Report on Activities of the Council of the Self-Governing City of Batumi Municipality - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო
GEO

Report on Activities of the Council of the Self-Governing City of Batumi Municipality

05 August, 2020

 

Transparency International Georgia examined the activities of Batumi City Council of the 2017 convocation covering the period between November 2017 and 31 December 2019 (hereinafter reporting/research period).

The report contains information about the following directions of the work of the Council:

  • Important legal acts passed;
  • Exercising the oversight role;
  • Work of commissions, boards and factions;
  • City Council officials’ connections with business and activities incompatible with office;
  • Citizen participation and accountability;
  • Activities of the Gender Equality Council;
  • Expenses of the City Council.

The report also includes the main findings and recommendations which, if considered, would help the City Council formed as a result of the 2021 local self-government elections in its future activities.

The report is based on the information requested from the City Council, observations by Transparency International Georgia and media reports.

Main Findings

Positive trends in Batumi Municipality City Council of the 2017 Convocation:

  • None of the sessions of Batumi City Council were thwarted: in 2017, the City Council held the total of 37 sessions, including 13 extraordinary sessions;
  • The City Council Bureau held 62 sessions;
  • The system of electronic petitions was introduced in Batumi Municipality. Also, in July 2018, Batumi City Council reduced the 1 percent threshold, giving 0.5 percent of the voters the right to submit a petition. This is likely to have a positive effect on citizen participation and increase the number of petitions submitted;
  • During the reporting period, eight petitions were registered by Batumi City Council;
  • During the reporting period, all 37 sessions of Batumi Municipality City Council were announced in accordance with the requirements of the law.

Legal acts:

  • In 2017-2019, Batumi City Council passed 119 resolutions. The legislative oversight body issued three legal conclusions and 24 recommendations and received three advisory conclusions in response to the Council’s consultation requests;
  • In 2017-2019, the City Council commissions presented 37 legal acts for discussion at the City Council sessions; 52 conclusions were prepared on the compliance of draft legal acts to be considered by the City Council with the legislation;
  • The factions in the City Council initiated the total of 12 legal acts; the City Council approved six of them and made negative decisions on five; one is still under discussion. It is important to note that the City Council approved all initiatives submitted by the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia faction and rejected all initiatives submitted by the United National Movement faction;
  • During the research period, on the nomination by the mayor of the municipality, Batumi City Council issued consent on signing an agreement on behalf of the Municipality three times;
  • On nomination by the Batumi mayor, the resolution No 37 dated 11 April 2018 defined the rules of procedure for the management and use of municipal property. Batumi City Council made two decisions on the transfer of property to the state free of charge and 20 such decisions on the transfer of property to the Autonomous Republic of Adjara;
  • During the reporting period, Batumi City Council approved the city mayor’s decision on the establishment of four and on the dissolution of five legal persons.

Exercising oversight:

  • During the research period, the City Council held only one hearing of the activity report by the city mayor. Specifically, on 1 March 2018, Batumi Mayor Lasha Komakhidze presented an activity report covering 100 days; the hearing was held at the session hall of the City Council, the audience included member of Batumi City Council, members of the Supreme Council of Adjara and the Parliament of Georgia, representatives of the non-governmental sector and members of the public;
  • The mayor and one other official took questions from 13 members of the City Council;
  • In 2017, representatives of the City Hall attended four extraordinary sessions; in 2018 – three extraordinary and 12 regular sessions; in 2019 – five extraordinary and seven regular sessions;
  • During the reporting period, the corrected projections of the local budget income was set at GEL 503,509,822, while the actual income amounted to GEL 471,497,036. In addition, the budget liabilities according to the corrected projections amounted to GEL 519,235,803, while the amount of actual payments was GEL 448,838,684.
  • Members of the City Council made the total of 61 remarks/recommendations concerning the 2018 budget of the City of Batumi and 50 with regard to the 2019 budget. Amendments to the approved budget were discussed once in 2017, five times in 2018 and six times in 2019;
  • During the reporting period, Batumi City Council did not engage an independent auditor;
  • In 2018-2019, the City Council did not support nine issues presented by the Batumi mayor; the City Council did not set up advisory bodies to examine individual issues and elaborate corresponding conclusions and recommendations in 2017-2019;
  • On the City Council’s initiative, 53 issues were discussed; a decision is yet to be reached on one issue;
  • Members of the City Council had legitimate excuse for each time they missed a session of the Council, its Bureau and Commissions: 41 business trips in 2018 and 89 business trips in 2019;
  • The City Council Rule of Procedure does not regulate absenteeism with or without the provision of a legitimate excuse, which is why no record is kept of absenteeism with the provision of a legitimate excuse.

Connections with business, undeclared assets, activities incompatible with office:

  • A problematic issue in Batumi City Council is the submission of incomplete asset declarations by officials – Transparency International Georgia identified six such cases in 2018 and four in 2019.

Expenses of Batumi Municipality City Council:

  • Salaries and bonuses paid by Batumi City Council during the reporting period amounted to over GEL 3,000,000;
  • The total of GEL 477,081 was spent from the City Council budget on bonuses and salary supplements without any substantiation;
  • The amount of salaries that the City Council pays to non-staff employees is increasing: in 2017, GEL 171,721 was spent to this end compared to GEL 195,828 in 2018;
  • In 2017-2019, Batumi City Council spent the total of GEL 80,898 on domestic and international business trips of its employees;
  • Starting from 2017 and until December 2019, the City Council spent the total of GEL 128,969 on fuel for the transportation of its officials.

Gender Equality Council of Batumi Municipality City Council:

  • The Gender Equality Council of Batumi Municipality City Council developed a 2019-2020 action plan, however, the Gender Equality Council is passive – it does not respond to problematic issues that take place on the territory of the municipality and involve gender inequality and gender-based discrimination;
  • The Gender Equality Council did not present an activity report to the City Council. Furthermore, it did not develop proposals and recommendations to be presented to the Gender Equality Councils of either the Supreme Council of Adjara or the Parliament of Georgia;
  • During the reporting period, the Gender Equality Council of Batumi Municipality City Council conducted legal analysis of five legal acts in total.
print