Plenary Session of the Parliament

15 Oct 2019
Plenary Session of the Parliament

Following the endorsement of the agenda, the ground was given to individual MPs.

Political Statements:
Chair of Legal Issues Committee, Anri Okhanashvili: “We witness the historic process while interviewing the Candidates for the Supreme Court Judges in a completely new manner, with maximal extent openness and utmost transparency. This historical process has taken place and the pledge of the Georgian Dream to facilitate the process to be completely open, transparent and provided for the full engagement of the stakeholders - has been fulfilled. This process was followed with the significant feedback. The Public Defender positively appealed the ongoing process. I would like to remind you of the statement of the EU Ambassador to Georgia, Carl Hartzell, who confirmed that the process of selecting judges has never been so transparent in the history of Georgia. It stands for the recognition of the important process that is carried out under our leadership. Our goal is to develop an effective, reliable and fair judiciary, and that is the goal that we will surely achieve. Accomplishment of this process lies within the State interests and if anyone tries to make any kind of discreditation, it will be perceived as an attempt to bash and damage the state interests”.

Deputy Chair of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee, Rati Ionatamishvili: “I would like to dwell upon a category of crime that is critically disturbing and which we cannot suppress unless the society remains unanimous and solid. I am driving to the domestic violence against women and girls, which often results in fatalities. To properly tackle the issue, we have begun active work from the very first days of the 9th Term Parliament. We have increased parliamentary oversight mechanisms, drafted new legislative initiatives and regulations, ratified the Istanbul Convention and Additional Protocol, facilitated reforms at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and promoted the role of the Public Defender. In the future, the Criminal Code will be amended and sanctions against murder will be tightened. Obviously, these changes will be proportional with the crime committed against women and girls in the family, but no matter how tight the law is, unless society responds adequately to such crimes, the situation will not change to any better. I would like to appeal to all women being oppressed and at risk of violence - by protecting your rights, you prevent several crimes to be committed and thusly, protect not only women and girls, but ensure the safety of the whole society. Despite the existing stereotypes and stigmas put you at a higher risk of psychological violence, I would like you to know that the State stands by you and together we can ensure living in a society free from violence”.

Chair of the Faction “National Movement”, Roman Gotsiridze: “The Board of the National Bank is not filled. The President nominated two members of the National Council in May as the terms of authority of other members had expired. For almost half a year this issue has been stuck in Parliament, so you have to finally answer it. Why does not the President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili, pay attention to her candidates and why the people nominated either by the Government or the people are actually declined. At the sitting of the Sector Economy and Economic Policy Committee, two candidates were considered, both received a sufficient number of votes. Whatever the paradox, I personally supported both. One of them willingly withdrew his candidacy. The President shall immediately nominate a new candidate for the Board of the National Bank. The competition has to be announced and those people who would serve the National Bank without any outer influence should be selected through an open manner.”

Member of the Faction "European Georgia", Elene Khoshtaria: "It's been 4 months since the end of Gavrilov's Night, when citizens were severely beaten at a state anti-occupation rally. I would like to read out the facts that illustrate the deep legal crisis that is taking place in our country today. I wonder about your reactions and responses to the community while in those chairs. We count 67 injured police officers and only 4 injured civilians. The injured citizens do not include Mako Gomuri, as well as Koba Letodiani. Neither those people are included in the list of the injured who attested to the prosecutor's office about the specific circumstances of how they received these injuries. 14 citizens, and not a single police officer, are still in prison until today".

Chair of the Regional Policy and Self-Government Committee, Zaza Gabunia: “October 10 marks the International Day for the Homeless, and the Committee made a decision to set up a Thematic Inquiry Group studying the situation of homeless people. This is one of the major social problems and challenges, a social event and it needs an adequate response from the State. It is important to analyze and identify the scale of homelessness and find the actors leading to the problem of being homeless. It is necessary to develop a national strategy to tackle this problem, to define an appropriate action plan, to highlight the role of central and municipal authorities in the strategy. This is an issue related to citizens' right to life, to their right of health, and to a number of paramount issues. In 2017, we assumed a constitutional commitment to providing decent housing, and within the ambit of the Open Government Partnership of 2018, Georgia should have the strategy and the action plan to eliminate this problem by 2021”.

