The Bureau of the Parliament of Georgia has supported enactment of the procedure for an expedited review of the bill on amendments to the Code of Georgia on Spatial Planning, Architectural and Construction Activities (despite the fact that the initiator – the Government of Georgia – does not request an expedited review of the bill in the explanatory note).
Acceleration of the process precluded an in-depth analysis of all consequences of proposed changes, which procedure is a requirement following to urban planning issues due to specificity of proposed changes and the field. Besides, specialists of the field, activists, and environmentalists were not involved in the process of drafting of intended changes, neither were they consulted about necessity of elaboration of changes and goals of the Government in case these changes become law.
Beyond minor technical and terminological improvements, proposed changes grant unsubstantiated privileges, such as allow individuals to exercise public authorities; let them benefit from development of settlements, municipalities and territories; give them opportunity to develop unused territory, so called “Greenfield”, and create space for implementation of investment projects by neglecting public interests.
Proposed legislative initiative introduces a definition of large investment project. This project is the one having value defined by a legal act of the Government, implementer of which is granted a number of privileges. According to the intended amendment, criteria for the concept of large investment project are so broad, general and vague that they make it possible to qualify a business project of a non-residential function with any form, content and type as such a project.
Listed criteria fail to determine in advance which project is going to be considered by the Government as a large investment project, as well as to create mechanisms for participation of public in this decision-making process, transparency of the decision, exclusion of corruption and non-objective decision-making. By applying proposed changes into practice, it will be possible to exempt any investor, acceptable to the Government, from regulations, from restriction to protect public interests, including in the process of implementation of a project that is completely unacceptable for society and contradicts public interests. Besides, intended changes reduce time required to review subject and relieve certain category buildings of obligations related to resistance and safety of construction.
Following to all the above, we, the signatory organizations, release a detailed appraisal of the submitted bill and consider that turning the bill into law may cause irreversible damage to the environment of the country, health and life of people, development opportunities for settlements and municipalities, as well as severely harm public interests
Open Society Georgia Foundation
Urban Research Center
Dighomi Meadows Neighborhood Community
Partisan Gardening, Tbilisi
Initiative Group for Fine Arts Museum
Social Justice Center
Young Lawyers’ Association
Batumi Branch of the Civil Society Institute
Hippodrome Protection Initiative Group