Couple of thousand protesters gathered outside the Parliament on March 15 to protest against the new regulations for sellers in outdoor markets, involving use of cash registers.
Leaders and activists from the New Rights, Labor, Conservative, Republican, Freedom, Georgia’s Way, National-Democratic opposition parties jointed the rally.
Similar protest rallies are held in Batumi, Poti and Zugdidi. Several protesters were arrested by the police in Samtredia on March 15 after demonstrators tried to block main road there.
MP Koba Davitashvili of the Conservative Party called on the authorities to solve the problem through a dialogue with the protesters and opposition. Some opposition leaders, including Labor Party leader Shalva Natelashvili voiced more radical demands, including “getting rid” of the current authorities.
At a session of the Parliamentary Committee for Financial Issues the opposition Conservative Party proposed a draft law, which envisages postponement of enforcement of law adopted by the Parliament in late December, 2005 according to which those outdoor sellers who are not using cash registers starting from March 1 will have to pay a GEL 500 (USD 278) fine. Subsequent violations envisage higher fees, from between GEL 5,000 (USD 2 750) to GEL 10,000 (up to USD 5 500). The opposition demands to put use of cash registers into practice gradually.
“Administration of law [on cash registers] is not currently strict and we only welcome this. So we propose, if this not put into practice let us postpone its enforcement for several months,” MP Koba Davitashvili, leader of the Conservative Party, said at the parliamentary committee session on March 15.
But the parliamentarians from the ruling National Movement party declined the opposition’s proposal. Debates during the committee session grew into a verbal insult between the opposition and parliamentarians from the ruling party.
Despite the parliamentary committee’s refusal to approve the opposition’s draft law, the Conservative Party still has a right top put the issue for consideration at the parliamentary session, but with little chance of further approval.
Series of protest rallies have already been held in Tbilisi and number of other provincial towns last week. But Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli told opposition parliamentarians on March 9 that the government will not change its decision over cash registers.