The Chairman of Parliament initiated the Official Reception “Gender Equality in Politics and Economy” with UNDP support. The Chairman, Mr. Irakli Kobakhidze, the First Deputy Chairperson, Tamar Chugoshvili, the Ambassador of Sweden, H.E. Martina Quick and the UNDP Resident Representative, Niels Scott opened the reception and delivered the welcome speeches.
The Chairman spoke about importance of the event and stated that it is symbolic that February 21, 1921 is the day of adoption of the first Constitution of the Republic of Georgia. “I would like to note that the Constitution of the first Republic of Georgia was one of the most progressive documents in the world. The Constitution of the first Republic was ensuring the high standards of human rights and freedom, including equality principles”. Georgia was one of the first countries in the world where the voting right of women was endorsed under the Constitution. “Starting from the first Republic, women played an important role in political processes. In 1919 five women were elected as the Members of the Constituent Assembly of Georgia, taking acting part in political processes”.
He emphasized the significant merit of the international partners, NGOs and state agencies in enactment of women participation in public and political life. “Naturally, we shall outline the adoption of the law on Gender Equality in 2010, as well as establishment of the Gender Equality Council. Adoption of the action plan was also important. I would like to note that the number of female MPs in the Parliament is gradually increasing”.
He noted that the female representation compared to 2008 increased three times and constitutes 15%, which is the historical maximum. “The role of female MPs in Parliamentary life is high. We have 23 female MPs and 18 of them occupy the leading positions, including 2 Deputy Chairpersons”. The Chairman spoke about the challenges. “We are proud with the progress and increased role of female MPs in Parliament. However, I would like to note that the challenges remain, including low participation of women in political life, as well as stereotypes in the society. We shall all strive to deal with these challenges. The state agencies, international organizations, NGOs, all persons concerned shall take active part. The Parliament of Georgia expresses commitment for participation in the process”. He thanked the UNDP and Swedish Embassy for organization of the event.
The First Deputy Chairperson and the Chair of the Gender Equality Council, Tamar Chugoshvili addressed the attendees: “I would like to thank UNDP and Chairman of Parliament for their joint initiative to organize the reception in the Parliament”. She spoke about importance of increased role of women in politics and noted that the gender balance in decision-making is in direct connection with economic welfare and development of the country. “Lots of surveys worldwide prove that women participation and gender balance in decision-making serve the fundamental basis for effective decisions and are in direct connection with economic welfare and development of the country”.
The examples of the most successful countries in the world evidence that women participation in decision-making in high therein. She stated that despite there is much to do to increase the number of female members of Parliament and Government, we still witness the significant progress. “In Parliament we clearly witness that despite the number of female MPs is not high, they occupy the leading positions, are very active and productive”. Recently, the Parliament endorsed the renewed composition and the Statute of the Gender Equality Council. “The Council is composed of the representatives of the ruling party and the opposition. Although, we still have gender imbalance and women predominate in the Council, we also have male Members believing that gender equality is an important issue”.
The GEC active cooperates with donor organizations (NDI, UNDP, UN WOMEN) and NGOs in development of the action plan. The Ambassador of Sweden, H.E. Martina Quick spoke about particular role of female MPs. “You as female MPs, play the particular role. In the countries of high political participation of women, economic indices are quite high. If the country manages to ensure full involvement of women in decision-making and usage of their resources and skills, the country will be highly competitive”.
In this term, Georgia achieved significant progress, though there is much to do. As she noted, against the background of 2017 Municipal Elections, more resources shall be consumed to increase women participation.
The UNDP Resident Representative, Niels Scott stated: “We are glad to have the opportunity to cooperate with Gender Equality Council. We always cherished high expectations towards the GEC and the expectations are even further increased now”.
The reception was attended by MPs, Government, civil society, international organizations and media. The event aimed at underlining the role of Parliament in establishment of gender equality and equal protection of rights of men and women.
According to the Chairman of Parliament, the organic law on Political Unions of Citizens requires further development, though, the law shall be revised on the basis of the wide consensus.
“The current rule of financing of the parties can be the subject of criticism. We need to further develop the current organic law on “Political Unions of Citizens”, though it is as well noteworthy that the hereof law shall be revised on the basis of the wide consensus. Where we deal with the political parties, revision of the legislative regulations is particularly necessary to be ensured on the basis of the common opinion of the parties”.
Georgian citizens will be able to enter the Schengen area without a visa for short stays, under a new law passed by Parliament on Thursday.
The legislation still needs to be formally approved by the Council and will only enter into force once the visa suspension mechanism, which allows the temporary reintroduction of visas in the event of migration surges or risks to public security, is in place.
