PARLIAMENT ELECTING LEVAN IOSELIANI AS PUBLIC DEFENDER OF GEORGIA
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.
MEETING OF SHALVA PAPUASHVILI WITH THE SPEAKER OF THE PARLIAMENT OF ICELAND
The Speaker, H.E. Shalva Papuashvili held a meeting with the Speaker of the Parliament of Iceland (Althingi), Birgir Ármannsson.
The parties hailed the recent intensification of Georgia-Iceland relations and highlighted the significance of high-level visits for further extension of the bilateral links. In this light, it was emphasized that Georgia is hosting the President of Iceland, Guðni Jóhannesson in the autumn of 2023.
Speaker Papuashvili overviewed the progress of Georgia at the NATO integration path and upheld democratic reforms. As he underlined, Georgia attaches particular value to the opportunity to participate in the NATO Summit scheduled in July and expressed his hope for the support of Iceland in this regard.
The parties touched upon the Russian war in Ukraine and its consequences for Georgia.
Speaker Ármannsson expressed the support of his country to the NATO integration of Georgia and shared the experience of Iceland in the relations with the EU as a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). The parties agreed on further intensification of parliamentary ties.
The meeting was held within the framework of the official visit of Speaker Papuashvili to the Czech Republic, where Mr. Papuashvili and the Chair of the EU Integration Committee, Maka Botchorishvili participate in the Conference of Speakers of the European Union Parliaments (EUSC).
PARLIAMENT DELIBERATING RATIFICATION OF MARITIME LABOR CONVENTION
The Parliament discussed the Maritime Labor Convention presented by the government for ratification and the package of legislative amendments arising from it.
The ratification agreement, according to Guram Guramishvili, the Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, aims to improve the living circumstances of Georgian mariners and to safeguard their social and labor rights.
The proposed law outlines the requirements for sailors working aboard ships conducting commercial operations while flying the Georgian national flag. The services working in the maritime industry, as well as the uniform requirements and guidelines for the shipowner's employment of Georgian citizens as seafarers on a vessel flying under any flag.
"The adoption of the draft law will help protect the labor rights of Georgian sailors and increase the authority of the state flag of Georgia”, - Guram Guramishvili noted.
As the speaker stated, the legislative changes will be based on the commitments provided by the EUAA.
MEETING OF SHALVA PAPUASHVILI WITH THE OSCE CHAIRPERSON, THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER OF NORTH MACEDONIA
The Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, H.E. Shalva Papuashvili held a meeting with the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia, Bujar Osmani.
Speaker Papuashvili thanked the North Macedonian politician for the visit and the support that OSCE renders to Georgia in this geopolitically complicated period.
The Speaker dwelt on the support of Georgia to Ukraine and the Russia-Ukraine war repercussions on the region.
Mr. Osmani expressed his gratitude for the active engagement of Georgia in the OSCE activity underlining that Georgia is a hub of regional initiatives and the support of diverse diplomacy.
The parties touched upon the grave situation in the occupied regions of Georgia and affirmed the importance of the uninterruptedness of the Geneva Talks. The progress of Georgia and North Macedonia at the EU integration path has been highlighted. As B. Osmani emphasized, North Macedonia has acquired significant experience at the long EU integration path and is committed to sharing it with Georgia.
The meeting was attended by MPs Nikoloz Samkharadze, Khatia Tsilosani, Tinatin Bokuchava and Ketevan Turazashvili.
President of Georgia delivers her annual report in parliament
“With the incomprehensible steps taken in recent years, the government is confronting the country’s foreign objective, the people’s mandate, by inviting Gavrilov, you raised doubts and questions for the first time,” said Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili when delivering her annual report in the parliament.
According to Zourabichvili, the Georgian government gradually transformed.
“Instead of strengthening state institutions, being the cornerstone of democracy, the one-party system and its influence get stronger. Laws adopted in an expedited manner (on covert recordings, abolishment of state inspector, changes in the rule for appointment of judges and foreign agents bill) serve your power’s prolongation instead of serving democracy strengthening and citizens’ welfare. The court reform, vital for the country’s future, is at a deadlock,” President said.
Salome Zourabichvili went on to say that the ruling party members speak in unison, and those having different viewpoints, tend to quit the party.
“The party influence is evident in the government and parliament. The party turned into a decision-making space. The party chairman announces his standpoint on all political issues in advance, and the decision-making process is vague, not to mention open discussions.
You are the government confronting the country’s foreign goal, the people’s mandate. By inviting Gavrilov (Russian MP) in 2019, you raised doubts and questions for the first time, though the actual transformation began in 2021 when the Georgian Dream former Chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili quit politics,” she said.
President also recalled the annulling of the document drafted with the engagement of the European Council President and rejection of the EU loan.
“You have never stopped the anti-European rhetoric, blaming and insulting our partners. All this finally came to the extent that we expelled the former EU ambassador from the country with reprimands and accusations,” Zourabichvili stated.
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.