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Parliament Weekly: March 22-31

Committee hearings

  • Healthcare and Social Issues Committee

On March 25, the Healthcare and Social Issues Committee set up a thematic inquiry group to assess implementation and efficiency of the 2009 reform on medicine and pharmaceutical activity.

Akaki Zoidze, chair of the committee, said that the group will study and analyze the efficiency of the normative acts, identified shortcomings, impediments and will develop recommendations. The group will be composed of MPs, field experts, NGOs and international organizations.

  • Regional Policy and Self-Government Committee

On March 25, the Regional Policy and Self-Government Committee discussed the Bill on Agricultural Land Property introduced by Chair of the Agrarian Issues Committee, Otar Danelia.

According to Danelia, considering that Georgia is a small country, rational use of agricultural lands is especially important, and argued that absence of uniform legislation and approaches led to practical problems when implementing governments policy of support to agriculture.

He also noted, that the matter of restricting the sale of agricultural land is currently under moratorium, since the Constitutional Court ruled in 2012 that the restrictions on sale to foreigners contradicted the Constitution, however the 2017 version of the Constitution dedicated this matter to the purview of the special Law, which is yet pending.

“The key objective of our proposal is to resolve the matter of private ownership of agricultural land by taking into account both private and public interest,” Danelia noted.

“Our proposal is to set up the National Agricultural Land Management Agency at the Ministry, since the agricultural lands require due management and land registry cannot ensure its management alone,” Danelia said.

The lawmakers supported the bill in its first reading.

The amendments to the Forest Code of Georgia were also put to vote, but MPs voted them down.

On March 27, the same committee also deliberated on the amendments to the law of Georgia on the development of mountainous regions, presented by one of the sponsors of the legislative proposal, MP Gia Zhorzholiani.

  • Sector Economy and Economic Policy Committee

On March 25, the Sector Economy and Economic Policy Committee deliberated on the bill on amending the Tax Code of Georgia proposed by the opposition, European Georgia faction. The bill was presented by MP Giorgi Kandelaki, who explained that the amendments to article 199 of the Tax Code will increase in the purchase value of consumption items in the shipment (parcel) that not be taxed from GEL 300 to GEL 500. The gist of the proposal was to exempt minor online purchases from taxation procedures. The committee supported the proposal.

During the same committee hearing, Deputy Finance Minister Giorgi Kakauridze presented the agreement between the governments of Georgia and Korea on issuing loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund of Korea. The agreement has been submitted by the Government of Georgia for ratification. The committee supported its ratification.

  • Joint hearing of the Agrarian Issues and European Integration Committees

On March 25, the Agrarian Issues and the EU Integration Committees heard the report on implementation of the National Action Plan for 2018 on Agrarian Dimension of EU Association Agenda presented by Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Gela Khanishvili. He also briefed lawmakers on the enforcement of normative acts in agrarian sphere.

Later, the Agrarian Issues Committee deliberated on MP Gia Zhorzholiani’s legislative initiative, which extends the right to postpone military conscription to the students of vocational training institutions. The committee supported the proposal in its first hearing.

  • Foreign Relations Committee

On March 26, the Foreign Relations Committee deliberated on the framework agreement on issuing loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund of Korea. The document was presented by the Deputy Finance Minister Giorgi Kakauridze and it aims at supporting Georgia’s economic development and boosting cooperation between the two countries.

The committee also discussed annual reports on the performance of Georgia’s permanent delegations to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, NATO Parliamentary Assembly; PACE and Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy.

  • Human Rights and Civic Integration Committee

On March 27, the Human Rights and Civic Integration Committee deliberated on the report on fulfillment of the recommendations issued under the Parliamentary Resolution on the Public Defender’s Report on Human Rights Situation in Georgia for 2017.

The report was presented by Natia Mikeladze, the government’s parliamentary secretary. She explained that the budget of the Legal Aid Service increased by GEL 1.5 million in 2018. The budget of the mental health program also increased.

To address the general and individual remedies for enforcement of the ECtHR decision former Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili received financial compensation on 22 February 2018, she noted. The criminal investigation on this case was also re-launched, as per ECtHR decision.

The report on the fulfillment of the Public Defender’s recommendations by the Ministry of Justice was presented by Deputy Justice Minister, Mikheil Sarjveladze. He focused on the measures implemented in the penitentiary system.

