The Parliament heard the Reports by the Legal Aid Service and the Pension Agency for 2018

18 Oct 2019
The Parliament heard the Reports by the Legal Aid Service and the Pension Agency for 2018

The Plenary started with consideration of the bill on Energy and Natural Gas with the III reading redefining election of the Chair of the Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission and granting the power to the Commission to elect and dismiss the Chair.

Respective change is to be introduced to the Rules of Procedure where if the law is adopted, the regulations defining election of the Commission Chair shall be withdrawn.

The bill was introduced by Guram Macharashvili along with the bill on Broadcasting with the III reading. The bill allows re-election of the Chair of the Communications Regulatory Commission with the second term and changes the dismissal rules – with 4.5 of the members instead of full majority.

The draft organic law on Local Self-Government Code was introduced with the III reading by the Deputy IDPs Minister, Zaza Bokhua. The draft envisages the LEPL Medical Emergency Center to merge with the LEPL Emergency Coordination and Urgent Assistance Center to simplify access to the services.

The First Deputy Environmental Minister Giorgi Khanishvili introduced the bill on Water Users’ Organizations envisaging set-up of the organizations to regulate use of the irrigation infrastructure. The bill is conditioned with the necessity to regulate the water fee and waters supply issues. “Providing that rehabilitation, modernization and technical improvement of the melioration systems in view of improvement of the soil fertility, it has been considered expedient to develop the law on Water Users’ Organizations taking the modern approaches and international standards into account”, - the reporter noted.

The Speaker, Archil Talakvadze asked about improvements by the changes and possible increased expenses for the citizens.

The independent MP Levan Gogichaishvili asked about certain changes, possible risks, budget expenses and expected outcome.

Irakli Abesadze asked about financing of the organizations.

As G. Khanishvili responded, the bill improves water supply for the population and ensures sustainable development of agriculture.

He also introduced the bill on Enforcement Proceedings envisaging the individual-administrative-legal act by the entity authorized by the LEPL Water Users’ Organizations to be subject to enforcement under the law.

The co-reporter, First Deputy Chair of the Agrarian Committee Gela Samkharauli stated that it is important to ensure engagement of the farmers in water supply system. This initiative, creation of the legal basis and formation of the system will be important for efficiency of agriculture. The discussions outlined the number of the issues recognized important. “Indeed, this sphere needs to be regulated through the new incentives and the initiative is fully substantiated. As to the nuances, they shall be thoroughly discussed within the I and II readings and I assign the leading Committee to ensure this process”, - as stated.

After the short break, MPs voted for the discussed bills and resumed with consideration of the bill on Animal Life with the I reading granting the powers to local municipalities to regulate wildlife.

According to the Deputy Environmental Minister Nino Tandilashvili, often the wild animals (bears, wolves etc.) attack the farm animals and the local residents. Hence, the Municipalities appeal to the Government for the authority to withdraw the wild animals from environment. As it is a protracted process, the decision shall be made promptly.

According to the co-reporter, First Deputy Chair of the Environmental Committee, Zaza Khutsishvili, “These changes are proper but as the forest cut shall be ensured by the professionals, so this sphere needs due regulation. There are the rules to be adhered to”.

The Majority Leader Gia Volski stated that “The law is necessary and expected by the people but it needs the professional instructions for the Municipalities”.

The Ministry has developed certain instructions. MPs heard the report by the LEPL Legal Aid Service for 2019 introduced by the Director, Razhden Kuprashvili.

According to the Chair of the Legal Issues Committee, Anri Okhanashvili, the report was positively estimated by the Committee. “In general, the Legal Aid Service in 2018 improved the qualitative and quantitative tendencies. The population shall receive the services oriented to the public interests. Besides, for the first time in history of LAS, the number of the cases exceeded 16 000, where 75% is attributed to the criminal sphere. The Service also improved accessibility and launched the phone and internet consultations center. The web-portal now operates also in English and Russian”.

Since 2012, the mandate of the LAS has been significantly extended not only on the criminal cases but on administrative and civil categories as well. The positive tendencies are evident in terms of the juveniles. As from June 1, 2020, the LAS will render respective legal aid to juveniles regardless their status. “We had certain recommendations for higher accessibility to the Service, as well as adaptation of the Offices for the persons with disabilities. Also, the Service shall enhance its activity for public awareness and ensure intensification of the informative meetings with the population to cover all the regions”.

The Committee also recommended launching the free online consultation network for the vulnerable strata.

According to A. Okhanashvili, the Committee gives the positive assessment to the report and “based on the recommendations provided in the Committee opinion, it is considered expedient for the Parliament to approve the report to allow the Service enhancing its activity for the benefit of the interests of the society”.

MPs heard the report by the Pension Agency for 2018 introduced by the Director, Levan Surguladze speaking about the pension reform, as well as the measures upheld since August, 2018, equipment of the office, development of the pension deposits administration model etc. The Agency has developed the pension deposit payment rules, forms of information submission and administration regulating and defining rights and duties of the employers and self-employees, as well as participants of the accumulative pension scheme.

The co-reporter, Chair of the Health Care and Social Issues Committee Akaki Zoidze hailed the activity of the Agency as it is the only reform not only in Georgia but in the world ensuring dignified pension for the future generations.

Thus, we take care of the people, of their future and pension age to prevent the condition the pensioners are now in. The reform shall improve the condition of the pensioners. The role of the state is to assist those with the low income. It is the component of social justice. And yet another component is economy as a key driving force. These are the sums entrusted to you by the people and you just dispose those sums for a certain period. So, you need a high good faith. So far, I see you have professionals in the Investment Council we all have selected”.

According to the member of the Faction “European Georgia”, Zurab Chiaberashvili, the alternative scheme would be more democratic as it envisaged voluntary participation. “If we are aspired to take care of the people, we need to have the voluntary system where at least 10% of the population would accumulate their pensions instead of the scheme, where rich MPs accumulate their pensions at the expenses of the poor and low-income youth. Today, this system grants the preference to the people under the pension age to accumulate their pensions at the expenses of the youth”.

He spoke about basic pension indexing formula to increase the pensions in the future, as well as the capital market reform etc.

A. Zoidze responded to the opposition MP that his statements mislead the society. “We will discuss indexation but urging that the pension will not increase with more than 12% annually, is misleading information. The first step we have made is that the pensioners over 70 will receive the pension increased with 50 GEL in 2020. Also, we increase the indexation not dependent on false promises of the politicians. The sums accumulated in the Agency will ensure dignified pension. Current pensioners will receive increased pension and will enjoy reduced expenses for the medicines under the 1-GEL program with more than 90 000 persons beneficiaries”.

L. Surguladze in his final speech responded to the opponents and named the reasons why the people leave the pension scheme – probably the Agency failed to elucidate the benefits to these people, he noted.

Thus, the plenary session has been closed.