HEARING OF MINISTER OF FINANCE WITHIN MINISTERIAL HOUR
The Parliament heard the Minister of Finance, Lasha Khutsishvili, within the Ministerial Hour, reporting on the activities and future plans of the agency.
According to the Minister, 10.1 percent was the real GDP growth in 2022, which was still double-digit. This information was provided by the National Statistical Agency. According to Lasha Khutsishvili, the economy's level reached its pre-pandemic trend in 2021–2022, and considerable growth persisted in 2023 (8.4% growth in January). He claims that in 2022, greater economic conditions compared to expectations allowed for the first time an increase in budget revenues.
"The consolidated budget's tax revenue rate climbed by 1.8 billion GEL from its first plan to its final plan, which was 17 billion 350 million GEL. Tax revenue cash flow exceeded 17 billion 385 million GEL, exceeding the enhanced expected indicators by 100.2 percent. It should be noted that the rate of value-added tax refunds exceeded 2 billion 265 million GEL at the same time. The consolidated budget's overall revenue exceeded 23 billion 648 million GEL, or 100.8 percent, of the projected amount”, - the Minister of Finance noted.
Regarding the expenditure component, the Minister reported strong performance and a volume of 23 billion 49 million GEL, or 99.7% of the anticipated amount. Cash flow above 15 billion 615 million GEL (99.2% of the estimate) and capital expenses exceeded 6 billion 169 billion GEL (101.2% of the projection), respectively, for the portion of current expenses.
Lasha Khutsishvili called attention to the trend of declining budget deficits.
Lasha Khutsishvili discussed the reforms that are currently taking place within the Ministry's system, including: the management of state finances, management of state investments, management of debt, reform of state enterprises, analysis of the efficacy of tax expenditures, and reforms in the tax and customs areas.
According to the Finance Minister, the Ministry started actively working on the examination of tax expenditures, or tax advantages that are legally defined, in 2020.
PARLIAMENT DELIBERATING DRAFT DEFENSE CODE OF GEORGIAWednesday, 22 March 2023 16:19
The Parliament deliberated the draft Defense Code presented by the Government of Georgia as a legislative initiative, aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the management of the defense forces and preparing a unified codified legal act in the field of defense, thus reregulating the issues related to the organization and activity of the Defense Ministry and the military service.
The speaker, Deputy Minister of Defense, Grigol Giorgadze, elaborated on the main reforms and new approaches of the system, which the mentioned document envisages.
As the speaker clarified, the Code is focused on the new rules of military service tailored to the defense goals and improving the social guarantees of the persons employed in the system of the Ministry of Defense.
The Draft re-titles the mandatory military service into the “national military service of conscripts” and reduces the term of service for the conscripts, namely – the 12-month service shall be replaced with the differentiated terms: 6 months for serving in the combat unit; 8 months – in the defense or security unit; and 11 months – for preliminarily determined majors. The conscription shall be ensured by providing the priorities of the Ministry. The conscripts may serve only in the system of the Ministry.
The recruitment will be carried out taking into account the priorities of the Ministry.
The draft of amendments, which was prepared on the basis of the model of the Finnish and Baltic countries, provides a one-time possibility of postponement of military service, and it also provides conditions for alternative military service.
"The Code re-regulates the military reform adjusting it to the defense objectives and establishes significant social guarantees for the military personnel and creates the effective legal mechanisms for interoperability with NATO defense standards”, - the Deputy Minister of Defense, Grigol Giorgadze remarked.
As an alternative to the draft Defense Code, MP Aleksandre Rakviashvili presented a legislative package.
He claims that if the supplied document is used as a foundation, the system will undergo certain adjustments.
As a result of the voting, the legislative package will ultimately be evaluated in light of the document provided by the Government's legislative proposal, which received support from 69 MPs.
PARLIAMENT ELECTING LEVAN IOSELIANI AS PUBLIC DEFENDER OF GEORGIAThursday, 09 March 2023 15:41
The Parliament endorsed the candidacy of Levan Ioseliani for the post of the Public Defender of Georgia with 96 votes.
According to the Rules of Procedure, the voting was held without discussion. The Speaker, H.E. Shalva Papuashvili congratulated Levan Ioseliani on his election as Public Defender and wished him fruitful work.
Levan Ioseliani addressed the MPs.
"It is a significant day in my life because, at this time of great difficulty for our country, I was given a great duty. I want to convey my gratitude to everyone who placed their trust in me for this opportunity", - Levan Ioseliani noted.
STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
The Ministry of Internal Affairs launched an investigation under articles 353 and 187 of the Criminal Code of Georgia in connection with violent incidents that took place in Tbilisi, Rustaveli Avenue, near the Parliament building.
