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Highlights of new code for self-governance

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, January 28
On January 24, Georgia’s parliament adopted the new self-governance code after its second hearing. Now the third and the final listening should be held and if adopted, the country will have a new code of self-governance.

On the second listening the representatives of the UNM opposition actively took part in the discussion. There are several novelties in the new code including the decision to elect the heads of municipalities (Gamgebeli) directly. In addition, the mayors of 12 cities will also be elected directly.

Only the mayor of Tbilisi has been elected directly so far. Today together with the capital, Rustavi, Kutaisi, Poti, Batumi as well as Telavi, Mtskheta, Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Ambrolauri, Ozurgeti and Zugdidi will have directly elected mayors. However, there is controversy with regard to some cities. For instance, Mtskheta is smaller than Kashuri or Samtredia.

The authors of the new code think that the proposed changes will be corrected later and modified so that more cities will comply with the new framework. There are certain conditions in the new code which stipulate the removal of mayors and the heads of municipalities under certain situations.

Even Georgian Dream coalition member Zakaria Kutsnashvili criticized this particular formula. He suggested that removal of the mayor or the municipality head only for political reasons is unacceptable and they should be removed only in the case where illegal activities have been committed.

As for the regional approach, according to the new code, the governors will be appointed by the government in the regions. Special regional councils will be established in the regions consisting of mayors and municipality heads of the cities or municipalities of these particular regions.

There are two major issues that the current self-governance code does not touch. This is the collection of revenues and the elections system. The latter in particular is not finalized. However, the local elections are approaching quickly as it will be held in late May of June and the work over this issue is underway.

As for the revenue collection, state officials assure that it should be ready by September 2014. One of the proposed approaches is to leave a certain amount of money collected from the income tax in the budget of the local municipality.

So far the local budget receives only the revenue collected from property taxes and the major income for the local budget is coming from the central government.