Parliament speaker, Davit Usupashvili, laid out number of the authorities’ “mistakes”, among them being “overly focused” on the past and too slow pace of decision-making process, which, he said, was causing uncertainty and was damaging for the economy.
He made the remarks while speaking at Channel 9 TV’s talk show late on July 31 when asked about economic slowdown. Usupashvili said that this negative trend pre-dated current government and the slowdown started from the third quarter of 2012, but also said that number of shortcomings in the work of the current authorities, both of the government and the Parliament, was contributing to uncertainty, which was not helpful for the economy.
“I’ll tell you what our mistakes are, which should be addressed as soon as possible,” Usupashvili, the leader of Republican Party and one of the leaders of the Georgian Dream coalition, said.
“That is waste of too much time, waste of too much energy on the past and being overly focused on the past. With our deeds and words we should show to everyone, including to investors that we are thinking more on what we are going to do tomorrow; this is a very important issue. This is also one of the issues why we [apparently referring to Republican Party] are often under fire with [opponents] accusing us of wanting to save [UNM and former government officials from prosecution for alleged past crimes]. No, we don’t want it, but we don’t want either those people [ex-officials and UNM] to drag us into [this situation] and we don’t want to spend nine more months speaking on Mikheil Saakashvili. A businessman watching to this situation will ask: ‘is it the main problem in this country or they should be focused on how to tackle actual problems?’,” Usupashvili said.
He said that a decision should be made without further delay on how the current government was going to tackle such serious issues like ownership of disputed property, which were seized from previous owners under the former government.
“We are in the government for more than nine months already and a decision should be made: we are either investigating what has to be investigated or we should stop it and move forward… No justice will be restored if people continue living under constant stress. What I mean by that is the following: nine months or let’s say one year is completely enough to give a clear answer to those people who say that their right to private property was violated. On the other hand [disputed] property is now owned by someone else, who is waiting for an outcome whether this property will be seized from them [and returned to previous owners] or not. These disputed property issues, involving businesses or other properties… have not vanished. So we should decide on these issues and state clearly what will happen. Uncertainty is the most damaging factor for the business,” he said.
The parliament speaker also said that in general the authorities “should bring more clarity in our economic plans”.
“Another problem which I think we have is slow pace of decision-making process – both in the Parliament and in the government,” Usupashvili said. “We should be taking decisions faster.”
He said that slow pace of decision-making process under the current authorities had its “objective reasons”; he said that under the previous government decisions were made by narrow circle of people, making pace of this process faster, but “under democratic procedures, which we are introducing” decision-making process was becoming more time consuming process.
“But of course we should not go to extreme in this regard,” Usupashvili said, adding that the practice of discussing same issue for multiple times without taking any decision at all should not continue. “This is a serious issue on which we are working.”
He also said that while the current situation in the economy, despite of slowdown, “is not alarming”, the Parliament would summon government’s economic team to discuss plans for the second half of the year and how to make the policies and environment more predictable.
Asked if PM Ivanishvili’s plan to step down after the October 27 presidential election was also contributing to uncertainty, Usupashvili responded: “As far as Prime Minister’s ‘plans’ [to resign] are concerned, I want to say that this is not a plan yet. We have an agreement [with Ivanishvili] that before this idea becomes a plan, we should have a serious discussion about it.”
The most recently PM Ivanishvili spoke about pre-term resignation in an interview with the Brussels-based EUobserver.com in which he said that he would step down from PM’s post “before the new year.”
Usupashvili, however, acknowledged that frequent talk of PM’s pre-term resignation “is not helpful.”