Parliament´s rapporteur for the proposal, Mariya Gabriel (EPP, BG), acknowledged the “broad and complex reforms” carried out by Georgia in order to get the visa waiver and thanked the country's authorities and citizens for their consistency and patience. She also congratulated them on the strength of their democratic conviction and noted that the visa exemption brings the country closer to the EU.
Under the visa exemption, endorsed in plenary by 553 votes to 66, with 28 abstentions, Georgians who hold a biometric passport will have the right to enter the EU visa-free for 90 days in any 180-day period, for business, tourist or family purposes, but not to work.
Tbilisi has complied with all the benchmarks of its visa liberalisation plan, the text notes, underlining that “continuous fulfilment by Georgia of such criteria, especially on the fight against organised crime, will be duly monitored by the Commission”.
The visa waivers apply to the Schengen area, which includes 22 EU member states (all except Ireland, the UK, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria), plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The legal change transferring Georgia from the list of countries whose nationals need a visa to enter the EU (the “negative” list) to the list of countries exempted from this requirement (the “positive” list) will have now to be approved by the Council of Ministers. Following its formal signature, the text will be published in the EU Official Journal.
The visa waiver for Georgia will enter into force on the same date as the revised visa suspension mechanism, approved by Parliament on 15 December but still pending finalisation of the official translation of the legal texts.
“The Parliament should adopt the veto of the President of Georgia” – Eka Gigauri, the Director of Transparency International Georgia said. According to her, the process should not be delayed in Parliament and it should be adopted soon.
“We have discussed the so-called third wave reform which is too important. But the other side, there are a lot of problems, for example the appointment procedures of judges and court chairman,”-Eka Gigauri said.
The parliamentary minority summons Kakha Kaladze, the Energy Minister at Parliament over the Gazprom issue. According to Gigi Tsereteli, the agreement was made at today’s meeting.
"We discussed to summon Kakha Kaladze, the Energy Minister at Parliament over the Gazprom agreement, and it probably will soon inform the government," - said Gigi Tsereteli.
The Parliament adopted the State Budget 2017 with 102 votes against 10, introduced by the Finance Minister, Dimitri Kumsishvili along with the new 4-point economic plan and expected outcomes.
He thanked the Parliament for confidence. “Today, it is my most important public speech for me, as for the Minister of Finance as I introduce the State Budget 2017, the document serving the guarantee for economic growth and is important not only in short-term period like one year but it is the basis for development of the country. It is the document to ensure welfare and stability of each of the citizens. In general, development of Georgia depends on sequence of steps to be jointly made by the Government and the society”.
The Budget is oriented to irreversible progress and development. “We are ready to accept the challenges the country encounters and continue our progress. We understand that the primary function of the Government is to create the conditions for development and opportunity of the citizens. That is why the Budget is oriented to irreversible progress and development. We all believe in the better future of Georgia and Georgian citizens”.
The healthy economic processes take place in the country and important steps are to be made in this regards. “We shall make important steps to create more local enterprises, expert-oriented manufactures, more open and free markets for substitution of import. Investments are also important. Local entrepreneurs shall make decisions on investments. It is the sphere of reforms I have mentioned and which is reflected in the Budget”. Export-oriented productions shall be facilitated in view of export development. The programs will be further financed facilitating export-oriented productions, including the state program “Produce in Georgia”.
The most important factor for further growth of export is DCFTA with EU and Free Trade Agreement with China. “However, we shall also at maximal extent support our entrepreneurs to enter the markets and the state program “Produce in Georgia” and the preferential agro-credits serve for this purpose”.
The Budget 2017 envisages extra 6.0 ml GEL for export facilitation. Export development and facilitation directions as well are attraction of direct foreign investments in export-oriented sectors, creation of industrial clusters and conduct of favorable trade policy to facilitate to elimination of non-tariff barriers and development of high quality infrastructure.
The state program will be supplemented with some components important for petty and average business. D. Kumsiashvili spoke about infrastructural projects: significant constructions on Rikoti Pass, Samtredia-Grigoleti Section, Batumi Detour and Red Bridge-Rustavi Section. 50 ml GEL is allocated for construction of Devdorak Tunnel. Annually ravaged land mass in Devdoraki Gorge entails up to 1 ml GEL loss per day. “This land mass impedes transit function and entails up to 1 ml Gel loss per day according to calculations. The decision is made envisaging provision of the stabile road”. Road construction and rehabilitation will significantly increase the tourist potential and will allow tourists visiting the sites and traveling for free. The Budget envisages construction of modern standard multifunction Sports Palaces in Batumi, Kutaisi, Gori and Telavi. “These are important infrastructural projects to facilitate to healthy life-style in four cities and which are important for the tournaments. We plan to restore the Football and Rugby stadiums in Tbilisi, Rustavi and Kutaisi”.
