GEO

Report by Municipal Council (Sakrebulo) Factions in the Autonomous Republic of Adjara

06 September, 2016

 

 

Transparency International Georgia continues to monitor activities of the local authorities. This time, we are presenting information about the performance of Municipal Council factions in the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. Our organization has already released results of similar studies for Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Guria Councils.  

The present study provides information on the number of municipality factions in the A/R of Adjara, the issues they have initiated and remuneration of employees at municipal councils.

According to the public information, as of February 2016 there are 35 factions registered in 6 municipal councils of Adjara region. The information used in the survey covers the period from the date of the faction registration (from 2014 self-government elections) through February 2016. 

Based on the study results, we may conclude that:

  • Frequently, creation of factions serves the purpose of getting remuneration from the budget. With the exception of municipal officials, performance of municipal council members is not subject to compensation; therefore, registration of factions is mostly driven by remuneration ends.   
  • Over the reporting period, not even a single initiative has been put forward by any of the 12 factions registered in Shuakhevi and Khulo municipalities;
  • There are 7 factions in Kobuleti municipality and they have come up with just 3 initiatives during the reporting period.
  • There are 5 initiatives registered in Khelvachauri municipal council, 16 initiatives in Keda and 14 initiatives in Batumi.

As for the initiatives put forward by opposition factions, municipal councils are characterized by low degree of their acceptance – initiatives have been approved just in Batumi and Khelvachauri, final decision hasn’t been adopted yet on initiatives in Kobuleti; overall, out of 38 initiatives registered after the self-government elections, 27 have been put forward by opposition factions; from the given 27 initiatives, only 4 have been approved.

Report of Batumi Municipal Council Factions

Following 2014 self-government elections, the following factions have been formed in Batumi municipal council:

1. Georgian Dream – On 17 July 2014, composed of 11 members;

2. Georgian Dream - Republicans - On 17 July 2014, composed of 3 members;

3. Georgian Dream – Free Democrats - On 17 July 2014, composed of 3 members; After coalition of Irakli Alasania quitted the Georgian Dream, the faction changed its name; starting from 7 November 2014, it operates under the name of Free Democrats, composition of its members remains unchanged.

4. United National Movement – 17 July 2014, composed of 3 members; 

5. New Opposition - On 27 August 2014, composed of 3 members.

In November 2015, chairperson of Batumi Municipal Council Irakli Cheishvili dismissed Tamaz Turmanidze, Chairman of the “Georgian Dream” faction from the office, citing poor performance as the main reason for dismissal.  Though, according to Turmanidze, difference in views and opinions was the actual cause.

Based on the obtained information, out of 14 initiatives put forward by the factions, Batumi Municipal Council has approved just 2. 11 initiatives belonged to the faction National Movement whereas 3 initiatives - to Free Democrats.

The issue initiated by the Free Democrats – “start of administrative proceedings for non-performance of terms envisaged by the decree N 83, issued on 30 April 2014 regarding transfer of the real estate of the self-governing city of Batumi to the Autonomous Republic” – was removed on 25 February 2015 following the ballot at the municipal council meeting.  

On 21 May 2012, Free Democrats requested start of administrative proceedings for non-compliance with the conditions set out by the decree N119 (in Batumi, building in the seaside park, with area of 202 sq. m. café-bar and non-agricultural plot of land with area pf 2053 sq. m.). The council declined the given initiative as well.  Application of the “Free Democrats” to Batumi Municipality suffered the same fate. The initiative was declined as a result of the ballot. 

Initiatives by the National Movement faction:  

  1. On 23 September 2014, Municipal Council approved the initiative of the “National Movement” – on moving adjustments to the sub-program of 2014 municipal social security program, which implied allocation of GEL 1000 financial assistance twice a year to the families registered in Batumi, having four or more children and rating score below 57 000 points.
  2. The Municipal Council dismissed the proposal, which envisaged broadcasting of meetings of commissions, interim working groups and bureaus.
  3. Initiative on moving amendments to the resolution on “use, planning and development of settlement areas in the self-governing city of Batumi” – was not supported either: the project entailed authorizing the municipality to make free decisions,  independently of the Georgian Government, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, the Government of Adjara A/R and the Ministry of Finance and Economy on increasing the coefficient K2 above 60% for those investment projects, which were of particular importance for Batumi in terms of solving public, humanitarian, economic, defense, cultural issues.
  4. The project envisaged amendments to association and registration documents of those business entities, which were founded by the City Council as legal entities and non-entrepreneurial legal entities. The project aimed to secure consent of Batumi City Council on letting Batumi Municipality executive body carry out authority of a founder/member of the legal entity; however, the given initiative was not shared either.
  5. Another initiative of the “United National Movement” pertained to granting the recreation area status to the plot of land adjacent to Batumi Art Center. The City Council turned down the given initiative.
  6. In January 2015, the faction put forward an initiative, which envisaged construction of living spaces for families dwelling in barracks in Tamari settlement and transfer of flats into their ownership; however, the initiative was declined by the majority of the City Council.
  7. The faction requested to remove the building of the University of Technology from the list of sites subject to privatization -  the proposal was declined; 
  8. The initiative on increase of remuneration for kindergarten staff was also rejected;
  9. Batumi City Council approved the initiative on founding “Shindisi Heroes” square in Batumi. The square was opened in May 2016.  

The National Movement has twice requested appointment of a special session to discuss developments around Batumi Boulevard and reasons for denying permit to Rustavi 2 Concert; the faction requested attendance of the Mayor Giorgi Ermakov at the meeting; though, none of the requests has been satisfied.

