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Proposals for decentralization made

By Keti Arjevanidze
Friday, February 22
The Georgian government has begun the process of reforming regional and municipal governments. A strategy for decentralization has been developed by the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure. The issue was discussed during yesterday’s cabinet session.

New regulations will take effect after local elections in 2014. According to Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Davit Narmania, the system of regional governors appointed by the President will be abolished to be replaced by stronger regional governments.

Instead of being appointed by the President, regional governors will be elected and every municipality will have its own government.

According to Narmania the first step in the process will be the creation of municipal governments; regional governments will be formed later.

The government welcomed the proposal. If Parliament approves the proposed changes then after the local elections in 2014 the functions of governor will be transferred to regional councils created by Parliament. Each regional council will nominate three candidates for the position of regional administrative head; Parliament will make the final decision in appointing each regional administrative head.

Most MP's welcomed the initiative and think that creating stronger regional government is one more step towards true democracy. However, United National Movement (UNM) members found some faults with the proposals. They say it is of questionable electoral standards to abolish the current system of regional governors and replace it with regional administrative councils created by Parliament. The UNM plans to introduce counter-measures during the next parliamentary session.

But in general UNM members do not have many objections regarding the proposals. UNM MP Giorgi Tevdoradze said that his party was planning to make similar proposals when they controlled Parliament. He also added that the UNM generally welcome changes to the Georgian electoral system on the regional level, if properly implemented.

According to UNM MP Giorgi Vashadze, decentralization is inevitable and necessary. He added that the decentralization process began when the UNM was in power.

Georgian Dream MP Manana Kobakhidze said steps for limiting the President's rights should be taken, “ order to deprive him of the right of making decisions unilaterally.”

“Local government should be as close to the citizens as possible.” Zakaria Kutsnashvili, Georgian Dream MP Zakaria Kutsnashvili said.

Narmania said the strategy is wholly oriented towards the benefit of citizens and promised that real decentralization will occur. He added that civil society is actively involved in the reforms.

The Minister also announced that from next Monday public discussions about the proposed decentralization process will begin.