Weekly Review of the Parliamentary Committees. September 17-23, 2001

Committee for Taxes and Incomes

The committee discussed budget indicators for the 8 months and possibility of sequester of the budget. Representatives of the concerned ministries and department, as well as divisions of economic crime of the power structures attended the meeting.

Budget deficit for the 8 months reached 60 million Laris. Roman Gotsiridze, head of the budget office predicts increase of this figure to 90 millions for the end of the year.

Incomes from tobacco taxes kept decreasing. Minister of Tax Incomes stressed necessity that only one tobacco importing company is paying taxes to the budget. Such situation has serious impact on incomes to the budget. 200 million Laris sequester is expected. Finance Ministry pledges that the sequester would not affect “protected” paragraphs of the budget.

Chairman Vitali Khazaradze stated that the committee would support the sequester only if the subjects, responsible for unfulfilled budget would bear responsibility.

Committee for Civil Integration

The committee discussed the bill on the State Language. The Chairman of the Chamber of State Language Levan Gvinjilia presented the bill. The bill has been in the process of development for three years. Its author Levan Gvinjilia does not regard is as ideal document and believes that the bill would be adjusted during the Parliamentary hearings.

The bill considers necessary knowledge of Georgian language for any non-ethnic Georgian citizen who wants to serve in Governmental or public institutions. Non-ethnic Georgian parliamentarians and citizens who attended the committee hearings supported the bill. They stressed necessity of existence special courses of Georgian language.

Committee for Legal Issues, Rule of Law and Administrative Reforms

The committee discussed amendments to the Election Code. Representatives of the non-governmental organizations attended the meeting.

Committee member Vakhtang Khmaladze has presented amendments concerning use of ID documents during the voting. The amendments also consider suspension of structural changes in the law enforcing structures until the second tour of the elections; rule of suspension of functions of the election commission members; rules of composition of local election commissions in case if NGOs fail to compose the central election commission.

Irakli Mindeli, member of the “Socialist” faction believes that there is an attempt to adjust the Election Code to the approaching Local Self-governance Elections. He suggested postponement of the elections for three more weeks; otherwise number of procedures of the Law would be violated.

It was decided to resume discussion of the amendments after the Opposition meets and comes out with its positions on each paragraph of the amendments.

Deputy Prosecutor General Venedi Benidze, who has been invited to the Committee meeting, expressed his discontent to the facts, publicized in the TV program 60 minutes. He stated, that the Prosecutor’s Office launched a case on these facts on August 21st. Benidze accused author of “60 Minutes” Akaki Gogichaishvili in being tendentious. Benidze’s statement that use of hidden camera is illegal and may not be used as evidence resulted in fierce debates with the representatives of the non-governmental organizations.