Over 120 representatives of the central and local authorities of Georgia gathered in Tbilisi on 7 December 2018 to discuss the achievements and challenges of the ongoing local self-governance reform. This largest forum for an institutional dialogue between the central authorities and local self-governance bodies brought together elected mayors and heads of local councils from all regions Georgia, as well as representatives of the Government, civil society and international organizations.
The forum was opened by Zaza Gabunia, Chairperson of the Regional Policy and Self-Government Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, followed by welcome remarks from Mamuka Bakhtadze, Prime Minister of Georgia; Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia; Maia Tskitishvili, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia; Kakha Kaladze, Mayor of Tbilisi; Carl Hartzell, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia; Adam Schmidt, USAID Acting Mission Director and Gigi Bregadze, Democratic Governance Team Leader, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The local self-governance reform is an ambitious plan of Georgian authorities aiming to increase decision-making powers and financial resources of the local self-governments, empowering them to better address the needs of citizens. A vision of the reform was presented by the Government and Parliament of Georgia in March 2018 pledging to increase a consolidated resource of municipalities to 7-8% of GDP by 2025.
The Forum of the Central and Local Authorities’ Institutional Dialogue was launched shortly after the reform was set in motion to enable a constructive discussion on some key issues of local self-governance in Georgia. The Forum is composed of the mayors and heads of local councils of all 64 municipalities as well as 9 regional governors and representatives of the central government of Georgia.
The Forum was established at the initiative of the Parliament of Georgia with support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI), World Vision and the governments of Denmark, Austria and Switzerland.