GEO

Municipal Council Factions of Samegrelo – Zemo Svaneti

21 April, 2016

 

According to the Georgian Local Government Code, at least three members are required to form a faction inside a municipal council.

A faction is a group of municipal council members united under a common political platform, the activities of which are regulated by the Local Government Code, and Rules of Procedure and Charter of a municipal council. The main purpose of a faction is to empower its members to be more effective in exercising their authority of initiating various issues in the municipal council, nominating public officials or committee chairpersons, studying the activities of municipal services, and etc.

Transparency International (TI) Georgia decided to look into how many factions have been formed in municipal councils of Samegrelo – Zemo Saneti after the 2014 local government elections, as well as when they were formed, and what issues they initiated for consideration since their registration.

According to public information, a total of 66 factions have been formed in 10 municipalities of Samegrelo – Zemo Svaneti, out of which 57 were registered in 2014, and 9 in 2015:

The information on factions presented below covers the period from their registration until January 2016.

  • As of January 2016, factions formed in Senaki, Mestia, Tsalenjikha, Khobi, Abasha, and Chkhorotsku municipal councils have not initiated any issues since their registration.
  • The Georgian Dream Faction of Poti City Council initiated a single issue (on analyzing the activities of Poti City Hall’s Construction, Infrastructure, Transport, Landscaping, Urban Development, Architecture, and Administrative Oversight Departments, and creating a working group to study infrastructural problems of the city).
  • The following factions of Martvili Municipal Council: Freedom, United National Movement, and Christian-Democrats, jointly initiated a single issue aimed at introducing regulations for reimbursement of expenses incurred by council members (except for members with a status of public official) while carrying out their official duties.
  • The Georgian Dream - Free Democrats Faction of Zugdidi (Community) Municipal Council initiated a single issue requesting the process of forming too many divisions inside municipal administration departments be brought under control.
  • All factions inside Zugdidi City Council initiated at least one issue. More information on this is presented in the table below:

Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia

29 issues

Georgian Dream - Republicans

11 issues

United National Movement

31 issues

For Zugdidi’s Future (former Georgian Dream-Democrats, and the Conservative Party)

11 issues

 

According to the Local Government Code, municipal council members carry out their duties free of charge. Only the following public officials receive salaries: municipal council chairperson and deputy chairperson, chairperson of a municipal council commission, and faction chairperson. Faction chairpersons receive a monthly salary of GEL 1,350-1,500 in some municipalities, and Gel 2,000 in Zugdidi and Poti City Councils.

From May 2014 until February 2016 a total of GEL 1,690,078.54 was spent on salaries of chairpersons of 66 factions in Samegrelo – Zemo Svaneti municipal councils, and GEL 331,600 on their bonuses and salary supplements.

Our research shows that a significant amount of municipal budget funds is being spent each year on salaries of faction chairpersons. In addition to salaries, bonuses and supplements, some municipalities also allow these public officials to use municipal vehicles, covering their fuel and telephone expenses.

Under current law, municipal councils do not have a limit on the number of factions they may contain. The rules for creating and running a faction as well as their powers are outlined in municipal council statutes, which are mostly general in nature, and do not set any special obligations for faction chairpersons or members.

Municipal council factions and their chairpersons must direct their efforts towards improving the quality of and access to municipal services, while their work should be brought into compliance with municipal budget spending.

Author: TI Georgia