First Vice Speaker, Tamar Chugoshvili: “We have provided the public with information on how the Parliament intends to exercise oversight during the Autumn Session. For years, the Georgian parliament has not paid enough attention to the parliamentary oversight, concession around the political debates over important public cases, and the issue of bringing the Government members to the Parliament. This year, the situation has changed, and the activities of the Parliament have been modified dramatically in this regard. Now, Plenary Sessions are scheduled to hear 5 ministers a year. There will be the interpellation, which is an important mechanism for discussing specific topical issues. There will be the Thematic Inquiry Groups by the committees and councils. 3 thematic inquiries have already completed, and 7 are underway. By the end of the year, it is also planned to set up additional 7 Thematic Inquiry Groups. Each of the 17 issues is interdependent and provides in-depth scrutiny and information by the Parliament on various topical issues in order to plan the right policies and make the right recommendations to the executive. The implementation of 16 Normative Acts within the new mechanism is also underway. These Acts stand for the Parliament to check how the laws are being implemented. It is a completely new phenomenon in our work and most importantly, we are waiting for the adoption of the State Budget and the oversight of the previous ones in terms of their implementation”.

Tamar Chugoshvili commented on the fact of the last week's femicide: "Although a variety of activities, thanks to the members of the Parliament and the Executive Body, and the response rates of gender-based violence and gender-based crimes is much more efficient than ever, each case is a gruesome tragedy, and each and every of us is required to prevent such facts to take place as much as possible.”

Independent MP, Eka Beselia: “Today we have introduced a new initiative to the Parliament, which has been elaborated on for a year with the active engagement of very important NGOs, addressing the safety of children and adolescents whose alarming statistics make us think about what legislative changes will be needed to take the issue of their safety to a more secured level. Our initiative is to introduce mandatory rules for all vehicles giving lift to children under 12. Public transport will be a temporary exception. The figures bespeak of a need for regulations, which is one of the EU's directives and we would like to introduce them to the Parliament”.

Secretary of the Faction “European Georgia – Movement for Freedom”, Khatuna Gogorishvili: “I would like to draw your attention to the process underway in the Parliament. The matter concerns the consideration of Candidates for the Supreme Court Judges. 10 candidates have already been heard. Half the process has gone through and the picture and impression that has been created is unfortunately not satisfactory. Judges are evaluated by several criteria including - competence, conscientiousness and general values. The candidates fail to meet any of all three criteria. We all strive to have the justice that is trustworthy and effective. Also, I do confirm that the process is going well and is very positive, but it doesn’t change bring any impacts, unless a specific outcome is achieved”.

Member if the Faction “Georgian Dream”, Alexander Kantaria: “I would like to respond to one of the thrilling stories. A couple of days ago I got the wind of the pre-election strategy of our creditable MP, Mr. Bokeria, and to tell the truth, it purified my heart. I would like to congratulate the Members of the Georgian Dream on this good news. It turns out that Mr. Bokeria is coming to power without the intention of our imprisonment. This is really great news. He is not going to imprison Bidzina Ivanishvili either because it exceeds far from the political courtesy. Giga Bokeria can never serve as a safeguard of peace and stability”.

Member of the Faction “Georgian Dream”, Alexander Erkvania: “It is unfortunate that our country faces the demographic catastrophe with huge figures of abortion, decreased birth rates, number of the divorced, etc. It is ironical for Georgia, the country where the death penalty is forbidden, parents happen to kill their children. Of course, there lies a difference between the abortion and the death of born-already child. Unless the Government and society act against this issue, there will always be zero welfare in the country. I urge the Government to assume effective measures and increase birth rates and declare a demographic state of emergency in the country”.

Member of the “Alliance of Patriots and Social-Democrats”, Gia Zhorzholiani: “A few months ago, our faction submitted a draft resolution to the Parliament on establishment of an Interim Investigation Commission on the Issue of a Financial Company of Georgia. The draft resolution is still on the agenda. The Parliament, within its responsibility, should set up a commission and start discussing the matter. It is clear that, in this case, the legislation in place at that time or the Government agencies that were required to control this process did not act adequately, contributing to the company's fraudulent scheme. We urge you to set a deadline for the nearest sessions, and discuss this draft resolution, set up the commission and, as the State, take the full responsibility for the fate of our citizens”.

Member of the faction “European Georgia”, Giga Bokeria: “The geopolitical situation is a disadvantage for us, our neighbors and our strategic partners. This situation may bring about a very bad impact on the Georgian economy in the first place. I urge you to consider this fact, as you, as the Government, are obliged to assume the appropriate steps when the situation in or around the world gets worse“.

Deputy Chair of the Faction “European Georgia – Movement for Freedom”, Lela Keburia: "I have heard the statement by Tea Oniani, the Deputy Head of the Department of Culture, who ensures the the long-term prospect of raising salaries for the museum staff. The preservation of existing cultural heritage sites is the responsibility of any government, and there is nothing special about the state providing infrastructure support to the Zugdidi Museum. Naturally, with better infrastructure, the museum's revenues will increase resulting in the increase of the staff salaries as well. However, when there is a place of unprecedented treasure in Georgia and the guards of these treasures have a living wage close to their subsistence minimum - it is shameful. These are the people who, in the gruesome 90s, didn't leave the museum for a moment but stayed to guard the precious treasures with completely bare hands”.

