The ruling majority is developing amendments to the Parliament’s regulations envisaging the relocation of the Parliament building from Kutaisi, Georgia’s second largest city, back to Tbilisi in January 2019.
The Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia cited excess budgetary funds spent on the maintenance of two buildings as well as complicated coordination with the government as the reason behind its decision.
Parliament’s Vice Speaker, Tamar Chugoshvili said that operating in two cities “harms the Parliament as an institution and simultaneously weakens the legislature’s oversight function.” She also noted that the Kutaisi building “will be used for very interesting purposes.” “The Interior Ministry plans to use it for a police hub,” Chugoshvili added.
Other members of the ruling majority also named saving of expenses, complicated communication with the government and organizational problems among the main reasons of relocation. MP Eka Beselia, who chairs the parliamentary committee for legal issues, said that the Parliament’s relocation to Tbilisi will not downgrade the status of Kutaisi. It would be better, she noted, if the funds allocated for the maintenance of the Parliament building in Kutaisi, were spent on local needs.
Opposition lawmakers have slammed the ruling majority’s decision with MP Khatuna Gogorishvili of the European Georgia party saying that not only the city of Kutaisi will lose the status of the parliamentary capital as a result of relocation of the Parliament building, but it will create financial problems to locals.
MP Salome Samadashvili of the United National party echoed Gogorishvili’s remarks saying that with lack of new jobs, the Parliament’s relocation will create additional economic problems to local population.
Constitutional changes on the Parliament’s location were endorsed in 2011 with the Parliament building moving to Kutaisi in 2012. Total of approximately GEL 330 million was spent for the construction of the new parliament building in Kutaisi, according to the study conducted by local NGO Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI).
After coming to power, Georgian Dream initiated an amendment on relocation of the Parliament’s building back to the capital, but it failed to gain opponents’ support.
In 2014, the legislature partly moved to Tbilisi with committee hearings held in a renovated old building of the Parliament in Tbilisi center. According to IDFI study, GEL 22 732 346 was spend on renovation works.
As a result of the constitutional amendments approved in 2018, the provision on defining Kutaisi as the location of the Parliament building was removed from the Constitution. The new Constitution will enter into effect after the newly-elected President swears in.