Assessing Rehabilitation of Cultural Heritage Monuments in Tbilisi and Transparency of Tbilisi Development Fund

Assessing Rehabilitation of Cultural Heritage Monuments in Tbilisi and Transparency of Tbilisi Development Fund

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) and Tiflis Hamkari, with the support from EWMI ACCESS, studied the practice of protecting cultural heritage monuments in Tbilisi and the operations of the responsible public agency. For this purpose, GYLA assessed transparency and accountability of the Tbilisi Development Fund while Tiflis Hamkari monitored the restoration works administered by the Fund in Gudiashvili and Orbeliani squares. Reports of both studies were presented to wider audiences on March 14.

Since its establishment, the Tbilisi Development Fund has received from its founders a total of GEL 370 278 546. The study conducted by GYLA revealed serious challenges with regard to accountability and transparency of Tbilisi Development Fund. In particular:

➡ Tbilisi Development Fund carried out 75% of all procurements through simplified state procurement. This form of procurement involves a high risk of corruption.
➡ Reports submitted by the Fund to its founders do not provide detailed information about completed works.
➡ By the order of Tbilisi municipal government, the Fund also finances projects that do not concern the protection of cultural heritage.
➡ Although the Fund spends large budget amounts, the State Audit Office has not conducted a state audit since the establishment of the Fund (2010).

Another study conducted by Tiflis Hamkari also revealed significant shortcomings. Apart from assessing ongoing rehabilitation works, the study provides an analysis of institutional, methodological and legal aspects of rehabilitation of cultural heritage monuments. The key findings include:

➡ Evaluation and supervision of archaeological layers and artefacts discovered in the process of rehabilitation of Gudiashvili Square are not carried out properly.
➡ Organizational structure of the Tbilisi municipal government lacks monument protection institutions (a special service, department, etc.) which would determine cultural heritage protection strategy and priorities.
➡ The staff of Tbilisi architecture service does not include restoration architect and engineer constructor who would review the restoration projects from the monument’s protection standpoint and issue corresponding conclusions on permits.
➡ Although required by the law, the Tbilisi Development Fund does not submit reports on archaeological, construction or/and rehabilitation works to the municipal government.
➡ There is neither a detailed urban regulation for the historical part of Tbilisi nor a detailed manual for restoration-rehabilitation and new constructions.
➡ The quality of restoration works in Gudiashvili Square is less problematic than that of Orbeliani Square because representatives of Tbilisi Development Fund do not allow experts to enter the site.

Both studies provide detailed recommendations that are in line with international standards. GYLA and Tiflis Hamkari, with the support from EWMI ACCESS, will further present and discuss the recommendations with relevant authorities. In the upcoming months GYLA will also roll out intensive information campaign to raise public awareness of cultural heritage monuments.

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