Government submitted to the Parliament for consideration package of legislative amendments envisaging significant downscale of Ministry of Environment, the move slammed by the environmental groups.
According to voluminous package, which includes draft amendments into 45 laws, most of the Environment Ministry's functions will be transfered to the Ministry of Energy and some functions will be redistributed between the Ministry of Economy, Agriculture Ministry, Justice Ministry and Ministry for Regional Development and Infrastructure.
The government has requested lawmakers to speed up discussion of the proposed draft. According to Parliament's Vice Speaker from the ruling party, Mikheil Machavariani, the bill would probably be approved with its second reading by March 9. The third and final reading of draft laws is a technical procedure during which no significant amendments are made into drafts.
According to the proposed package, functions related with management and use of natural resources, as well as management of geological threats and geological environment and issues related with nuclear and radioactive regulations will be transfered to the Ministry of Energy.
Forestry Agency of the Environment Ministry will merge into the National Agency for Oil and Gas, which will be renamed into the Agency of Natural Resources under the subordination of the Energy Ministry.
According to the package, Environment Protection Inspection and the Investigations Department will, at first, be transfered under the subordination of the Energy Ministry and then, two months later, both of the units will be abolished.
In addition to these functions, the Energy Ministry will also incorporate the Economy Ministry's current duties related to issuing licenses on use of natural resource. As a result the ministry with its increased functions will be renamed into the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resource.
Other changes that would further downgrade Environment Ministry's functions, the Agency of Protected Areas will be transfered under the subordination of the Economy Ministry.
Issues related with pesticides, agrochemicals and land preservation will be transfered from the Environment Ministry to the Ministry of Agriculture, according to the package.
The Justice Ministry's public registry agency will take over the Environment Ministry's functions related with defining and amending forest boundaries, as well as amending purpose of land.
The Environment Ministry will also be deprived of coastal management functions, which will be transfered under the subordination of the Ministry for Regional Development and Infrastructure.
PM Nika Gilauri said on February 22 that the proposed "formula" of the Environment Ministry's restructuring had been agreed with "everyone" and it "will work much more effectively."
Reorganized Ministry of Environment "will have more strict control functions, as it will be focused on the issues related with protection of the environment," PM Gilauri said.