The Budget also envisages gas supply, development of e-transmission lines and construction of melioration systems. The Minister spoke about 4-point plan events. “The plan envisages: economic reform oriented to maximal encouragement of private sector; education reform to ensure development of human capital and effective and maximal engagement in development of the country; spatial arrangement plan covering planting regulation plans. Correct spatial arrangement will convert Georgia into the 4-season tourist country. We plan the transport network country wide. The highways will become attractive for transits and will facilitate to tourism development; public administration reform, providing development of state service policy and improvement of service quality”.
The Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, Irakli Kovzanadze estimated the draft. The objective reality is that Georgia encounters economic challenges in short and mid-term perspective. The economic growth pace has been drastically reduced in the world entailing devaluation of currencies, deflation processes, reduction of prices on raw material etc. The situation on international financial market is fragile and unforeseeable. “In this situation the State Budget will become the milestone of financial stability of the country and along with the Monetary Policy conducted by the National Bank, is purposed to facilitate to macro-economic stability, inclusive and rapid economic growth, increase of employment and social improvement of the population”.
The Government cherishes the healthy political ambition in long-term perspective. The Governmental plan is based not the populist and superficial steps or solution of existing problems but envisages priorities to be creation of sustainable and long-term economic foundation. “This is why, our international partners, Ambassadors, IMF support our Government and the draft Budget confirmed with the statement by the IMF made today”.
According to the President of the National Bank, Koba Gvenetadze, despite increase of excise fees to entail increase of prices of some goods and services, the direct impact of increase will not be higher than the annual inflation index. Development of the state equity market is the necessary pre-condition for development of capital market facilitating to acceleration of long-term economic growth. Next year it is necessary to start emission of high-liquidity securities preliminarily announced.
According to the Deputy Chairperson, Irma Inashvili, the Alliance of Patriots will not support the draft. Today, the Alliance initiated to set up the Ad Hoc Governmental Commission on Mortgagers and Old Soviet Depositors. The Faction Member, Ada Marshania addressed the PM: Mr. Prime Minister, we shall urgently set up the Ad Hoc Commission on Mortgagers and Old Soviet Depositors as it is a significant issue”.
As the Majority MP, Zaza Gabunia stated, IMF has already made the statement hailing to the approaches of the Government and concentrated in the draft Budget. “It is one of the best indicators when we speak about positive impacts of the Budget”.
Minority MPs criticized drastic fall of GEL rate. The Majority MP, Mamuka Mdinaradze echoed with comparison of data for 2010 and 2016. Not only GEL but Azerbaijani Manat, Russian Rouble, Armenian Drams and EURO are devaluated towards USD. Minority MP, Irma Nadirashvili criticized the initiative of conversion of USD credits into GEL. Majority MPs gave the positive estimation to the draft.According to the Deputy Chairman, Zviad Dzidziguri, implementation of the spatial arrangement projects shall create 200 000 job opportunities.
The Majority MP, Paata Mkheidze initiated to create the free industrial zone in Rustavi to unload Tbilisi. The Parliament adopted the draft Resolution on Parliamentary Delegations. MPs adopted the draft State Budget with 102 votes against 10.
The Chairman spoke about announced Constitutional reform and the format of the Constitutional Commission.
“We had a dialogue concerning the format. We had even speculations. However, I might reiterate that the format we offer is the optimal and leads to the respective outcome”.
Particular challenge for Georgia is economic development. Despite of unfavorable situation in the region, Georgian Government has an ambitious plan. “I believe the plan allows real increase of economic growth pace in Georgia. In terms of economic development, cooperation between the Government and NGOs, Parliament and NGOs is very important”.
The Chairman of the Parliament, Mr. Irakli Kobakhidze, the Majority Leader, Mr. Archil Talakvadze and the Chair of the Education, Science and Culture Committee, Ms. Mariam Jashi visited the National Library of the Parliament.
The Director of the Library, Giorgi Kekelidze introduced the rehabilitation works in the I Block and the planned projects. The Chairmjan and MPs visited the restoration and conservation laboratory, digital photo chronicles, the hall of the Georgian Literacy Society, media library of French institute of Georgia, Georgian emigration hall, Chabua Amirejibi cabinet and other halls.
In the S. Paolini Italian Library the Chairman was hosted by the Ambassador of Italy, H.E. Antonio Enrico Bartoli.
