By Liza Mchedlidze
Monday, October 24, 2022
President of Georgia Salome Zourbichvili opened the international conference of the Local Self-Government Platform of Georgia “Effectiveness and Challenges of Local Self-Government in Georgia” and addressed the Polish, American, Canadian guests and Israelis.
“The question of autonomy is one of the crucial questions of our future. If we want democracy, Europeanism and a strong state, we need strong regions – there will not be strong regions and there there will be no strong state, a strong Georgia!” said the President in her speech.
According to him, for the region to be strong, autonomy must be real, put into practice and not remain only as a good legal and strategic framework.
“The question of autonomy is one of the crucial questions for our future. If we want democracy, Europeanism and a strong state, we need strong regions. This is a situation we cannot escape. There will be no strong regions and no strong state, strong Georgia! Greater attention to regions – this has been one of my top priorities since day one, but attention alone is not enough .
For the region to be strong, autonomy must be real, put into practice, and not just a good legal framework and a good strategy. Much has been done in this direction, but above all, the region should be autonomous in practice, the municipality should be autonomous, which requires several preconditions, but if we do not do this, we cannot return to our tradition arrangement .
Georgia was strong when the autonomous units (then it was not called autonomous) were strong and together. This unity, this self-government and their independence is our niche. This arrangement of our state was broken by the Soviet system, it moved us to an ultra-centralized system and thus destroyed what was the foundation of our strength, to which we must return. We have the first guidelines for this: we have adopted the “Autonomy Code”.
However, not everything is done yet; We have adopted a decentralization strategy, which must be implemented in three main directions – everything begins and ends with finance, if there is no new distribution of income, there will also be no of self-government because it will not have the resources to implement its own decisions. We must therefore go further in this direction.
Secondly, there is the issue of the transfer of ownership to local authorities, which is also enshrined in the new code but which is not yet fully implemented, and which is one of the foundations of strength and new opportunities municipalities.
And thirdly, there is the question of the involvement of citizens in the process of decision-making and budget allocation, which is also very important. This practice has already been introduced in several municipalities. In some places on a very small scale, in others a little more seriously, but this still only concerns projects such as squares, sculptures, etc. It is not the full involvement of the citizen in the processes that has become a true partner in self-government. The steps to be taken in this direction require everyone’s involvement. So there is a lot to do,” the president said.
The platform is organized by the Georgia branch of the Solidarity Fund PL (SFPL) and the Association of Financiers of Local Self-Governing Units of Georgia (GFA).
Representatives of Georgia’s Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Development took part in the event.
Conference participants discussed best strategies for effective management of local issues and international best practices.
The main task of the platform is to assign priority strategies to local self-government bodies in Georgia, which will enable them to better serve their citizens, improve sustainability and better guide the collective vision of self-government local in Georgia. In addition, the platform aims to transfer financial and budgetary POSs to local autonomous units.