Government Discusses Illegal Street Vendor Crackdown
By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, September 29Street vendor related issues were still the subject of discussions at the parliamentary debates of the joint sitting of the parliamentary committees on Tuesday. According to the amendments to the Code of Administrative Violations of Georgia introduced by the ruling United National Movement (UNM) MPs Andro Alavidze, Vakhtang Balavadze and Kakhaber Anjaparidze the local municipality bodies and not only law enforcement will be able to fine illegal traders for outside trade. They will be authorized to fine the violators and to confiscate property and this will facilitate the factual discussion of cases.
The vendors have been often warned to stop street trade but they have been claiming they have nothing else to live on. The abovementioned changes enable the law enforcers to fine the “violators” GEL 20 plus seizure of their goods for the first time, while for the repeated violation of the law the fine will reach GEL 100 both for individuals and legal entities. “Nothing has been new in the code apart from easing the forms of penalties which the vendors would have to pay on the spot. But those who find themselves innocent of any violation may definitely address the court with a complaint,” Vakhtang Balavadze, one of the authors of the initiative told The Messenger.
Another initiative raised by the authors of the abovementioned bill concerned the rehabilitation of non-functioning, abandoned buildings. In order to improve the authority of the state on construction activities and to increase efficiency there was an introduction of the amendment on Control of Technical Danger. State bodies will be authorized to make a resolution on the deconstruction of illegally built houses, whenever the construction is on the territory of the state owned or local municipality owned territory and when the owner, or conductor of the construction cannot be identified.
If such people do not get permission within the 6-months term, they will be fined for violating the law for each postponed day and finally lose the right on property. As Balavadze told us this amendment doesn’t refer to large companies who have started constructing buildings but still have not finished them. “This process is being regulated by the separate regulations as such companies have the right to build the houses,” he told us.
Amendments on the Flat Owners’ Entities determines the conditions for development of individual properties of flat owners’ entities, as well as the number of votes necessary for making a decision on the deconstruction of the entity in case of common ownership. In compliance with the draft, developing individual property of a flat owner’s entity is allowed in such a way that it influences the common property but without creation of a new item of property. If a new item of property is formed then consent should be given by the decision of 2/3 of flat owner’s entities members.
Another amendment under discussion, On Local Fees, will mean that to facilitate the development of municipalities, local bodies are authorized to assign local fees that will act on their territory, excluding recreation zones. They are also authorized on their territory to adopt a fee on the recreation zones that will be in force only there. In accordance with the draft, the local body will be enabled to determine the amounts, the regularity and the dates of payment.
Opposition MP Dimitri Lortkipanidze accused the Parliament of violating the regulations for holding a sitting. Denying the legality of amendments MP explained that he hadn’t even been informed of the unplanned sitting of the parliamentary committees in time. While the political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze suggested cooperation among the Georgian Government, street vendors and international organizations in order to eradicate the much talked of problem in the country. “The Government is accused of increasing state income by introducing new fines. There should be special places where people have the opportunity to sell products under safety regulations which would also encourage small business promotion in the country,” Sakvarelidze said discouraging monopolies that prevent the democratization process in Georgia.