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UNM announces street rally

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, March 2
Georgian Dream members refused to participate in a special parliamentary session on Saturday called by the opposition United National Movement (UNM). The session should have been dedicated to the complications regarding the national currency and its 29% devaluation against the dollar since November.

The opposition strongly criticized the government for their absence and announced a street rally on Rustaveli Avenue on March 21 with the demand of changing the government.

UNM leaders stress that everyone who believes that the current government has deceived people and are doing a poor job for the country can join the demonstration.

At least 38 members of parliament can request the president to convene an extraordinary session of parliament. UNM did so earlier this week, but President Margvelashvili turned down the request on February 25.

However, despite the rejection, under the constitution, an extraordinary session should anyway be convened, but in order for it to open, at least 76 MPs should be present.

42 lawmakers were present in the chamber in Kutaisi on February 28, far short of the required quorum.

The UNM emphasizes that the government avoids speaking about the countryís problems, when the opposition has its vision on how to improve the current economic situation.

Through its written plan, the UNM calls on the government to give up imposing regulations and to curtail bureaucracy. It also offers to cut income tax from 20 to 15%; cut value added tax from 18 to 16%; to scrap tax from dividend or royalty, as well as the excise tax on fuel, and to reduce the excise tax on tobacco and alcohol.

Majority MP Vakhtang Khmaladze repeated the presidentís earlier response to the opposition. He stressed that the executive power of the country should be given time to address the current economic challenges.

When declining UNMís request for convening a special parliamentary session, President Margvelashvili said on February 25 that the government should be given time till at least March 5 to present a detailed plan on how itís going to tackle the problem related to the national currency, which at the time had lost 29% of its value against the U.S. dollar since early November.

The GEL gained 4.3% over the past two days (2.16 per U.S. dollar), but itís still weaker compared to 1.75 in early November, before it started its depreciation.