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The News in Brief

Monday, January 11
GD, UNM Candidates Run for Head of Gardabani Municipality

Only the Georgian Dream (GD) ruling coalition and United National Movement (UNM) opposition party have nominated candidates for the January 28 election of the head (gamgebeli) of the Gardabani municipality in the Kvemo Kartli region.

The election in Gardabani was called after the office of gamgebeli became vacant following the death of the incumbent, Gela Nioradze, in late November; Nioradze, who ran on the ruling GD coalition’s ticket, won the post in 2014 local elections with over 56% of the votes.

GD named Gocha Jamarauli, a native of Gardabani and a former footballer who played for the national team in 1994–2004, as its candidate.

The UNM named Besik Kakhabrishvili as its candidate. He was running for the same office in the 2014 local elections, but lost the race to GD’s candidate, garnering 27.8% of votes.

A new gamgebeli of Gardabani, who will be elected in the January 28 election, will serve before the next local elections, scheduled for autumn 2017.

Loss caused by natural disaster hits 1 500 000 GEL in Samegrelo

The Samegrelo- Zemo Svaneti region has been seriously damaged due to heavy snow. The cost of the losses in Tsalenjikha and Chkhorotsku has already been calculated. As reported, it is 450 000 GEL in Tsalenjikha and 75 000 – in Chkhorotsku.

The loss has not been counted in other municipalities yet but, reportedly, it is approximately 300 000 GEL in the town of Zugdidi and 270 000 GEL in Zugdidi municipality in general.

According to Khobi municipality representatives, the regional loss exceeds 400 000 GEL.

Therefore, the general loss for the region is up to 1 495 000 GEL.

As for other municipalities, they have not been damaged by natural disasters. Once special commissions finish working they will send the documents to the central government.

Georgia’s National Bank refuses to fund new Finance Supervisory Agency

The newly created Finance Supervisory Agency is still not operational because the National Bank refuses to fund it. The agency has now asked Parliament to provide direct financing.

The agency was split from the National Bank a few months ago but is still not operational due to a decision by the Constitutional Court in October which suspended a legislative amendment to separate the new body from the National Bank.

The finance agency has since then remained subordinate to the National Bank, which refuses to provide it with financing.

On Thursday, the Finance Supervisory Agency appealed to the Speaker of Parliament demanding the introduction of proper working conditions. It is difficult to predict what decision Parliament will make. Speaker Davit Usupashvili will first have to listen to the recommendations from the finance budget committee.

The National Bank issued a statement the same day which said that it doesn’t plan to allocate any finances for the new agency, dubbing it illegal as the agency has not started functioning yet and the National Bank is carrying out supervision of the finance sector.

The statement also reads that the agency introduced documentation describing the budget needs for the agency. According to the National Bank, the agency is increasing its supervisory staff by 67 employees compared to the staff which the Bank used to employ for this purpose. In total, the agency plans to spend ten million lari more than bank used to spend.

“It would have been unreasonable and illegal for us to spend such an amount of money from the budget, considering that the agency doesn’t really function and the National Bank fulfils the duties of supervising the finance sector,” the statement reads.

The Constitutional Court has scheduled a hearing for February 5 about the finance agency case.

Tamaz Mechiauri, head of the finance budget committee in parliament, believes that the finance agency has a reasonable demand and its staff should have a proper salary, but he thinks that legal experts should decide.

The United National Movement party, which is the parliamentary opposition, saw the new agency’s request as a form of pressure on the National Bank. Speaking on Rustavi 2, MP Zurab Melikishvili advised the government to give up its fight with the National Bank.

The Free Democrats, an opposition party which was part of the ruling coalition until November 2014, thinks that the National Bank should be free of any pressure and should remain independent.
(df watch)

PM Kvirikashvili meets US Ambassador Kelly

‘The United States (US) will help Georgia be a successful country.’

These words were spoken by the US Ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly, as he met Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili a couple of days ago.

This was the first time the pair met after Kvirikashvili took the post of the Prime Minister on December 30, 2015.

The pair spoke about deepening economic and political relations between Georgia and the US.

"We had a very good and cooperative relationship with the previous Prime Minister and we’re looking forward to continuing that deep and broad cooperation with Prime Minister Kvirikashvili,” the Ambassador said after the meeting.

"We had a great opportunity in the beginning of this year to talk about the priorities of the Georgian Government in this critical year – it’s a very political year for both of our countries.

"And, of course, we talked about the ways we could be of assistance and where we can be most helpful in helping Georgia be successful.”

The US Ambassador also said the US would be a supporter of Georgia’s territorial integrity and the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.