TBILISI, DFWatch — The prosecutor’s office is considering to investigate the mayor of Tbilisi who feels offended that he wasn’t allowed to attend the government session on Friday, even though he didn’t have a right to attend.
Georgia’s finance minister Friday asked the prosecutor’s office to study the incident. The Tbilisi mayor is the only mayor in the country that has been elected.
It all started when a program of social allowances was suspended. The former prime minister decided to transfer the financing of Tbilisi’s social programs to the health ministry, while no amendments were made to the budget law and no money was allocated for the health ministry to finance those programs. This happened a week before the new government was confirmed.
That’s why Tbilisi city hall stopped financing every social program which it used to finance. The health ministry isn’t able to finance them. Accordingly, may people got in difficult situation.
The finance minister says that it was requested by Tbilisi city hall to ask former prime minister Vano Merabishvili.
Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri says that no money was set aside in the budget for such programs; accordingly the money cannot be spent by the state. The budget can only be changed by parliament on the grounds of a request from the government, which it has not done.
“This is an attempt to punish Tbilisians and we won’t give this right to anyone. From now on the prosecutor’s office will study why Tbilisi city hall has decided to punish Tbilisians,” Khaduri remarked.
He notes that the government demands to restore the status quo of October 12, when city hall made the decision.
“We do not plan to review anything. City hall should restore its own responsibilities and stop to meddle with the government.”
Irakli Abesadze, head of Tbilisi city hall’s judiciary service says the finance minister’s statement is a lie.
According to him, Tbilisi city council discussed this issue and made a final decision October 20, after the government the previous day decided to allocated money for social benefits from the budget.
“The regulation doesn’t violate any legal norm. Accordingly, the issue is subject of political speculation from the central government and there are no grounds to appeal to the prosecutor’s office.”
Before this statement, Mayor Gigi Ugulava decided to attend the government session on Friday. He stated there that he wanted to solve this issue and had brought proposals of his own to the meeting, but he was not allowed to stay at the session. He rated the decision as ‘the top of cynicism’ and he blamed the decision signed by the former prime minister on the new prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.
“Bidzina Ivanishvili today directly admitted that the first decree as prime minister, which applies to cancel advantages for Tbilisians, was his own decision. It was confirmed today that no finance minister, health or other bodies are engaged here and that this is a conscious decision of Bidzina Ivanishvili to give somebody a lesson,” Ugulava said, but he didn’t go into details about the grounds for his statement.
After the government session, the finance minister explained to journalists why Ugulava wasn’t allowed to stay. He says the Tbilisi mayor and other persons can only stay at the session when they have received an invitation.
“The Tbilisi mayor hadn’t been invited to the government session, that’s why the prime minister demanded that he leave.”
Khaduri added that the government doesn’t plan to review the issue which Ugulava wanted to review, as the mayor is obliged to abolish his own decision.
Later, city hall demanded to publish a video of the exchange between the mayor and the prime minister, which was immediately posted on the official webpage of Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Can you imagine that the Head of government and new ministers are holding a meeting and in walks the Mayor of …say San Francisco, or Chicago…and demands that they all listen to his issues? A Mayor is like everyone else and should respect protocols!