Mayors and local elected officials discussed decentralisation strategies in Georgia regions
The National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG) in cooperation with the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia (MRDI), under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had organised consultation meetings with its member municipalities on the draft decentralisation strategy for 2019-2025 in regions of Georgia.
David Melua, Executive Director of NALAG, and Natya Ghvinashvili, deputy Executive Director, led those meetings to which mayors and local elected officials participated. Mzia Giorgibiani, the deputy minister of MRDI, Nikoloz Rosebashvili, the head of Department of local self-governance and policy of MRDI, also took part in those consultation meetings, and Kakha Gurgenidze, legal expert of NALAG, had taken part in the consultation meetings.
Mr Rosebashvili made a presentation on objectives, goals and activities of the new decentralisation strategy, as well as he informed participants on further steps for revision and modification of the draft strategy. This presentation had been followed by intense discussions where participants expressed their views and recommendations on the presented draft strategy.
The consultation meetings had form of public hearings and representatives of local CSOs as well as national NGO representatives and experts had privilege to participate in sessions in all regions of Georgia and they had been given possibility to present their opinion on the draft decentralisation strategy. Representatives of UNDP and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) had also attended some sessions of the consultation meetings.
The need for further decentralisation
Those consultation meetings highlighted several needs for further decentralisation, such as: to assign more power to municipalities, to implement fiscal decentralisation measures, to provide adequate resources to municipalities for implementation of delegated functions; to use easy procedures for registration of municipal property, to improve legislation in transport sector of economy.
As stated by the representatives of NALAG, “these consultation meetings aim at the realisation of interests of local governments in the new decentralisation strategy through active participation of local elected officials in dialogue between local and central authorities”.
“Many interesting issues and ideas were raised during these meetings. The association will elaborate recommendations for the finalisation of the decentralisation strategy based on opinions provided by municipalities during the consultation meetings. We will submit those recommendations to the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure in order to ensure that the final version of the National Strategy of Decentralization fully corresponds to the interests of Georgian municipalities,” stated Mr Melua.
Representatives of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia mentioned: “There were three working groups, they worked hard on draft strategy that is now presented for wider public consultations. These groups included representatives of NGOs, international organizations and local governments’ experts”.
“We accepted all opinions provided by these working groups during the process of elaboration of the first draft of the strategy, however we had pleasure to receive many interesting feedbacks from local officials during consultation meetings hence all these recommendations will also be enshrined in the final draft of the strategy. I would like to emphasise that one more round of consultation meetings in regions will be organised once we finalize the draft decentralisation strategy”, stated the deputy minister of MRDI.
Representatives of municipalities expressed gratitude to the organisers of the consultation meetings, having noted that further discussions of the document will guarantee the relevance of the new decentralisation strategy to the needs of Georgian municipalities.
The consultation meetings on the draft decentralisation strategy started on 16 January 2019 and took place in the cites of Batumi, Ozurgeti, Zugdidi, Kutaisi, Ambrolauri, Mtskheta, Rustavi, Telavi, Gori and Akhaltsikhe.