Proposed Environmental Ministry changes cause tension at Parliament
Thursday, February 24Members of the Parliament Committee on European Integration discouraged reorganization of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources (MOE) on February 23. Pointing out the irrelevance of the directions of the European Union, MPs discussed the “conflict of interests” which may emerge after transmission of the Agency of Protected Areas to the Ministry of Economic and Sustainable Development. Stressing that the Agency should obviously have particular connections with the MOE, Chairman of the Committee Davit Darchiashvili found the initiative “unjustified.”
Stressing that the main purpose of the Agency is to protect the flora and fauna, Darchiashvili worried that the Agency can now be discussed only with regard to its tourist potential. Highlighting that the issue needs a special approach, the Chairman suggested development of the right management to protect the biodiversities in the frames of the EU directions.
Discussing the draft law on structural changes prepared by the Government, Majority MP Koba Khabazi remembered serious conflicts of interests such reforms had caused in Adjara in previous years. In the event of adoption of the project, the Agency of Protected Areas will become the structural unit of the Ministry of Economy and the latter may use the Agency for economical benefit.
The Parliament Secretary Gia Khuroshvili didn’t share the same position as the MPs. He explained that the country has really taken responsibility over the issue but it’s the Government’s prerogative to define the methods of implementation. He stressed that the MOE will be maximally oriented on environmental protection in future.
It was on February 22, when the Government discussed the issue of reorganizing the Environment Ministry. Prime Minister Nika Gilauri explained at the Government session that the Ministry of Economy would take strict control of the operations carried out by the Agency and would run a very strict policy in environmental protection.
The summary of the Committee on European Integration emphasized the necessity for supporting the development of flora and fauna. That’s why the Committee strictly suggested that control over development of the biodiversities should be taken only by the MOE. “EU directions for each country oblige them to develop the relevant plans in protection of biodiversities,” according to the summary of the Committee. But, despite the remarks from the MPs regarding the law introduced to the Parliament, the Committee members finally supported it hoping that the authors would perfect the draft before the second hearing.
Analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze told The Messenger that “the biodiversities often become victims of economy even on an international level.” Stressing that the Georgian flora and fauna hadn’t been in the best condition under the MOE, Sakvarelidze worried that this time the situation could worsen. “Economical systems are more oriented on financial benefit rather than care for the fates of nature. If the Ministry of Economy will have such an opportunity, the Georgian biodiversities may really face danger,” he stated.