The collection imposed on the accounts on TV Pirveli and Mtavari should be removed
Transparency International Georgia responds to the reports related to the imposition of collection on the accounts of the media channels TV Pirveli and TV Mtavari. This will significantly undermine the proper functioning of the two independent stations, especially in light of the ongoing severe economic crisis from the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 20, the representatives of the broadcasters announced that due to their inability to pay taxes, tax authorities have imposed collection on their accounts. Minister of Finance Ivane Machavariani stated that the accounts of other companies were also collected and the TV stations were not considered as exceptions. He also noted that the tax deferral package was primarily designed for the sector which was most affected by the crisis, while additional decisions would be made based on the scale of the damage and the type of companies affected.
Coronavirus poses a serious threat to public health, and keeping the society well informed plays a critical role in the prevention of the outbreak. In this regard, the role of the media is of particular note.
We fully appreciate that the steps taken to stop the pandemic in the world, and the restrictions that have been imposed, and we recognize that these measures have resulted in the slowdown of the global economy. Unfortunately, those businesses in Georgia, which had to close down because of the recommendations issued by the Government, are also in a particularly difficult situation. It is exactly the business that is the main source of income for the media, as well as their main customer for TV advertisements. The representatives of the media outlets claim that the crisis has resulted in a sharp decline in their income and that this was the reason why they weren’t able to pay taxes.
We believe that in such conditions, it is critical for the Government of Georgia to introduce certain benefits and exemptions for the media, including the postponement of tax payments. We call on the government to bear in mind the invaluable role and functions that the independent media plays in such extraordinary times, and take the respective measures to ensure the unhindered work of the media.