Keda Sakrebulo

Keda Municipal Council is composed of 22 members and 6 factions. According to the obtained information, the Georgian Dream party has two factions bearing the same name. There are 7 members in one faction, whereas the second one includes 3 members. Keda Municipal Council includes the following factions: National Movement, Democratic Movement, faction Keda (composed of the members from the Free Democrats and the Republican Party), Georgian Dream,  Georgian Dream – National Forum, Georgian Dream.

According to the Municipal Council, the factions have registered 16 initiatives over the period between 2014 and February 2016. Out of the given initiatives, positive decisions have been adopted with respect to five, mostly pertaining to procedural issues; for example, outlining a specific form for the progress report by Council members; approval of the Council staff list, approval of the General Assembly bylaws, compensation for expenses incurred by Council members while performing their duties; change of school name in Gogiashvili village. The rest of the issues were rejected by the Municipal Council.  

National Movement had 5 initiatives, all of them were rejected. The initiatives pertained to: use of Keda Municipality bonus fund for assisting the vulnerable families; moving adjustments to 2014 Social Security program; measures aimed at accelerating the property recognition process in the Municipality; measures aimed at improving performance of factions.

All 3 initiatives of  Democratic Movement faction were declined as well. The initiatives pertained to drawing side and solid street lines and marking parking areas in Keda; changing name of the “Victory Park”.     

Khelvachauri Municipal Council

Following 2014 elections, 5 factions were established in Khelvachauri Municipal Council: Georgian Dream – Conservatives and Industrialists, Democratic Movement, United National Movement, faction Georgian Dream, the faction Georgian Dream-Free Democrats.

Out of five factions formed after 2014 local self-government elections, the National Movement is the only one to come up with initiatives. Overall, out of the five projects presented by the faction, two initiatives have been approved: the first initiative pertains to development of rules for organized management and maintenance of cemetery areas and the other – introduction and granting of titles of honor and awards in the Municipality.

As for rejected initiatives, they pertained to increase of compensation for staff at the cultural center, the union of kindergartens and the sport school; targeted assistance program for roofing areas owned by vulnerable families (up to 57 000 rating points); adjustments to the Budget (reserve fund, execution fund for indebtedness of previous years and judicial decisions), development of rules on change management.

Shuakhevi Municipal Council

Shuakhevi Municipal Council has 24 members and six factions: Georgian Dream composed of six members (although, after the Council members Otar Surmanidze and Tariel Diasamidze initiated impeachment of the Council Chairman, both were expelled from the faction; Surmanidze was dismissed from chairmanship of the faction as well); the faction Industrialists (with three members); Georgian Dream – Republicans, presently referred to as the Conservatives, with three members (members of the Republican Party have joined the “Conservatives”),  “Patriotic Alliance”, “National Movement” and ”Free Hall”.

Since 2014 local self-government elections, Shuakhevi Municipal Council has received no specific initiatives from the factions.

Khulo Municipal Council

After 2014 local self-government elections, the following factions got registered in the Municipal Council: “Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia” - 6 members; “Georgian Dream – Republicans”; “Georgian Dream – Conservatives”,
Georgian Dream – the National Forum, United Democratic Movement”, “United National Movement”.

Since 2014, two factions have been cancelled in Khulo Municipal Council: “Georgian Dream - Free Democrats – Conservatives” and “Georgian Dream - Industry Will Save Georgia”.

Not even a single initiative has been put forward by the Municipal Council factions over the reporting period.

Kobuleti Municipal Council

There are 7 factions in Kobuleti Municipal Council: Georgian Dream, Georgian Dream – Conservatives, Georgian Dream – Republicans, Victorious Kobuleti, Patriotic Alliance, United National Movement, Majoritarians.  

Over the reporting period, the factions have put forward three initiatives: faction Georgian Dream presented a home care program; faction National Movement – assistance program for mortgage-affected people and faction Victorious Kobuleti – establishment of an interim working group to study cases of illegal and unauthorized construction.   

All three initiatives have been forwarded to Kobuleti Gamgeoba for further consideration.

Given the fact that public information retrieved from Municipal Councils of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara is mixed and responses to the same questions do not bear similar contents, it is impossible to separate salaries and bonuses of the officials. Therefore, we present sum of salaries and bonuses disbursed to Municipal Council members from September 2014 through February 2016. 

Municipality

Remuneration

Bonus

Total

Batumi

1010216,46

590263

1600479,46

Kobuleti

542040

222945

764985

Khelvachauri

481735,62

283350

765085,62

Keda

425294.35

152600

577894.35

Khulo

Cannot be tracked

Cannot be tracked

687692,17

Shuakhevi

481929

182531

664460

 

 

 

SUM: 5 060 596,6

As the survey results depict, substantial funds are allocated from the municipal budget each year for remuneration of the faction chairmen. In addition to salaries, bonuses and supplements, in some municipalities chairmen of factions have vehicles registered on the municipality’s balance at their disposal; they have limits assigned for fuel and phone expenses.

Under the current law, there are no restrictions imposed on the maximum number of Council factions. A faction’s establishment and rule of operations, its authority and powers are determined by the bylaws of the Municipal Council, which in most cases tend to be of general nature and do not impose specific obligations for chairman of the faction and its members.

It is important that activities of a faction be of some benefit to the local self-government; they should be focused on improving the municipal performance, increasing availability and quality of municipal services; activities of the faction and its chairman should be in full compliance with the spending from the local municipal budget.

 

Author: TI Georgia