathered at the entrance to the market from the early morning. They said they were on strike. The reason was sealing up of the shops of their colleagues.

According to traders, at 7:00 am on October 21, the officials of the revenue department sealed up several shops in the market. The traders did not provide the invoices to their clients and it became reason for sealing up. The traders are afraid that tomorrow they might also face similar problems. The new scheme of the tax department is unacceptable for them. In fact, the tax department does not allow them to trade freely.

“Tax inspectors bother us; they control and fine us every day. The shops are sealed up every day and they might remain closed for several months. We cannot understand the scheme according to which they impose fines of thousands of GEL on us. They request many documents and it is difficult for us to make out everything in those documents. We request fixed fees,” they said.

According to the traders, at 7:00 am an officer of the tax inspection purchased goods for 350 GEL in the linen shop to control the trader. The latter, who is ethnic Azerbaijan, issued the receipt but did not give invoice – it became the reason for sealing up his shop.

The trader of the next shop said that the inspector could fine his colleague with 1000 GEL but it was not enough for the inspector and sealed up the shop too; they want to raid it in order to impose more fines.

The trader added that their cooperation with the tax inspection is very complicated. The inspectors request various documents and they have complicated schemes which are not clear for traders. The schemes are particularly difficult for ethnic Azerbaijan people whose majority cannot write and read in Georgian. The trader of the linen shop does not know Georgian either; so he cannot fill in the invoice in Georgian.

One reason of not having invoices is lack of knowledge of Georgian language; but there are some other problems too. They say that most part of the goods were purchase during previous years which they have not registered and consequently cannot have invoices on them. The invoice should provide information about the origin, purchase details and price of the goods. During previous years, the traders were not obliged to have similar invoices and they still have unregistered goods in their shops.

The traders request permission to sell the old goods without invoices. They also protest other taxes. A trader Davit Antia said they request fixed fees. VAT of 18 % is also too much for them and request to reduce it to 5 %.

Today, a pregnant woman purchased a toy in one shop to control the trader. She paid 25 GEL for a toddy bear. In the document the trader wrote price for whole-sale but the client paid the price for retail sale; as a result the trader was fined with 150 000 GEL.

Only several traders did not close their shops on October 21. However, they also share the positions of their colleagues on strike and request reduction of the taxes.

They State One but Do Other

We, journalists, arrived at the Lilo market after the quarrel. Numbered seals really were on several shops; it was written on the door: “Do not open without security guard; it was sealed up by the financial police.”

However, the official from the financial police made official statement during the day. The head of the revenue department Giorgi Tskhakaia denied the information about sealing up shops in Lilo market and stated that everybody should act in accordance to the law.

“We have not sealed up shops in Lilo market. According to the law, every person, who sells products, should issue documents. If it is not done, s/he is punished under the law. Our representatives purchase things and carry out various procedures in the market to control the activities of the traders; we will continue similar activities in future too. Our aim is to protect honest tax-payers. When they buy something, they need documents but cannot get it. So, we are entitled to do everything to create equal conditions for everybody.”

As for the detained member of the National Forum, he was not in the police station of the Lilo settlement. Kakha Shartava called upon their supporters to be ready for future activities. He said the National Forum had started working in urgent regime that means they will plan and announce concrete activities to support the traders in near future.

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