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Parliament Weekly: April 22-May 3

Committee hearings

  • Sector Economy and Economic Policy Committee

On April 23, Levan Surguladze, director of the Pension Agency, reported to the Parliament’s Sector Economy and Economic Policy Committee on the performance of his agency and the process of formation of the investment council. The committee hearing was held upon initiative of the European Georgia faction.

The report was followed by a Q&A session. The majority of opposition lawmakers asked him questions about mobilization of pension funds and the mechanisms available to citizens to control their own funds.

  • Finance and Budget Committee

On April 23, Finance Minister Ivane Machavariani reported to the Parliament’s Finance and Budget Committee on a broad range of issues, including the developments around the company “Omega”, bank regulations, pension reform, tax pressure and labor contracts. The committee hearing was held upon initiative of the European Georgia faction.

The opposition lawmakers asked the Minister some critical questions about poverty, current economic situation in the country, social background and pension reform. The lawmakers were interested about what the government was doing to improve the situation.

In response to the question about Omega, Machavariani noted that “this case is clear for everyone concerned and this particular question is simply asked for political purposes. It was the case of recognized tax liability.”

As for the bank regulations, he answered: “We mainly communicate with the National Bank about the key principles and visions. Minor rates may show discrepancy but it is normal”.

  • Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee

On May 1, the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee held a hearing on labor security upon initiative of the committee chair, Sophio Kiladze. The latter also initiated to set up a thematic inquiry group on labor safety to study the situation and ensure due response.

Plenary sessions

During the Parliament’s plenary session on April 30, lawmakers discussed the bills put on the agenda. Independent MP, Eka Beselia presented in its first reading the bill on common courts, regulating the rules of nomination and selection of the Supreme Court judicial candidates.

Beselia explained that the bill shares the recommendations issued by the Venice Commission, OSCE/ODIHR and international partners. The bill was discussed almost in an empty chamber.

On May 1, with 87 votes for and 33 against, the Parliament of Georgia endorsed with its third hearing the controversial amendments to the Law of Georgia on Common Courts, backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party. The discussions were held amid strong opposition criticism, who called for returning the bill from third to second hearing, enabling the lawmakers to make content-related changes to the amendments. Opposition members claimed this was necessary for taking into account the Venice Commission recommendations. The ruling majority, however, rejected the proposal.

During the same session, the bill on common courts sponsored by MP Eka Beselia and 13 more lawmakers was also put to the vote, but it was voted down as only 29 lawmakers supported it.

On May 2, the Parliament of Georgia heard a report from Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia on implementation of the Government’s program priorities for 2018. Gakharia focused on changes implemented in the ministry, involving a number of structural, functional and legislative reforms of Criminal, Patrol and Border Police.

Most of the questions in the Q&A session were concerning the Pankisi gorge clashes and the controversy surrounding the David Gareji Monastery. The lawmakers raised a number of other issues, including on crime rates, Khorava street murder, death of Ia Kerzaia and Machalikashvili case.

Opposition lawmakers said the Interior Minister failed to respond to their questions.

On May 3, the Parliament of Georgia endorsed with its third hearing amendments to the Labor Code and a number of other laws, introducing the definition of sexual harassment, as well as administrative penalties for such offenses.

On May 3, Head of the State Security Service, Vakhtang Gomelauri reported to the Parliament on the performance of his agency for 2018. Following the report, the session continued beyond the closed doors.

Meetings

  • On April 29, Georgian Parliament Speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze met with PACE President, Liliane Maury Pasquier, who was paying an official visit to Georgia on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Georgia’s CoE membership. According to the Parliament’s press office, the sides discussed bilateral relations and issues of boosting cooperation.
  • On April 30, Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze met with Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia in the European External Action Service, Thomas Mayr-Harting to discuss Georgia-EU cooperation and Georgia’s EU integration process.
  • On May 1, the Foreign Relations Committee Thematic Inquiry Group on Disinformation and Propaganda met with State Minister for Reconciliation, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili. The sides discussed disinformation and propaganda issues along the occupation line, border regions and minority settlements. According to the Parliament’s press office, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili touched upon anti-Western propaganda in the occupied regions and ethnic minority regions.
  • On May 3, Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze met with Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the U.S. Department of State, George Kent. According to the Parliament’s press office, the sides discussed the Parliament’s agenda and ongoing institutional reforms there.

Visits

    • On April 25-26, the Georgian parliamentary delegation participated in the NATO PA 100th Jubilee Rose-Roth Seminar on NATO-partner states cooperation, enlargement and open door policy, as well as NATO-Russia relations.
  • OSCE PA President, Georgian MP Gigi Tsereteli, who paid a two-day working visit to Belarus, met with President Alexander Lukashenko. According to the Parliament’s press office, the sides discussed bilateral relations as well as perspectives of boosting cooperation between the two countries.

Other events

    • On April 30, Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze opened a solemn session in the Parliament dedicated to the 20th Anniversary of Georgia’s CoE Membership. He stressed the importance of Georgia’s CoE membership and the progress achieved over the past 20 years. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and PACE President Liliane Maury Pasquier also addressed the session.
    • On April 30, Parliament Speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze participated in the official ceremony dedicated to the Armed Forces of Georgia. In his address, Kobakhidze stated: “Georgia will never tolerate to lose even a small part of not only our freedom but our independence and identity too. You, the defense forces of Georgia, are our most reliable stronghold in this struggle.”
    • On May 1, Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze participated in the event commemorating the Holocaust victims at Rustaveli Theatre. “Not only the Holocaust was the crime against the Jewish people, but it was a great pain, a great wound of the civilized world, which is still bleeding,” Kobakhidze said in his address.
    • During the plenary session on May 3, Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze congratulated media representatives on the World Press Freedom Day and wished journalists success in professional activities.
  • On May 3, the Parliament hosted an exhibition dedicated to the World Press Freedom Day.

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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