Funding of the local self-government will increase to seven percent of the Gross Domestic Product by 2025, Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze announced today in his presentation of the National Vision of Local Self-Governance and Decentralization in Georgia.
The corresponding reform strategy and the action plan, to be developed by the Parliament in 2018 with UNDP, Swiss and Austrian financial and technical support, will entail gradual increase of the powers of the self-governing bodies, fiscal decentralization, and better local governance.
“Our ultimate goal is to become a full-fledged member of the European family, and it won’t be possible unless we establish a European system of decentralized governance,” Kobakhidze said, also highlighting the need for developing “a unified, complex decentralization strategy.”
The Parliament Speaker stressed that the forthcoming reform would be implemented in close coordination with civil society organizations, experts and the National Association of Self-Governments. He also emphasized the importance of “the political will” in the reform process, and thanked Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili to that end.
PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who presented on the reform plans as well, said “regions should be entitled to make their own decisions; they should possess sufficient resources to make the decisions and enforce them.”
The Prime Minister also noted that economic inequality across the country was “a serious challenge” that would be addressed through self-government reform. “Highly educated youth will be interested to get involved in local self-governance, thus promoting regional development,” he said.
The ruling Georgian Dream party launched the local self-government reform several years ago.
In 2014, the Parliament adopted the Self-Government Code paving the way for direct elections of municipal mayors and gamgebelis (executives), with the number of self-governing cities increasing from five to twelve.
Last year, the Parliament approved amendments to the Local Self-Government Code, reducing the number of self-governing cities from twelve to five again, triggering strong criticism from opposition parties and civil society organizations.
PM Kvirikashvili spoke of the government’s intentions to carry out a new wave of the self-government reform during his parliamentary confidence vote hearings in December 2017.