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Ambiguous cost of Electronic IDs

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, March 8
Following a meeting held yesterday at the Holiday Inn between representatives of 8 opposition parties working on improvements to the election environment and local and foreign NGOs, journalists and analysts, leader of the Republican party, Davit Usupashvili stated, “The authorities are frightened and have no response to the opposition’s initiative.”

“We 8 oppositional parties (Republicans, Our Georgia-Free Democrats, Christian Democrats, National Forum, Conservatives, Georgian way, New Rights, People’s party) started the tradition from the beginning to inform society on the ongoing processes concerning improvements to the election environment in the country. Currently the Government is frightened and confused and has no responses to our well grounded initiatives,” Usupashvili commented. He went on to say that the authorities will have to foresee the opposition initiatives as without the involvement of the opposition they will not be able to carry out the changes to the election code and added, “This is a fight of nerves, however the authorities should not have any hope that the opposition will give up the process and leave the negotiation table.”

During the meeting the opposition also delivered their analysis of the authorities’ estimate of the cost of electronic ID cards. Irakli Melashvili, opposition analyst said, “According to the project presented by the authorities the cost of each ID card is GEL 35.23. In total 3,750,000 IDs need to be distributed, resulting in a total cost over seven years of GEL 132,130,500. To carry out this project in 14 months the authorities are demanding an additional GEL 57,717,915, after which the cost of the project will be GEL 188,527,110.” Overall the authorities seem to artificially increasing the amount of money to be spent whereas the opposition suggests more realistic figures.

Following the cancellation of the meeting that was due to be held on March 1, the opposition considers that March 9 – the date of a meeting between the authorities and 8 opposition parties – will be very important as it will reveal the opposition’s plans for the future. “I can’t say what will happen on March 9, as I do not know what the authorities' proposals will be; however, we will do our best to make the authorities concede as much as possible,” commented Mamuka Katsitadze of New Rights.

The authorities state there will be news about this on March 9; Majority MP, Akaki Minashvili said, “There definitely will be news; however, for now I cannot say exactly what it will be, everything will be arranged for March 9.”

Members of the “Youth for the fair elections” and other political organisations have already appealed to the Parliamentary Chair, Davit Bakradze demanding dialogue between the opposition and the government regarding the amendments in elections code. “We are calling for steps for the opposition’s suggestions to the Elections Code to be taken into consideration. We believe these amendments will reinstate the electorate’s trust in elections. This is very important for the development of democracy. We hope you have the political will to make this step,” reads the appeal. “The amendments will be a decisive factor in how the political life in Georgia continues. We are calling upon the government to pass a bill to provide equal opportunities for all participants in elections. The opposition has already presented its own vision in this respect, now it is the government’s turn.”