The report on the fulfillment of the Public Defender’s recommendations by the Ministry of Interior was presented by Deputy Interior Minister, Natia Mezvrishvili, who noted that the Ministry has already fully implemented a part of recommendations, especially related to conditions in detention facilities.

  • Budget and Finance Committee

On March 28, the Budget and Finance Committee deliberated on the government-sponsored bill on mediation presented by Deputy Justice Minister Mikheil Sarjveladze.

The bill envisages promotion of mediation for development alternative ways of dispute resolution. Moreover, the bill establishes modern mediation standards and promotes uninterrupted development of mediation. “The international experience shows that it is the powerful mechanism for peaceful resolution of the disputes and the pragmatic step to discharge the Court from the disputes requiring the long and costly procedures,” Sarjveladze explained.

  • Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee

On March 28, the Human Rights and CivilხIntegration Committee resumed hearing of the report on fulfillment of the Public Defender’s recommendations.

The committee heard the reports submitted by the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, the State Minister’s Office for Reconciliation, Tbilisi City Hall, Central Election Commission and Georgian Public Broadcaster. The rapporteurs noted that a great part of recommendations has been fulfilled or is in the process of fulfillment.

Meetings

  • On March 25, Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze met with NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. According to the Parliament’s press office, the sides discussed ongoing democratic reforms in Georgia and EU and NATO integration process. Kobakhidze noted that the implemented and ongoing reforms will ensure Georgia’s democratic development and sustainability of its progress.
  • On March 25, Chair of the Parliamentary Permanent Open Governance Council, Irine Pruidze met with OSCE/ODIHR Democratic Governance Officer, Jacopo Leone and discussed formation of the Council of Ethics and its Statute.
  • On March 27, Secretary General of the Parliament, Givi Mikanadze met with Ambassador of Iran, Seyed Javad Ghavam Shahidi to discuss the bilateral relations and inter-parliamentary cooperation. Mikanadze met also with Charge D’Affaires of Korea, Kim Se Woong. According to the Parliament’s press office, the Government of Korea will deliver the printing equipment to the Parliament of Georgia worth USD 50 000 to establish a printing office.
  • On March 27, First Vice Speaker, Tamar Chugoshvili met with the representatives of the NGOs and international organizations to discuss the concept and process of the thematic inquiry.

Visits

  • On March 27-30, Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze visited Serbia and met with his counterpart Maja Gojkovic, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Irinej. As part of his visit, Speaker Kobakhidze also addressed the Serbia-Georgia business forum and attended opening of Georgia’s honorary consulate in Belgrade.
  • OSCE PA President, Gigi Tsereteli held high-level meetings in Luxembourg, where he spoke about the OSCE activities, current challenges and the role and involvement of national parliaments in the process of their solution.
  • Members of the European Parliament and the Parliament of Georgia gathered for the eighth session of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee in Strasbourg on March 27-28. On March 28, the Committee adopted a joint statement, endorsed by three votes from the European Parliament (zero against and zero abstentions) and seven votes from the Georgian side (zero against and two abstentions). In their joint statement, the lawmakers welcomed “the continuous deepening of EU-Georgia relations,” expressed their “unwavering support” for Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration and hailed the country’s “steady progress on this chosen path.”

Other events

  • 100 days since enactment of the Rules of Procedure

Parliament Speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze said at the presentation “100 Days since enactment of the Rules of Procedure” held on March 25 that “strong Parliament means strong democracy.”

“No strong democracy can be achieved in the country without the strong Parliament. Hence, all our efforts shall be directed to political and capacity building of the Parliament and in this process, the role of our international partners, civil society and political subjects is paramount,” Kobakhidze noted.

  • Decentralization strategy: 2019-2025

On March 26, the Parliament hosted the hearing of the working group on draft decentralization strategy for 2019-2025. The sitting was opened by Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, who noted that development of local government is a complex process and needs a complex strategy.

  • Earth Hour

On March 31, the Parliament of Georgia traditionally joined an annual event Earth Hour supporting green and safe future of our planet. As part of the event, the external illumination of the Parliament was turned off at 20:30 for an hour.

  • Event dedicated to the 80th anniversary of President Zviad Gamsakhurdia

On March 31, Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze attended the event held at the National Library dedicated to the 80th anniversary of Georgia’s first President, Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Later, the Speaker along with the PM, MPs and government officials visited the Mtatsminda Pantheon and laid a wreath on his grave.

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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