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On 19 March 2015, the agreement on the funding of the last stage of the Shuakhevi HPP hydro-electric energy project was signed. The construction of the HPP will be carried out on the River Ajaristsqali and its tributaries by Ajaristsqali Georgia, co-founded by the Indian Tata Power and the Norwegian Clean Energy Invest. It should be pointed out that the annual turnover of Tata Power amounts to USD 180 billion.

The agreement was signed, along with the representatives of the aforementioned companies, by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, and the Minister of Energy of Georgia, Kakha Kaladze.

After signing the agreement, the Prime Minister pointed out that a total of 600 Georgian citizens are employed in the Shuakhevi HPP project. "This will, above all, positively influence the budgets of local municipalities. The contribution will reach its maximum by the end of the project and by our calculations, this project alone will contribute over GEL 2 million to the local municipalities each year," said Mr Gharibashvili.

FactCheck

took interest in the part of the Prime Minister’s statement where he provides the numbers of those employed in the project.

As the Ministry of Energy of Georgia and Ajaristsqali Georgia stated, the Shuakhevi HPP is the single largest investment-infrastructural project in Georgia with a total value of USD 400 million.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) attracted a total of USD 250 million in order to fund the project. About USD 90 million was allocated by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), USD 90 million by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the remaining USD 70 million was allocated by the IFC itself. According to the Ministry of Energy of Georgia, the estimated overall investment in the Shuakhevi HPP is USD 290 million.

The license for building the Shuakhevi HPP was issued on 31 July 2013 and the construction started on 9 March 2014. The estimated date of the end of construction is 9 November 2017 and it will start operating on 9 January 2018.

The Shuakhevi HPP project includes

the operation of two separate HPPs with the combined output of 187 MW. Two dams and one weir will be constructed on the Rivers Ajaristsqali, Skhalta and Chirukhistsqali.

It should also be noted that the implementer of the project, Ajaristsqali Georgia, takes a long-term social responsibility in the development of the region and allocates a total of GEL 6 million for this sole purpose. This money will be spent on priority social projects formulated in close consultation with the local population. For example, eight students living in the Khulo and Shuakhevi Municipalities (construction areas) had their studies funded in February 2015. Public school libraries in Khulo and Shuakhevi were also rehabilitated.

As the Prime Minister pointed out in his statement, the project will positively influence the budgets of the local municipalities with the annual contribution amounting to GEL 2 million by the end of the project. After finalising the project, the company will contribute several million dollars to the budgets of the local municipalities in the form of revenue tax (10%) every year.

As for the employment of Georgian citizens in the construction of the Shuakhevi HPP, Ajaristsqali Georgia’s website says that a total of 407 Georgian citizens (271 from Shuakhevi and 136 from Khulo) were employed in the construction sites of the Shuakhevi HPP as of 30 September 2014. The enterprise had employed

a total of 561 Georgian citizens by February 2015 whilst the current data of the enterprise suggest that it has employed about 600 people in the construction of the Shuakhevi HPP.

Conclusion

The Shuakhevi HPP is an international private investment project which will start operating at the beginning of 2018. The project is being constructed around the River Ajaristsqali.

According to the data of the Ministry of Energy of Georgia and the implementer of the project, Ajaristsqali Georgia, about 600 Georgian citizens are employed in the construction of the Shuakhevi HPP project. A total of 278 of these people are from the Shuakhevi and 209 from the Khulo Municipalities (the remaining 113 people are from various Georgian regions). Hence, the majority of those employed are local residents.

FactCheck concludes that Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement: "A total of 600 Georgian citizens are employed in the Shuakhevi HPP project and most of them come from mountainous Ajara," is TRUE.

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