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Opposition Slams Tbilisi Mayor for Abolishing Regulatory Council

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, December 1
(TBILISI)-- Members of Tbilisi City Hall opposition parties have heavily criticized newly-elected Mayor Kakha Kaladze for abolishing a regulatory council in charge of land zoning and 19 other offices created by previous mayor, David Narmania.

Kaladze announced the decision Wednesday, saying the council was ineffective in dealing with its tasks.

“Tbilisi City Hall, under my supervision, will be more capable of carrying out its tasks. Instead of setting up commissions, working groups or councils...we’ll just be more efficient in our work,” said Kaladze, adding that the city’s architecture service will no handle the duties previously.

Both experts and environmentalists frequently criticized the activities of the council, accused it of making biased decisions that were largely based on outside interests that contradicted the recommendations of engineers and geologists.

However, opposition parties have sharply criticized Kaladze’s decision to fully abolish the regulatory body.

“The council should be re-organized and staffed by qualified and independent experts who will make decisions in favor of the city and not the political interests of a certain party,” said European Georgia city council member Goka Gabashvili.

The country’s main opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), believes corruption will become rampant if zoning decisions are handled by direct appointees connected to the mayor’s office.

“The abolition of the council is unacceptable. If City Hall supports the initiative it means Kaladze will have the power to make decisions based on his and his party’s own interests,” UNM member Levan Khabeishvili said.

The opposition also says Kaladze’s claims that the budget will be slashed by cutting redundant bureaucratic agencies is “a complete falsehood” as the commissions were not financed from either the state or the city’s budget.