TBILISI, DFWatch–The government has announced a USD 3 million tender for the rehabilitation reconstruction of the old parliament building in Tbilisi.
On Mikheil Saakashvili’s initiative, a new parliament was built in Kutaisi, the second largest city in the country. But the building was opened before it even was completed and MPs witnessed various damages like leakage of rain water and problems with the ventilation.
The construction of the new parliament building was also beset with misfortune and resulted in the death of one worker, and a mother and daughter died in an demolition accident in 2009 at the start of construction work.
After the opening of the new parliament, Georgian Dream said the old building had been destroyed inside and needed rehabilitation. The coalition had it as part of its election program to move parliament back to Tbilisi.
But such a move requires a constitutional amendment, which the coalition can not make on its own because it does not control a two third majority in parliament.
Constitutional amendments need at least 100 votes to be passed. Georgian Dream has 85 seats out of 150. Three seats are vacant after their occupants were appointed ministers, and will be filled in by-elections in April.
The ruling coalition recently experienced that it needs support from the National Movement to get constitutional amendments passed in parliament. A few weeks ago, parliament finally confirmed a first constitutional amendment which reduces the power of the president. The agreement took months of negotiations to achieve.
But UNM’s members as well as its leader Mikheil Saakashvili are strongly against moving parliament back to Tbilisi. They think having it in Kutaisi contributes to the country’s decentralization. But the coalition and the government claim that parliament needs to be closer to where the government is, and MPs shouldn’t waste four hours on the road, as well as travel expenses.
Although there has so far not been talk about amending the constitution, the government has nonetheless started preparing for parliament being moved back to the capital.
The tender for refurbishment work on the old building of parliament will be open for one month, Shota Goshadze, head of parliament’s apparatus told IPN, and the winner company will then have 150 days to fix the major halls of the old building.