TI Georgia welcomes government's decision to consult on IDP housing, calls for deadline extension - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

TI Georgia welcomes government's decision to consult on IDP housing, calls for deadline extension

16 February, 2010
Tbilisi, 15 April 2009 – Transparency International Georgia today welcomed the decision by the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation (MRA) to open its Draft Action Plan for Implementation of State Strategy for IDPs to public discussion and consultation. The final Action Plan, which is expected to be adopted by the government in the near future, aims to guide the provision of durable housing to approximately 200,000 displaced people in Georgia between now and 2012, at a total estimated cost of nearly 1.6 billion GEL (around one billion dollars). Nearly 100,000 Georgians displaced by conflicts in the early 1990s still “live in miserable conditions” in 1,600 collective centers across Georgia, according to the draft action plan. “The MRA’s decision to invite consultation on this draft is a large step towards making aid more accountable towards Georgian society,” said Ms. Tamuna Karosanidze, Executive Director of Transparency International Georgia. “Key decisions with major consequences will be taken over the next few weeks. The MRA should be applauded for seeking the input of those concerned.” The Draft Action Plan envisages the construction of new apartment blocks to house 84,900 people and of individual houses for 11,150 people. The ministry also plans to renovate existing collective centers to provide durable housing to 60,000 displaced people, who will then be given ownership of the properties. Nearly 45,000 people are projected to benefit from one-off financial assistance or housing vouchers. While the MRA’s efforts to seek consultation are a very positive sign, TI Georgia is concerned that the timeframe for consultation is too tight and calls for an extension of the deadline. The draft Action Plan was released on April 14 and feedback is requested within one week, during which there is a major Georgian holiday. “This is simply not enough time,” said Ms. Karosanidze. “These decisions will affect the lives of 223,000 Georgians for years to come, and involve huge sums of taxpayers’ money. It will be impossible for all interested parties to provide meaningful feedback within just three working days, especially as there are still significant gaps in the information about this process within the public realm.” Ms. Karosanidze noted that two recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests directed at the MRA by TI Georgia have gone unanswered, despite the ministry’s obligation to provide a reply within ten days under Georgian freedom of information legislation. “All stakeholders in this process need more comprehensive information, and more time for thought and debate,” Ms. Karosanidze warned. “Transparency International Georgia wants to work with the ministry to ensure that the affected citizens can make informed choices about their own future, and that clear and transparent minimum standards for accommodation are established. The MRA should extend the consultation deadline so that its good intentions can be realized in practice.”