Member of the “Alliance of Patriots and Social-Democrats”, Emzar Kvitsiani: “The European Court of Human Rights exculpated Batiashvili and at the same time, acquitted me of the crime because Batiashvili was in prison for talking to me. The evidence was fabricated and the Court of Strasbourg reiterated that in 2006-2008 there was a collective betrayal of our country by the Government authorities, by the media. We have been demanding for setting up an ad Interim Parliamentary Commission to perform the comprehensive investigation".

Secretary of the Faction “National Movement”, Tinatin Bokuchava: “The issue of Machalikashvili was initiated today at the Bureau sitting. I hope the MPs from the “Georgian Dream” will now support the establishment of the commission. When the “United National Movement” raised the issue, the “Georgian Dream” rejected the initiative and cited the May 6 statement by the prosecutor's office, which said that the investigation should be completed within two months. More than 5 months have passed since then and we have not heard any conclusive statements from the prosecutor's office. I urge you, at least 15 to 20 MPs, to be those who truly understand the importance of the oversight function of parliament and support the creation of this commission when it comes to the Parliament".

Independent MP, Nato Chkheidze: “The process of selecting the Candidates for the Supreme Court Judges clearly showed everyone the real tragedy of the situation. Everyone saw who actually is in charge of the country. Not only the morality and unprofessionalism of those seeking a life tenure was evident, but also those who defended them and justified their sins”.

Member of the Faction "European Georgia", Sergo Ratiani: "Those who came out on the streets for the first time on the night of June 20 are still in prison. They are victims of a selective justice. Many are detained because they were glimpsed standing next to Okruashvili in camera. There are red lines, and those red lines are where the conscience ends. Dishonesty is to arrest these people and put them in jail”.

Independent MP, Levan Gogichaishvili: “We had to make amendments to the Law on Gambling two years ago. It's been a year and a half since a Government Bill has been put intact in place to create a system that prevents the underaged from playing games. The key here is security issues. The turnover of the gambling industry has exceeded 14 bl GEL. Every citizen is somehow related to this problem. Where is the Bill envisaged to be presented a year and a half before?

Chair of the Faction "Georgian Dream - Conservatives", Giga Bukia: "The process underway in the court is one of the great achievements of the "Georgian Dream". No one declines about the existing problems but today, the actual character of those individuals hearing the trials in the courts was even more revealed. I am sure the majority will make a decent decision that we will all see and value. At the same time, it is surprising when the opposition calls hypocrisy the fact that a majority representative poses critical questions to the candidate for the Supreme Court".

Independent MP Levan Koberidze: "Today's statement by the "Georgian Dream" made the reason of proposing the zero-threshold clear, which, in fact, was not requested for by anyone. The point is that the “Georgian Dream” needed the zero threshold for today. If the “Georgian Dream” fails to win more than 45% of votes, then new elections will be scheduled in the country. This is the PR of the party and actually attempts to intimidate the population into a volatile situation in the country. This statement of the ruling party is very irresponsible and I believe, both the population and the political parties will be wise enough to show active performance of the 2020 elections so that the Government fails to impose any of such conditions for its favor".

Following the political statements, the MPs resumed the sitting with sundry legislative activities.

The Deputy Minister of Finance, Giorgi Kakauridze introduced the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law of Georgia on “Accounting, Reporting and Auditing” with the I reading.

Obeying to the Bill, the Accounting, Reporting and Audit Supervision Service will be authorized to request information / documentation from a person / auditor / audit firm to verify the accuracy of the information contained in the register. The draft law also regulates communication of the Accounting, Reporting and Audit Service with the person / auditor / audit firm.

The Draft Law on “Combating Money Laundering and Prevention of Terrorist Financing" was considered and introduced by the Parliamentary Secretary of the Government, Natia Mikeladze with the II reading.
The draft law regulates the assessment and management of money laundering and terrorism financing risks, preventive measures, provision, retention and confidentiality of information, compliance control, issues related to the Financial Monitoring Service of Georgia, oversight and interagency cooperation, and UN Security Council.

One of the initiators, Guram Macharashvili introduced the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law of Georgia on Broadcasting with the I hearing. The Bill envisages the removal of the provision stating that the same person may not be elected as the Chair of the Georgian National Communications Commission for more than one term. In addition, the rule of dismissal of the Chair of the Commission is to be altered. In particular, the resignation of the Chair of the Commission will be possible by four-fifths of the full composition of the Commission instead of the majority.

I would support the initiative and the principle that the procedures for electing the Chair of the National Communications Commission and the Energy Regulatory Commission should be the same if the opposite is the case. However, I will oppose any regulation that excludes the Parliament from any process, and I will support any regulation that does vice versa”, - Khatuna Gogorishvili noted.

