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CoE Speaks About Progress, Shortcomings for Georgian Local and Regional Democracy

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, November 9
A report on local and regional democracy in Georgia adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe adopted on Wednesday speaks about Georgian achievements and drawbacks for Georgian local and regional democracy.

The report reads that “substantial progress” has been achieved in the field of local and regional democracy in Georgia over the past 15 years and says that the lack of clarity in competency distribution, difficulties faced by opposition members in access to information held by municipal administrations, and risks of the over-concentration of power in the hands of mayors should be addressed.

One of the rapporteurs, Stewart Dickson, says that among the positive developments are:

- Explicit recognition of the principle of subsidiarity by the Constitution.

- Introduction of direct election of mayors.

- Establishment of new mechanisms of citizens’ participation.

- General increase in financial capacities of local government through additional tax revenue.

- Modernization of the auditing system.

- Further reinforcement of the constitutional status of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara.

- Active involvement of the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia in decision-making.

“It is also important that significant regional disparities, in particular between the capital city Tbilisi and other regions, are now being addressed by a regional development strategy for balancing the economic weight of Tbilisi,” Dickson said.

Tbilisi alone produces half of the Georgian GDP and attracts ? of the direct foreign investments,” he noted.

“The inequalities of the standard of living in urban and rural areas are becoming concerning. So, we strongly recommend that Georgian authorities continue their regional development efforts,” he said.

He said that the climate of mistrust among the representatives of the ruling party and the opposition was evident in local bodies, and recommended both sides to take further steps in restoring mutual trust.