GD to Offer Constitutional Changes on Parliament's Location
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 3 Dec.'12 / 13:52

40-meter high glass dome building of the Parliament in Kutaisi has 200-meter long thin shell concrete structure, covering the glass-dome like a stripe. The building was designed by CMD Ingenieros.

Georgian Dream parliamentary majority plans to table a draft of constitutional amendment proposing to remove from the constitution a clause which defines Georgia’s second-largest city of Kutaisi as the location for the Parliament.

The draft, if approved, will pave the way for relocation of the Parliament back to the capital city Tbilisi, something that is pushed for by the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority.

The draft’s wording, however, does not necessarily require for the Parliament to be based in Tbilisi; it only offers removing the provision, passed in 2011, which makes it binding for the Parliament to be based in Kutaisi.  

Georgian Dream lawmaker Vakhtang Khmaladze, who chairs parliamentary committee for legal affairs, says that the issue of Parliament’s location should be defined by the Parliament’s regulations and not by the constitution.
 
Although the Georgian Dream holds the majority of seats in the Parliament, it falls short of constitutional majority.

Currently the Georgian Dream has 83 seats in 150-member Parliament. Originally Georgian Dream had 85 seats, but three majoritarian MP seats are now vacant before the by-elections after three Georgian Dream majoritarian MPs moved to executive government. 

UNM endorsed in the Parliament 65 of its members, but now it has 58 lawmakers; six former UNM members formed a separate faction within the parliament, which is not a member of UNM’s parliamentary minority group and one UNM MP has recently switched sides to Georgian Dream, increasing the latter’s number from 82 to 83.

Even if Georgian Dream attracts the support from a new six-member faction of former UNM lawmakers, which is not unlikely, it will still be 11 votes short of 100 required for passing a constitutional amendment.

“I hope at least part of [the UNM lawmakers] will vote for this constitutional amendment [about Parliament’s location],” said Georgian Dream MP Vakhtang Khmaladze.

After the draft is initiated the Parliament will not be able to vote on the proposal for at least one month – the legally binding period required for formal public discussions about a constitutional amendment.

In November a working group was set up upon instructions from Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili, to study legal aspects of construction of the new parliament building and its funding. There have always been concerns from watchdog groups about lack of transparency of funding and construction process of the new parliament building.

The group, led by Georgian Dream MP Zurab Tkemaladze of the Industrialist Party, said that multiple legal violations were found, which required further inquiry from the state audit agency. The Parliament passed a resolution last month asking the State Audit Office to look into the matter.

The parliamentary working group said it found that total of “approximately GEL 360 million” (up to USD 217 million) was spent for the construction of the new parliament building in Kutaisi.

MP Tkemaladze told lawmakers last month that the construction was not yet fully completed and according to various estimations from GEL 15 million to GEL 20 million (about USD 9-12 million) was required in addition to complete the construction.

MP Khmaladze says that he hopes it will be possible to relocate Parliament back to the capital city before or after the end of the parliamentary spring session in June, 2013. The old Parliament building in Tbilisi requires a renovation. The previous government was intending to privatize the building and it has been emptied and its chamber, where parliamentary sittings were held, was gutted.

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