Giga Bokeria believes that the legislative initiative is tailored to the current Chair of the Georgian National Communications Commission. "If you strive for consensus, we propose that the law comes into force after the term of office of the Chair", - Giga Bokeria commented.

According to the independent MP, Levan Koberidze, the Government is trying to make the regulatory structures continue its political rule. "The collapsed system that actually exists today has to be replaced by the organic law on Competition that should regulate all areas, including telecommunications. It is awkward when there is some non-Parliamentary force dictating a decision. I will put forward an alternative for the Parliament to elect the Chair of the Communications Commission. The focus shall be on individuals, rather than institutions”, - Levan Gogichaishvili stated.

Khatuna Gogorishvili tended to the parliament not to vote on the Draft Law today and stated: “Maybe we will discuss and come up with a decision that will be acceptable to everyone. We may form a unified rule. Thusly, we should postpone the voting process until the discussion doesn’t come to an end.”

According to the Chair of the Procedural Issues and Rules Committee, Giorgi Kakhiani, in addition to political estimations, opponents have not presented legal arguments as to why the Chair of the Commission cannot be re-elected for a second term.

"One of the main reasons we are initiating these changes is to be consistent with two Regulators so that the same issues that are regulated with respect to these two Regulators become similar and equally regulated", - G. Kakhiani stated and added that it would probably be right for the Parliament to first discuss the Amendments to the Law and the Rules of Procedure on "Electricity and Natural Gas" because the questions raised in relation to this Bill might have been dropped.

The MPs also considered the Bill on Amendments to the Law on “Electricity and Natural Gas”, according to which the Commission itself will elect the Chair of the Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission with predefined term of office and the procedure of electing the Chair. In addition, the Draft Law defines the procedure for the dismissal of the Commission Chair and establishes the appropriate procedure.

Our goal is for these two independent regulatory commissions to have a common standard. For this purpose, we are introducing a change envisaging the election of the Chair by majority and based on the principle of 3 + 3”, - Guram Macharashvili commented.

The Chair of the Faction "Georgian Dream", Mamuka Mdinaardze echoed the ongoing talks around the adoption of the Bill: "Now it is about those to be elected for three years and to have the right to be re-elected, who in turn were elected by the Parliament. This is the Commission that has been facilitating the launch of newly founded TV Channels within 10 days unhinderedly. Therefore, I don't find any particular problem and drawback here, and that's why we approve the presented amendment proposal. Since the Chair is elected by the MPs, there should be no concern here”, - Mamuka Mdinaradze noted.

The Draft Law on Amendments to the Rules of Procedure that envisages bringing the Rules of Procedure into compliance with the Draft Law of on Changes to the Law "On Electricity and Natural Gas" introduced in a capacity of the draft law package, was considered with the I reading. Upon the adoption, the Rules of Procedure will no longer regulate the issue of electing the Chair of the Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission.

At the sitting, the Chair of the Legal Issues Committee, Anri Okhanashvili introduced with the III reading the Bill on Amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses, according to which the 10-day time limit for appealing the decision on administrative offense should be applied to submission of the resolution to the party. However, according to the draft law, in case of failure to deliver the resolution to the relevant person, it shall be publicly disclosed in accordance with the procedure established by the Code of Civil Procedure and shall be deemed to be filed on the third day after its disclosure.

The Bill on Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia was also considered with the III reading.

At the Plenary Sitting, the First Deputy Minister of Justice, Mikheil Sarjveladze introduced the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law "On the Procedure of Execution of Non-Custodial Penalties and Probation", which envisages the amendment of the title of the Law of Georgia on the Procedure of Non-custodial Penalties and Probation to "On the Prevention of Crime, the Procedure of Execution of Non-Custodial Penalties and Probation". The Bill envisages merging the LEPL Non-Custody Penalty Enforcement and Probation National Agency and Crime Prevention Center into the LEPL Crime Prevention, Non-Custody Penalty Enforcement, Probation and Crime Prevention National Agency. The Draft Law also specifies the criteria for issuing a permit for the inmates to travel abroad, extension and termination of the permit accordingly.

The package of Bills "On Energy and Water Supply", introduced by the Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Davit Tvalabeishvili, was also discussed with the I reading.

The draft law regulates the issues related to the production, transmission, distribution, supply as well as trade in the electricity and natural gas sectors and the issues in connection with the energy activities, energy markets, supply security, water supply, administrative responsibility and resolutions of disputes.

The Bill on Amendments to the Law of Georgia “On Culture” was introduced with the I reading by the Chair of the Education, Science and Culture Committee, Mariam Jashi.

According to the Draft Law, deciding on the placement of architectural and artistic composition and its agreement with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia will be applied to the competence of local self-government bodies in the field of culture.

The Draft Resolutions on the documents prepared for ratification were also discussed at the Plenary Sitting.

The Plenary will be resumed with voting tomorrow at 12h00.