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Weekly Review of the Parliamentary Committees’ Sessions. July 9-15 2001

Committee of Self-Governance and Regional Policy

“One meeting with the Head of President’s Regional Management Service Badri Khatidze has been much more effective, than numerous consultations with the Parliamentary Majority” – said Chairman of the opposition faction “New Rightists” David Gamkrelidze on July 11 session of the Committee. Large part of the factions of the Opposition accepted majority of terms of the bill elaborated by Badri Khatidze, at this session.

“Traditionalist” was the only faction to openly state its negative position towards the bill of the State Chancellery. The faction, who supports prior administrative-territorial division of the country, submitted its own bill to the Parliament. The issue of the division has been included in the Opposition’s demands to the Majority as well. 

Leader of the faction “Traditionalist” stated during the session, that the faction agrees to exclude the issue of regionalism from the agenda and does so in accord with the other Opposition members. However, he also mentioned, that it is necessary to legally confirm, that the Parliament would definitely discuss and positively decide the regionalism issue in the future. Asatiani also stated, that it is principal for the fraction that mayor and governors would be elected. “Otherwise we would not participate in the negotiations on this issue”.

Badri Khatidze had a conversation with the President after the meeting with the Opposition factions and submitted to the Committee the proposals coordinated with the President. President’s proposal considers proportional elections on the second level (regions, major cities). Sakrebulos (councils) would create local executive structures: municipalities in the cities and administrations in the regions. Under the President’s version of the bill, gamgebelis (governors) and mayors would be elected by the President among the members of the sakrebulos. Opposition demands, that these officials would be elected by the sakrebulos only.

Despite some discontents, certain members of the Opposition mentioned that Badri Khatidze has submitted much-improved version of the bill rather then the bill submitted by the President’s legislative initiative. “President has enough majority in the Parliament to adopt his every bill. However, President’s attitude is that all adopted laws should be acceptable for the opposition as well. Such legislative acts can only be adopted with a complete consent of the Parliament”.

“We might reach a dead end which has no escape” – said Eduard Surmanidze, Secretary General of the “Citizens’ Union” (the ruling party) as an evaluation of the ongoing consultations. He assumes, that complete consent of the Parliament, especially on local self-governance elections, is desirable not only for President, but for the Parliamentary Majority as well. If Khatidze and the Opposition would come out with the bill, that would be acceptable for both sides, the Majority would support it as well.

The Opposition also confirmed, that they are not going to boycott local self-governance elections. “We decided to not to boycott after the meeting with Khatidze. Self-Governance elections are first step to end Citizens’ Union’s reign” – said Vice Speaker of the Parliament, member of the faction “Socialist” Vakhtang Rcheulishvili.

The Opposition requested one more meeting with Khatidze but Head of President’s Regional Management Service refused. Finally it has been decided, that the Parliament will vote on bill submitted by President, which would also include all adjustments agreed between the Opposition and the State Chancellery.


Committee of Taxes and Incomes

Agenda of July 18 extraordinary session of the Parliament includes the bill on amendments to the Taxation Code. On July 13 the Committee discussed general provisions of the bill on its session. Representatives from the Ministries of Finances, Tax Incomes, Economy, Trade and Industry, Health and Social Security attended the session as well.

A special interest has been paid to the provision of the bill, under which all privileges in the Taxation Code are to be excluded.

“This is a first step to divide a social and taxation policies” – stated First Deputy Finance Minister Zurab Soselia. “Basically we agree to this suggestion, however we do need more concrete details. For instance, how much subsidies should be included to the budget with every privilege annulled” – replied Vitali Khazaradze, Chairman of the Committee of Taxes and Incomes. The parliamentarian requested the Ministry of Finances to submit the new bill on “Humanitarian Aid and Grants”.


Committee of Legal Issues, Rule of Law and Administrative Reforms

On July 13 the Committee and an inter-factional group of the Parliament had discussed a new project of the Election Code. The inter-factional group for this issue was established last year and it includes 18 members of all parliamentary factions. Agreement could not be reached on order of composition of administrative boards for the elections. “If we would not have a consent on this matter, than there is no point of continuing the Committee’s session” – stated member of faction “Revival” Valeri Gelbakhiani. However, even though the agreement was not reached, the session has been continued.

The only issue that both the Opposition and the Majority agreed on was the decision to compose the Central Election Commission from NGO representatives. The rule of selection of the representatives was the initial problem, invoked between the sides.

Vice Speaker of the Parliament, leader of the inter-factional group Giorgi Tsereteli presented the Majority’s version of composition of the election commissions, under which three parties and blocks – Citizens’ Union, blocks “Revival” and “Industry Saves Georgia” – that has surpassed 7 % election barrier would organize three-member-strong commission. This commission will select with the principle of consensus those NGOs, whose representatives may become the members of the Central Election Commission. These non-governmental organizations will create a council, which will nominate before the Parliament 14 candidates for the membership into the Commission. The Central Commission should have 7 members. Members of the Commission should be appointed with 2/3 of votes of the Parliament.

Political parties that surpassed 3 % barrier at the last local elections will participate in the commissions on regional and district levels (Citizens’ Union, “Revival”, National-Democratic Party, Laborist Party, Socialist Party and Traditionalists).

Vkhtang Rcheulishvili announced that the Opposition will submit alternate version of the rule of composition of elections’ administration at July 18 extraordinary session of the Parliament.

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