In Tbilisi, the upcoming parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan were discussedTuesday, 28 February 2023 17:19
Tbilisi, February 23, 2023 – representatives of the expert community of Georgia got acquainted with the new system of elections of Deputies to Mazhilis of Parliament and Maslikhats of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Georgia Malik Murzalin told the political scientists, researchers of leading analytical centers of Georgia, as well as journalists about modernization and transformation, political changes and economic reforms taking place in our country.
The practical implementation of the constitutional reform, supported by the citizens at the national referendum, was presented to the attention of the audience. “According to its results our country passed to new, more fair and competitive rules of formation of the legislative power”, – said the Kazakh diplomat.
Ambassador M. Murzalin informed the Georgian side in detail about the main innovations of the upcoming parliamentary elections, noting that they are a logical continuation of the political reforms initiated by the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
In turn, the participants in the discussion expressed keen interest in the bold decisions of the head of state of Kazakhstan on further political and economic modernization of the country.
According to Victor Kipiani, chairman of the analytical organization “Geocase”, the events in Kazakhstan are considered in the context of the development of the Caspian-Black Sea region as a whole. In this regard, the positive changes taking place in Kazakhstan are important for all interested parties.
The expert of the Georgian analytical center “GSAC” Gela Vasadze noted the timeliness and importance of the principle of the “Hearing State”, the focus of innovations on the development of regions and their independence. He drew attention to the important role of Kazakhstan in geopolitics, which could become a key link for the “East-West” axis.
According to the observation of professor Vakhtang Maisaia of the Caucasus International University, the level of political culture in Kazakhstan has significantly increased. The state and society have come to a political consensus. “The new geopolitical, or rather geo-economic reality, strengthens Kazakhstan’s role in the Caucasus-Caspian region. Kazakhstan is becoming a democratic hub, a regional hegemon in the dissemination of democratic values,” said the expert.
At the end of the discussion, the Georgian experts wished success to Kazakhstan, expressing confidence that the fundamental reboot of the state system will bring its tangible benefits to the population in the near future, and that economic reforms will complement the Kazakh-Georgian relations with new aspects.
Embassy of Republic of Kazakhstan in Georgia
Council Presidency and European Parliament provisionally agree not to accept Russian travel documents issued in occupied Ukraine and GeorgiaTuesday, 15 November 2022 12:13
On 10 November, the Council Presidency and the European Parliament reached a preliminary agreement on a decision not to accept Russian travel documents issued in Ukraine and Georgia. The agreed text is subject to approval by the Council and the European Parliament before formal adoption.
This decision is a response to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and its practice of issuing Russian passports to residents of the occupied regions. It also follows Russia’s unilateral decision to recognise the independence of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008.
Russian travel documents issued in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine or the breakaway territories of Georgia, as well as to persons residing in these regions, will not be accepted as valid travel documents for obtaining visas or crossing Schengen borders.
Russian travel documents issued in these regions are no longer recognised or are in the process of non-recognition by the EU Member States. This decision is therefore aimed at developing a common EU approach and ensuring the proper functioning of the external border.
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PARLIAMENT ENDORSING BILL ON DEOLIGARCHIZATION IN I READINGFriday, 04 November 2022 12:10
The Parliament endorsed the Bill on Deoligarchization in I reading with 80 to 9 votes. The document has been elaborated in compliance with EC’s 12 recommendations proposed for Georgia.
The following matters are governed by the proposed law: The definition of the term "oligarch"; the issues of identifying someone as an oligarch and having them entered into the appropriate register; the issues of having someone removed from the register of oligarchs and the production of that register; the legal repercussions of doing so; the issues of certain people having to fill out declarations regarding their contact with the oligarch and their representative.
According to the document, an oligarch is a natural person who simultaneously satisfies at least three of the following conditions in order to have significant economic and political influence in public life: participates in political life; has a significant influence on mass media; is an ultimate beneficiary of the entrepreneurial legal entity, which occupies a dominant position in the market and which maintains or exercises this position for 1 year; the confirmed amount of his assets and those of entrepreneurial legal entities where he is a beneficiary, as of January 1 of the relevant year, exceeds 1,000,000 times the subsistence minimum established for able-bodied persons.
The Parliament of Georgia makes a decision on recognition of a person with significant economic and political weight in public life (oligarch).
