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Complied by Liana Bezhanishvili
Thursday, October 29
The pension must be increased, but the Government is saying nothing

Rezonansi writes that pensions are due to be increased before 1 November, but the Government is keeping silent about this. Chairman of the Parliamentary Financial-Budget Committee and Deputy Finance Minister Zurab Melikishvili says that the budget provision will not be changed and from 1 November the pension will be increased by 5 GEL, although there has been no official statement about this yet. Another Deputy Finance Minister, Irakli Gvaladze, confirmed that “The pension will be increased because it says so in the budget.”

Although the Government has stated that pensions will be increased it has not yet been decided how much by. Nika Gilauri stated in Parliament recently that in the foreseeable future pensions will not be increased to the promised 100 USD level.

United Trade Unions Chairman Irakli Petriashvili has said that in real terms pension reform has not begun. Analyst Gia Khukhashvili says “The extra 5 GEL does not change anything because it does not even increase the pension in line with inflation. It does not improve the pensioner’s condition, but this should be mandatory.”

Gia Chanturia: How we can give the Patriarchate live broadcasting time I do not know

The Patriarchate has asked the Public Broadcaster for a slot in which it can appeal to the faithful and call on society to show restraint, writes Rezonansi.

“In which programme can I give this slot, tell me? We have no suitable programme, everything has been stopped except Moambe, which has addressed this theme three times. At this moment we have not any talk shows. How will be we able to make a public broadcast for them I do not know. How I can give them an hour of air time and let them do the programme themselves? Do I switch on the camera and let them talk for an hour? All this cannot be done as easily as that,” asked General Director of the First Channel Gia Chanturia.

“We have information programmes and we are always ready to broadcast any statement, and when we have another talk show in November we will invite the Patriarchate and discuss this issue. We have never had a problem with them before and do not now. We have always had an open door for them. At this stage we have no programme we can give them a slot on. What special programme could we make? These take serious expense and time we have not got. It is better to use the formats we have now,” said Chanturia.

Disputes over new election rules

The Government intends to remove the existing percentage vote threshold for being elected Mayor of Tbilisi as part of its package of electoral reforms. Members of the commission working on electoral issues confirm this, but add that this was a Government proposal and the opposition does not intend to agree with it, Rezonansi writes.

The bipartisan commission has been working on electoral reforms for months but failed to achieve any agreement yet. The essence of their discussions is unknown as the members have agreed not to talk about disputed issues until a new draft is adopted. It is known however that the Government and opposition do not agree on the composition of electoral commissions.

The issues related to local government elections are especially important because the direct Mayoral elections are still being promised but no amendment has been made in the law to allow this. The law might not change at all because in lobby interviews Government members procrastinate over this issue, says Rezonansi, which adds that it has learned that the Government was planning to divide Tbilisi into 27 first-past-the-post districts for the local elections but this is unlikely to happen.

“The Government wants the winner of the Tbilisi Mayoral elections to be the candidate who gathers the most votes, however small their percentage of the overall poll is. The opposition wants a threshold of not less than 40%. The Government wants the City Council to have 45 members, 30 elected by first-past-the-post and 15 via a proportional system. This implies dividing Tbilisi into 30 first-past-the-post electoral districts. The commission has been set up to draft more or less agreed changes, but no one will ever agree with a system designed to serve the interests of the Government. The opposition will not agree with a proposal which will decay the political life of the capital,” representative of the Alliance for Georgia Mamuka Katsitadze said.

“We have an alternative proposal which involves more seats being filled on a proportional basis. We are not against having some members elected by first-past-the-post, but there are certain peculiarities about this system. Such members should represent specific geographical constituencies – this is international practice. 30 constituencies is an artificial number in Tbilisi, but I am not talking about multiple member constituencies,” Mamuka Katsitadze added.

“The key problem for the opposition is the removal of the threshold. It indicates that the Government’s is afraid that its candidate will not reach the current threshold of gaining 50% of the vote,” Katsitadze said.