As the Chairman stated, the Parliament will fully support the Library.
“We had the meeting a week ago. We considered the initiatives envisaging enhancement of the National Library, further development of the resources thereof and we can promise today that the Parliament will support all the initiatives. Each of the initiatives are important for us, for future generations, starting from e-catalogues up to the rural libraries. It is important for constant progress of our country”.
The Sector Economy and Economic Policy and the Budget and Finance Committees discussed the candidates for three members of the Board of the National Bank.
The President of Georgia has nominated Archil Mestvirishvili, Murtaz Kikoria and Robert Hendry Singleter Jr. to the positions due to expiration of the term of three members of the Board. The Deputy-Parliamentary Secretary of the President, Zurab Macharadze introduced the biographic data and working experience of the candidates.
MPs heard the candidates introducing their views and approaches. The main challenge for the NB and the country was named to be reduction of dollarization. “It is a complex issue and the National Bank powerless here. NB, the Government and financial sector are all involved in the issue as reduction of dollarization would be beneficial for everyone”, - A. Mestvirishvili noted. We have the plan of 10 points, which is one of the most important step forward to once and forever defeat dollarization problem. “It is not an easily solvable problem. It requires efforts and concentration of us all and we, the NB, as one of the leading bodies, will be involved in the issue”.
M. Kikoria named protection of consumers’ rights as another challenge. “In this term, we shall enhance the normative base and establish the principles to ensure stability of the sector”. According to R. Hendry Singleter Jr., protection of the population is possible through establishing the upper ceiling on interest rates. The state shall establish the higher limit for interest rates of the loans issued by the online loan and micro-financial organizations. “In my opinion, the state shall make effective steps and shall establish the upper ceiling of interest rates for the loans. The population has no financial knowledge and information unable to see the essence of the problem. Hence, their protection is possible with establishment of upper ceiling of interest rates”.
The candidates answered the questions concerning development of stock exchanges, upper ceiling of interest rates of the loans by online loans and micro-financial organizations , regulation of financial sector and involvement of banks in non-profile activity. MPs, with majority of votes through secret ballot, supported the candidates. Minority refused to participate in ballot as plans to consider the candidacies.
The members of the Parliament of Georgia late on Saturday night issued a resounding vote of confidence in the new government, following a full day of hearings with the Prime Minister-designate Giorgi Kvirikashvili and his proposed cabinet. The new government, which retains 13 ministers and brings in five new faces following the elections which returned the ruling Georgian Dream with a strengthened mandate, presented its programme for the coming term. President Margvelashvili confirmed the appointment of PM Kvirikashvili with a decree this morning. The Prime Minister has two days to appoint the ministers.
The ministerial changes and four-year governmental plan were approved by 110 votes in favour, 19 against and 21 abstentions.
Prime Minister Kvirikashvili thanked his team, the MPs and the people of Georgia for the smooth but intensive process of the elections and government confirmation. Following the vote he made a call for unity, saying: "We are given today a historic opportunity to make over the coming years an enormous contribution to the future positive development of our country. I urge you all to put anything personal aside and focus on the tremendous effort ahead of us."
The new government brings together a team of experienced and well-qualified ministers. In an effort to ensure stability, 13 ministers serving in the previous government will continue in their functions, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikheil Janelidze, Minister of Defense Levan Izoria and Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani.
Among the new names, Victor Dolidze will serve as State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration. The Prime Minister praised the incoming State Minister as "an experienced and good diplomat" and "constructive partner" for Georgia's European path - Dolidze has extensive experience in EU and international affairs having served as Permanent Representative to OSCE and Parliament speaker for European affairs. His predecessor David Bakradze has been appointed Ambassador to the US.
Former Minister of Economy Dimitri Kumsishvili will take up the post of Finance Minister, retaining his role as first deputy prime minister, while Georgian Dream party secretary General Kakha Kaladze will be deputy prime minister, returning to the post of Energy Minister he held before a temporary leave to run for elections. The Ministry of Economy will be led by Giorgi Gakharia, the former business ombudsman and Chairman of the Economic Council, while Zurab Alavidze will become Minister for Regional Development and Infrastructure. In an effort to streamline policy-making the Diaspora Issues portfolio has been merged with the Foreign Ministry.
The government's action plan for 2016-2020 - "Freedom, Rapid Development and Welfare" - will be based on earlier offered Four Point Reform Agenda, which prioritises new tax benefits, infrastructure plans, governance reforms and an overhaul of the education system. The aim of the government's economic policy will on the one hand develop private sector and on the other hand ensure to help the Georgian people in most need of state support.