Council of Europe: Substantial progress achieved for local and regional democracy in Georgia

Agenda.ge, 8 Nov 2018 - 12:02, Tbilisi,Georgia

Substantial progress has been achieved in the field of local and regional democracy in Georgia over the past 15 years, a report on local and regional democracy in Georgia adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe reads.

Issued after a monitoring visit to Georgia in April 2018 by the congress’ delegation, the report also says that the lack of clarity in competency distribution, difficulties faced by opposition members in access to information held by municipal administrations, and risks of the over-concentration of power in the hands of mayors should be addressed.

We have concluded that the situation of local and regional democracy in Georgia is overall satisfactory,” said one of the rapporteurs, Stewart Dickson, mentioning “a genuine political will to improve democracy.”

Among the positive developments in the report are the:

  • Explicit recognition of the principle of subsidiarity by the Constitution.
  • Introduction of direct election of mayors.
  • Establishment of new mechanisms of citizens’ participation.
  • General increase in financial capacities of local government through additional tax revenue.
  • Modernisation of the auditing system.
  • Further reinforcement of the constitutional status of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara.
  • Active involvement of the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia in decision-making.

It is also important that significant regional disparities, in particular between the capital city Tbilisi and other regions, are now being addressed by a regional development strategy for balancing the economic weight of Tbilisi,” Dickson said.

Tbilisi alone produces half of the Georgian GDP and attracts ¾ of the direct foreign investments,” he noted.

“The inequalities of standard of living in urban and rural areas are becoming concerning. So, we strongly recommend that Georgian authorities continue their regional development efforts,” he said.

Dickson stated that several opposition members raised the issue of access to information held by municipal administrations and “generally problematic practices” that prevent opposition members from fulfilling their role in assemblies and other municipal bodies.

He said that the climate of mistrust among the representatives of the ruling party and the opposition was evident, and recommended both sides to take further steps in restoring mutual trust.

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