Revenue Service has launched probe in the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) to find out why it has GEL 3.8 million debt accumulated in unpaid taxes, Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri said on November 7.
Khaduri made the announcement after general director of GPB, Giorgi Chanturia, said that such a probe was unusual, triggering questions about the motives behind the inspection.
Chanturia also said that although the probe was in line with the law, but what was especially strange he had been requested by the Finance Minister not to make information about ongoing inspection public.
Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri told journalists that since October, 2010 the GPB accumulated GEL 3.8 million debt in unpaid taxes.
“That’s the violation of the law and it gives us ground to exercise our exclusive right to inspect what has caused non-payment of this debt,” Khaduri said.
“We understand that it is a media outlet and we have instructed our officers to carry out inspection without hindering the work of the broadcaster,” he said.
He also said that during the previous authorities, the Revenue Service was turning a blind eye on unpaid taxes by some television stations, including the public broadcaster.
“From now on there won’t be any privileged taxpayer,” he said.
Ten days before the new government took office, the previous authorities offered on October 15 television channels partial tax amnesty.
Khaduri said that as a result of this move about GEL 20 million tax debt had been written off from Rustavi 2; Imedi TV and Real TV channels. GPB was not among the broadcasters whose debt in unpaid taxes has been written off, according to the Finance Minister.
Lawmakers from President Saakashvili’s United National Movement party said that tax probe into the GPB was an attempt by the new authorities to mount pressure on the broadcaster.
“It’s normal,” PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said about ongoing inspection in the public TV. “I’ve listened to Chanturia’s statement; he was very irritated… That’s the first time when they [GPB] will be genuinely inspected.”
Inspection will be over within one month as envisaged by the law, the Finance Ministry said.