Georgia to probe new parliament building

By bne IntelliNews November 1, 2012

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Firing an early shot in an anticipated campaign against officials of the former administration, newly appointed Georgian Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri has called for an investigation into the construction of the GEL340m ($205m) parliament building in Kutaisi.

The parliament and other government offices were built in Kutaisi as part of President Mikheil Saakashvili's plan to relocate the government from Tbilisi to Georgia's second-largest city. Khaduri, who was appointed by new Prime Minister Bizdina Ivanishvili after the Georgian Dream coalition won the October 2012 parliamentary elections, said the parliament building is an example of projects launched by the local and national government under the previous regime, and that in many cases costs could have been inflated.

The move appears an early step in an anticipated series of attacks on the previous administration, which was often accused of riding roughshod over rights. A parliamentary committee charged with investigating past misdeeds is set to be created, Tina Khidasheli, a lawmaker from the coalition, announced on October 21 as the first session of the new parliament opened amid an acrimonious atmosphere.

Another coalition leader, and newly elected parliamentary speaker, Davit Usupashvili told journalists the same day that members of parliament who had committed crimes can expect to be punished. "We don't want to act as per our mood or views. All issues should be legally grounded," he said, before warning "[w]e are not going to forget what had happened before October 1."

"The new Parliament building in Kutaisi, which cost over GEL340m... is actually useless for work," Khaduri said, according to Civil.ge. "We should study how much construction of this building actually cost and why it is of so poor quality while so much money has been paid."

On coming to power after the October 1 elections, Ivanishvili announced that the parliament would be moved back to Tbilisi, although the opening session took place at the new building in Kutaisi.

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