GEORGIAN AMBASSADOR Lasha Zhvania is happily circulating a World Bank and International Finance Corporation report that lists Georgia as the top reformer in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). According to the report, Georgia also led the global top 10 reformer rankings on the ease of doing business in 2005-2006. "Georgia made enormous improvements to many areas of its business regulations and jumped an astonishing 75 places in the rankings in just one year, moving from 112th place to number 37," said Caralee McLiesh, a co-founder of the Doing Business project. Georgia's jump in the rankings was the biggest in a single year by any country since the Doing Business report was launched four years ago. "It just shows just how far a country can go if it's committed to reforms," said McLiesh. Georgia improved in six of the 10 areas studied by Doing Business 2007. The survey ranked 175 economies on the ease of doing business - covering 20 more economies than last year's report. The Doing Business survey tracks indicators of the time and cost to meet government requirements in business start-up, operation, trade, taxation and closure. It does not track variables such as macroeconomic policy, quality of infrastructure, currency volatility, investor perceptions or crime rates. Georgia "improved its business start-up procedures, dramatically improved its customs procedures, introduced specialized courts, streamlined labor regulations, introduced a credit bureau and cut the number of licenses enormously," says McLiesh. The country saw a 55 percent increase in the number of new businesses being registered. In addition, unemployment fell by 2%, she says. The full list of global top reformers in ranking order is: Georgia, Romania, Mexico, China, Peru, France, Croatia, Guatemala, Ghana and Tanzania. Reformers simplified business regulations, strengthened property rights, eased tax burdens, increased access to credit and reduced the cost of exporting and importing. Within the CIS, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine each implemented at least one reform. Tajikistan had no reforms. Uzbekistan made it harder to do business. SOME OF the financial burden of operating Channel 10 is to be carried by News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch's international mega media conglomerate. News Corporation will acquire a 9% stake in Channel 10, with Yossi Maiman retaining 51% controlling interest. The News Corporation will reduce the stock of Israeli-American media baron Arnon Milchen and American businessman, philanthropist and community leader Ronald Lauder, who each own 24.5% of the channel. It is not known at this stage whether Milchen's and Lauder's stock will be reduced on an equal basis. Channel 10 has been steadily losing money since its inaugural broadcast in 2003, but its ratings and advertising revenues are improving, and the possibility exists that it may break even. Meanwhile, on the British front, media reports suggest that Murdoch, who enjoys a close relationship with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, is all set to offer him a senior role in the News Corporation operations once he is out of office. OR YAROK, the green light road safety project, has appointed Ronit Schwartz to manage its public relations. Schwartz has a lot of experience in dealing with the media - some of it gleaned when she was spokesperson for Zev Boim during his stint as deputy defense minister. CORPORATE GIVING by numerous Israeli companies will be directed primarily towards people in the North who suffered most during the recent war with Hizbullah. Aside from special distribution campaigns in advance of Rosh Hashana, Sonol CEO Avi Ovadia decided to brighten the lives of Nahariya school children who have just started the new school year by sending 5000 Children's Channel diaries to the mayor of the city for distribution among youngsters. AFTER SPENDING several years as a school teacher and school principal, Danny Wiler discovered a knack for project development and fundraising. A member of Kibbutz Magen, Wiler used these attributes on behalf of the kibbutz movement, but from now on will use them on behalf of the Eshkol Regional Council, which has appointed him head of project development in its strategic planning department. Wiler came to Israel in 1996 with a European Hashomer Hatza'ir nucleus. CONSUMER CONSUMPTION of apples during the forthcoming Rosh Hashana holiday season is expected to rise by 25% according to Amos Levin, the refrigeration manager for the Galilee Development Corporation, which estimates that Israelis will go through some 20 million apples in a single week. That, of course, goes beyond dipping apples in honey. Holiday meals will include salad, noodle and meat dishes with apples among the ingredients as well as apple cakes. THE BIG central purchasing group has invested some NIS 300,000 in marketing activities to promote holiday specials in eight major BIG centers across the country. The marketing campaign is in the form of a checkbook offering discounts and incentives on a wide variety of merchandise. The check books will be available at BIG centers from September 15-20 and will be valid until October 14, said BIG marketing manager Tal Etzioni.