At the 21 February 2014 Parliamentary session, Member of the Parliamentary Majority, Gogi Topadze, stated: “We are violating the law by being in this building [the Parliament building in Kutaisi] today. This building has not been readied for occupancy whatsoever. It has not passed through all of the procedures that a finished construction should have.”FactCheck
took interest in the abovementioned statement and checked its accuracy.
Resolution No. 57 of the Government of Georgia, dated 24 March 2009, regulates the procedures of issuing construction permits and permitting requirements. According to the Resolution, buildings are classified into five categories:
a) First category – buildings not requiring any construction permits
b) Second category – buildings of a low risk factor
c) Third category – buildings of an average risk factor
d) Fourth category – buildings of a high risk factor
e) Fifth category – buildings with an increased risk factor (buildings of particular importance) (Article 19, Paragraph 1).
The building of the Parliament of Georgia in Kutaisi belongs to the fifth category.
According to the aforementioned Resolution, the right to issue construction permits, as well as the state supervision of the construction for buildings of the fifth category, belong to the state agency responsible for construction policy in Georgia (Article 28, Paragraph 2). In particular, the Technical and Constructions Supervision Agency (the former Technical and Constructions Inspectorate) under the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia is responsible for the aforementioned procedures. The Agency supervises the objects containing increased technical threats and issues construction permits for the construction of particularly important objects. The supervision is realised in two ways; that is, by issuing a construction permit as well as controlling the fulfilment of the permitting requirements and recurring inspections.
There are several stages for issuing construction permits for particularly important objects:
First stage: Approvaof the conditions for the usage of the land for construction purposes (architectural-planning assignment)
Second stage: Project agreement
Third stage: Issuance of the construction permitTherefore, the new building of the Parliament should have covered all three of the abovementioned stages and received a permit from the Technical and Constructions Supervision Agency. Afterwards, the same Agency was required to inspect the building and declare it ready for occupancy.
According to the Resolution, the owner of a construction permit of the fifth category is obliged to submit the building to the respective authority for inspection of occupancy readiness within the period of one year after the permit’s expiration date (Article 82).
Additionally, the decision about declaring a building of the fifth category as ready for occupancy should be made in 30 days from the submission of the relevant documentation. Provided the respective administrative decree is not issued within the abovementioned dates, the building will be declared ready for occupancy and the respective authority will be obliged to provide the necessary administrative decree to the construction company about the occupancy readiness of the building (Article 97, Paragraph 3).
In its audit report on acquiring the respective funds for constructing the Parliament building, spending the funding efficiently as well as the legitimacy of the construction, the online news portal www.netgazeti.ge reported the Kutaisi Parliament building to be constructed without any respective construction permits. In addition, the report underlines the necessary expert evaluation required by buildings of the fifth category which was also not conducted: expert evaluation of the construction base, foundation and other major building components; expert evaluation within an engineering-geological survey and an expert evaluation of the technological elements of project documents (Source: www.netgazeti.ge).FactCheck
addressed the Technical and Constructions Supervision Agency (LEPL) with the following questions:
- Was a construction permit issued by the Agency for the construction of the Parliament building in Kutaisi (Kutaisi, 26 Abashidze Street)?
- Has the Technical and Constructions Supervision Agency declared the readiness for occupancy of the Parliament building and what period was determined for the making of this occupancy readiness declaration (26 Abashidze Street)?
Based upon the response received from the Technical and Constructions Supervision Agency on 5 March, the construction permit for the Kutaisi Parliament building was issued on 28 November 2013. Of note is the fact that the Parliament building was officially opened and even had Parliamentary sessions being held there by that time.
Concerning the declaration of the readiness for occupancy of the building, the same letter reports that the “application about declaring the abovementioned building ready for occupancy was submitted. The time period defined for the making of this declaration has not yet passed and the Agency is discussing the respective documentation.” By 31 March there was no administrative decree or legal act about the occupancy readiness of the Parliament building; however, the Agency representative stated that the Parliament building should have been declared ready for occupancy by that time.In order to obtain more information, FactCheck
looked deeper into the documentation that served as the basis for the issuing of the construction permit for the Parliament building (Construction Permit No. 102/01-06, dated 28 November 2013, and other relevant documents concerning the abovementioned issue).
As it turned out, on 19 November 2013, the State Service Bureau Ltd. submitted the construction project of the Georgian Parliament complex to the Technical and Constructions Supervision Agency (LEPL). The costs for the construction of the complex comprised GEL 318,408,481.24 (excluding furniture costs). The submitted documentation included:
- The payment receipt of the construction permit fee (GEL 55,848)
- The project documentation elaborated by the Spanish company CMD DOMINGO Y LAZARO INGENIEROS
- The survey drawings displaying the factual situation
- The expert evaluations prepared by the Levan Samkharauli National Forensics Bureau (LEPL)
- The registration document from the National Agency of Public Registry and the cadastral map
Based upon the aforementioned documents, it became obvious that the State Service Bureau Ltd. was fined GEL 27,000 for starting the construction without any construction permits. The State Service Bureau Ltd. is the organisation responsible for the construction of the Parliament building in Kutaisi and was funded by the cost share of 100% by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.
The expert evaluation provided by the Levan Samkharauli National Forensics Bureau contains the respective comments and remarks concerning the Parliament building; however, it also reports that the “project corresponds to the sustainability and firmness requirements.”
The research revealed that the construction permit for the Parliament building in Kutaisi was issued by the respective agency on 28 November 2013. By this time the building was officially opened and even had Parliamentary sessions being held there. The State Service Bureau Ltd. had to pay a fine of GEL 27,000 for starting construction without the relevant construction permit.
It is worthy of note that there was no relevant administrative decree about declaring the Parliament building ready for occupancy by 31 March 2013. Nevertheless, the representative of the abovementioned agency reported that the building should have been declared ready for occupancy by that time.
As the information revealed, the construction permit was issued by the Agency after the construction was finished. Gogi Topadze is right when saying that the Parliament building was not declared occupancy ready (by the time he made this statement).Therefore, Gogi Topadze’s statement: “We are violating the law by being in this building [the Parliament building in Kutaisi] today. This building has not been readied for occupancy whatsoever. It has not passed through all of the procedures that a finished construction should have,” is TRUE.