‘Do you really want to stir up a revolution?’
05 May, 2011
‘Do you really want to stir up a revolution?’

Member of Majority against Majority


Akaki Bobokhidze, representative of Parliamentary Majority, Chair of the Parliamentary Environmental Committee unleashed a rather categorical onslaught against the Government. He said he would not support new method of regulating forestry, explaining that the new move of the Government would encroach on the interests of ordinary people.
The problem relates to the draft legislation initiated by the Government to introduce new vision on utilization of forests. It envisages new maximum period for the forest utilization

license. It will be given for up to 49 years, more than the currently allowed ceiling. Penalties for the utilization of forests without licenses will become stricter, double the current rates. Similar tightening will apply to the wood industry. Agency of Natural Resources will issue special tags with unique numbers registered in the electronic database. Transportation, processing and trade of wood material will be illegal without such tags. In addition, wood processing factories will be allowed to accept only duly tagged timber.
By the first look, it seems to be a normal draft law. The Government argues that it will prevent illegal logging. Indeed, it’s a sound reasoning. Yet, it turns out the Governmental decision does not stop here and aims to derail unlicensed logging by all means. This was exactly the subject of fierce debates during the meeting in the Parliamentary Environmental Committee. During the submission of the draft legislation, Akaki Bobokhidze, Chair of the Committee, tried to find out how regular farmers would deal with routine problems arising from the planned prohibition of unlicensed logging and processing, as they would not afford tags. Bobokhidze noted that in the countryside people need not only wood but material for various purposes and that they could not get such huge sums for it. Bobokhidze says locals would be left with nothing.
In the same way, small enterprises manufacturing furniture and other minor wooden products would also encounter problems because of low material requirement and accordingly low interest of big license owners to have business with them due to this low material demand.
“For me, the State is a person, not the budget to get salaries. The function of the State is not only to control and make budgets. If a man cannot survive in a state then why have such a state at all? I don’t know. Perhaps do you really want to stage revolution? Invent a mechanism to help these people keep breathing,” – said Akaki Bobokhidze. Furthermore, Bobokhidze decries increase in the license length to 49 years, calling this change as “not quite sensible”. According to the Governmental explanation, this prolongation is seen as a tool to attract investments. In this case, the Governmental argument makes sense. As Nino Enukidze, Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources explains, as the forests cannot be restored for years, future investors would have to take care of forest renewal in parallel to the main forest utilization activities. Finally, Enukidze states that a serious investor would agree to invest only if the forest land is given for a long period of use.

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