Ambassador Degnan’s Remarks to Media at ParliamentThursday, 06 October 2022 10:31
Question about the event
Ambassador Degnan: Today was a great opportunity to come to Parliament with our new USAID Mission Director, John Pennell. We had a chance to talk about the many different areas of cooperation and partnership that USAID has throughout Georgia, from economic growth to energy independence, basic education, vocational education, industry-driven skills development, and of course, democracy and governance. We’ve done a lot of good work over the decades with Parliament on developing its oversight capabilities and helping to draft legislation in a number of different important ways that also protect the human rights of Georgian citizens. So, this was a wonderful opportunity to introduce our new USAID Mission Director. As the Speaker himself pointed out, much of his career has been spent in the development sector, in civil society, and so it was useful for us to exchange views on just how important of a role civil society and development organizations play in any government, especially here in Georgia where we’ve had such a long partnership over the last 30 years. I would say in that respect, some of the attacks against civil society have been particularly surprising. As many of the Members of Parliament who have worked in civil society before coming into government know, civil society plays a critical role in a healthy democracy. It’s sometimes uncomfortable to hear feedback from civil society, but that is their role. Their role is to protect the interests of the citizens and to hold the government accountable. Sometimes that feedback is uncomfortable, but they’re not there to work for the government. They’re not there to work for particular political parties. They’re there to work for the public and the rights of the citizens and to hold the government accountable. I think Georgia is fortunate to have a number of very professional, strong civil society organizations that are doing exactly that, whether it’s helping to clean the air, address climate change, or to help develop regulations that protect workers that improve communities. Civil society works across so many different sectors, and I think we should appreciate the good work that they do every day.
Question on new members of People’s Party
Ambassador Degnan: I’m not going to comment on the political developments in Georgia. I think the Georgian public can see very well what’s going on here. There is a confusing message coming from the government between aligning with those who seem to be moving to undermine the partnership between Georgia and the United States, and the statements from the Prime Minister and others about the importance of the partnership between the United States and Georgia and other strategic partners. I prefer to deal with facts. There’s plenty of disinformation and conspiracy theories out there. The facts are that for 30 years the United States has been committed to helping Georgia strengthen its security and supporting Georgia’s sovereignty. For 30 years, the United States has been supporting Georgia in developing its economy, in creating better jobs. I would say some of the good economic figures that we’re seeing in Georgia right now in part relate to the support that the United States, the EU, and other friends of Georgia provided to help cushion the outcome of the Covid pandemic and to help Georgia be in a good economic position coming out of this unprecedented situation, on top of the impact of the war or Russia’s war against Ukraine. For 30 years, the United States has also been trying to help Georgia build its democratic institutions so that the people of Georgia can have greater confidence that this country is moving toward a stronger, healthier democracy. That is what the people of Georgia have said they wanted for decades. The United States has been very proud and pleased to be able to help Georgia with all of those goals: stronger security, a stronger economy, and stronger democratic institutions. We look forward to continuing that partnership. Our meeting today with this speaker and his cabinet was a good chance to renew that partnership and to talk about the ways going forward that USAID and the US Embassy can continue to support Georgia on its path toward a Euro-Atlantic future. That’s what we all want to see: Georgia more fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic family.
Question on de-oligarchization
Ambassador Degnan: The issue behind de-oligarchization in any country is how to address undue influence by anyone in the political or the economic processes of a country, anyone who’s trying to influence the operation of government and society through excess money or influence. It’s an issue that many countries grapple with, including my own. There are different ways that countries address undue influence in the political sector, and I think each country needs to debate that and come up with its own solution. I personally don’t think it’s always helpful to just borrow somebody else’s without tailoring it to the specifics of your country’s situation. There are many good examples out there that can be examined and crafted into something that is appropriate for Georgia, and the underlying problem, which is undue influence that affects the political will of the people. For instance, instead of having an election that reflects what the voters have voted, you have a distorted view because there’s been an undue influence on the process. What any law like this is meant to do is to try to ensure that there is transparency, accountability, and a level playing field so that the people’s voice is heard.
U.S. Embassy Statement on Parliament Overcoming Veto on Surveillance LawThursday, 08 September 2022 15:14
Parliament’s decision to intentionally pass wiretapping legislation that expands the government’s ability to monitor its citizens does not comply with European standards and is against the clear recommendations of the Venice Commission and Western partners. This law moves Georgia away from European integration, not towards it.
THE PUBLIC BROADCASTER REPORTING TO THE PARLIAMENT FOR 2021Thursday, 08 September 2022 12:40
The Parliament heard the Report by the Public Broadcaster for 2021, introduced by the Chair of the PB Board of Trustees, Vasil Maglaperidze.
The reporter overviewed the program, context and activity priorities and informed MPs about the novelties of the broadcast network, ways of delivery of the product to the audience, platforms, program priority assessments etc. He highlighted the budget parameters and technical and technological novelties for the accounting period.
“The aspiration of Channel I is to join the Western civilization, which is inculcated through the news programs, documentaries or other material we offer to our audience”, - he noted.
After hearing the comprehensive answers, MPs their positions.
The Chair of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee, Mikheil Sarjveladze, when estimating the report, stated that the “Public Defender is a platform realizing the projects without the analog, including in Georgia. The immense responsibility this institution carries is precisely fulfilled, which implies the impartial information and social programs in the direction of civil integration and education”, - he stated.