TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia’s currency lari has reached its lowest level since 1999, but the government is optimistic and blames media and analysts of being incompetent and engaging in speculating.
The lari is now at 2.416 against the US dollar, near the all-time low of 2.4510 in February 1999. The previous low point this year occurred in May, when one USD was 2.3637 lari.
Georgian lari began its downward journey in November, 2014. At that time one USD was worth about 1.75 laris. Other currencies have also fallen during the last year, and the drop in the lari was for some months comparable to the euro’s development, but the National Bank said the lari is now also falling against the euro.
At at government session on Tuesday, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said people are speculating about the lari rate and called on the public and business leaders not to follow the lead of media and analysts, but instead rely on official information from the government and the National Bank.
“It’s important to be calm. Nothing special is happening in our economy or macro-economy, but on the contrary, we have overcome a certain stage,” he said.
“Please don’t fall for unreliable, irresponsible politicians and experts who believe they are experts at everything.”
Both the finance and economy ministers supported the PM, saying that nothing important is happening. Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri expressed confidence that the lari will soon stabilize.
He said that by the end of the year, the government expects about one billion laris of income and plans not to spend it to avoid greater market pressure.
Economy Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili told journalists that the reason for the drop in the lari’s value is not domestic but due to external factors. Both he and Khaduri remarked that speculation plays a role in this process.
Kvirikashvili urged people to be calm.
“Those players in the market who engage in disruptive actions or participate in speculative transactions will lose,” the economy minister added.