Assessment of the activities of the majority MPs’ bureaus (Updated data)
Transparency International Georgia continues to scrutinize the activities of the bureaus of the AAR majority candidates elected to the Parliament of Georgia.
TI Georgia has conducted a survey and released the information on its findings on 19 December, 2013. In this case, TI Georgia carried out new research that resulted in additional information on issues such as: costs incurred by MPs’ bureaus, new employees, legislative initiatives, and updated the survey findings accordingly.
Although the Bureaus of the majority MPs were able to identify the problems persisting in the region during a year and a half of their operation, not one of them has submitted to Parliament a legislative initiative or amendments over that period to resolve the issues.
Only Murman Dumbadze, the majority MP from Batumi, proposed legislative changes in 2012 concerning the conversion of Adjara television into a legal entity of public law.
Batumi – Murman Dumbadze’s Bureau
The Bureau of this MP from Batumi who represents Georgian Dream in Parliament currently employs four people. In 2013, it consisted of three employees with total salary expenses amounting to GEL 33,520. The same expenses covering the period from January to April 2014 consisted of GEL 13,81. Fuel and other costs in 2013 amounted to GEL 13,000, whereas in 2014 (from January to April) the relevant sum reached GEL 8,000.
From November 2012 to December 2013, about 550 persons contacted the Bureau in writing for help and advice, during the period from December 2013 through April 2014, the Bureau received 100 additional applications. In addition, from 2012 through April 2014, around 7000 Citizens addressed the Bureau in oral form.
In regards to legislative initiatives, Murman Dumbade has not submitted to Parliament any new legislative initiatives from the period between December 2013 and April 2014. As for the old initiatives, one initiative dealt with converting the public television into a legal entity of public law, which was carried out. The second initiative pertaining to resolving the problems of eco migrants, as of now, has not been submitted to the legislative body. Remarkably, Mr. Dumbadze was working on this issue during 2013 and it is unclear why he is delaying the submission of this initiative to Parliament, which is particularly critical for the region.
It should be noted that Dumbadze’s Bureau was the first to respond to our FOI request, in comparison to other Bureaus. However, even though the Bureau response was rather full and prompt, it failed to provide us with the copies of the MP’s petitions to the local government or the autonomous republic leadership with requests to resolve particular problems.
The Bureau of Rostom Khalvashi, a majority MP from Khelvachauri, only has two employees whose monthly salary expenses amount to a total of GEL 3,000. A point of significance is that each of the bureaus is allocated monthly funding of GEL 5,000, from which the Parliament Office pursues the following at the MP’s request : procurement of essential means for the maintenance of the Bureau, and reimbursement of the rental of the office space and staff salaries (Parliament Rules of Procedure, subparagraph 2 of Article 19).
The letter received from Rostom Khalvashi’s Bureau stipulates that the employees have a ceiling amount of GEL 30 for fuel expenses and GEL 45 for phone conversations.
From December 2013 through April 2014, only a total of 17 citizens applied in writing to Rostom Khalvashi’s Bureau, while 721 persons addressed him in oral form. Applications for the most part concerned such issues as: rendering economic assistance, evacuating residents from the landslide zone, and requesting land allocation. The latter issue became the subject of Rostom Khalvashi’s legislative proposal on which the MP has been working for the last two years.
Khulo – Anzor bolkvadze’s Bureau
The Bureau of the majority MP Anzor Bolkvadze engages 5 employees whose monthly salaries amount to a total of GEL 1,930. An additional, GEL 17,000 is spent annually on fuel and telecommunications needs. Over the reporting period, the Bureau was contacted by 12 people in writing and by 38 people in oral form. The citizens’ requests predominantly concerned evacuation from the landslide zone, covering medical expenses, employment, and aid in receiving compensations due to power plant constructions.
Anzor Bolkvadze has not submitted to Parliament any legislative initiative or amendment.
Keda – Yasha Shervashidze’s Bureau
The Bureau of the majority MP from Keda, Yasha Shervashidze, employs 5 people whose monthly salary expenses make up a total of GEL 1,650. The information provided by the Bureau does not specify telecommunications and fuel costs; it only indicates that the noted resource is used to organize the MP’s meetings with the residents. The bureau received 69 written applications during the period from October 2012 through April 2014. We have no information from the Bureau regarding the contents of the applications and the citizens’ needs and concerns described in them.
Yasha Shervashidze has not submitted to Parliament any legislative initiative over the reporting period.
The Bureau of Shuakhevis MP Omar Megrelidze employs 4 people; the sum allocated to the Bureau from the Parliament budget is distributed as follows: a total of GEL 3,300 for the monthly salaries, GEL 800 monthly limit on fuel expenses for the office’s two vehicles, and GEL 80 for the Internet and telephone communications expenses. From 1 October 2012 through April 2014, the Bureau received a total of 27 written applications and 243 people applied in oral form. Like the majority of his colleagues, Omar Megrelidze has not submitted to Parliament any legislative initiative.
Kobuleti – Pati khalvashi’s Bureau
The Bureau of the majority MP and Georgian Dream representative from Kobuleti, Pati Khalvashi, was the last to respond to TI Georgia’s FOI request; what is more, the answer provided from this Bureau was mostly incomplete. It does not stipulate the amount allocated for the salaries of 4 people the Bureau employs. What we could find is that the Bureau spends GEL 14,256 on fuel and GEL 3,000 on telecommunications needs annually.
Over the reporting period, Pati Khalvashi’s Bureau was addressed by 100 citizens in writing and by over 1500 persons in oral form. As evidenced by the letters, the Bureau has referred 107 petitions to Kobuleti Municipality and 23 petitions to AAR Government since its opening in April 2014. Similar to other Bureaus, Pati Khalvashi’s Bureau has not forwarded the copies of those petitions to us. At the same time, the obtained information demonstrates that Pati Kalvashi has not submitted to Parliament any legislative initiative.
Transparency International Georgia supports the Bureaus activities to organize frequent meetings with citizens as a good way to identify problems. Nevertheless, we would like to remind the MPs elected from Adjara Autonomous Republic that problems cannot be resolved exclusively through meetings - the mandates granted to them by the majority of the electorate oblige them to be constantly engaged in developing legislative initiatives and submitting draft laws and legislative amendments emanating from the needs and requirements of the voters as well as the desire on the part of the MPs to find ways of solving critical problems. At the same time, we would like to emphasize that the largely incomplete responses received from the Bureaus did not allow us to fully assess the above MPs’ activities. We therefore, urge the lawmakers to ensure that their bureaus comply with the FIO obligations with greater responsibility. One additional point meriting attention is that the Adjara majority MPs seldom use their platform in Parliament to make statements. Based on the TI Georgia Report released on 24 April 2014, over the period from 21 October 2012 through 21 October inclusive, Murman Dumbadze spoke at the Parliament plenary session only once, Omar Megrelidze spoke twice, Pati kalvashi spoke three times, and Yasha Shervashidze, Omar Bolkvadze and Rostom Khalvashi had never used this opportunity.