SUKHUM / AQW'A — The Committee on State-Legal Policy of the Abkhazian Parliament held a deliberation on the draft bill "On the Regulation of the Legal Status of Aparthotels and Apartments" on Wednesday, July 12. The meeting convened representatives from various political factions, public organisations, the Public Chamber, and state authorities.
Delegates reviewed submissions of proposals and amendments on the draft bill, primarily focusing on aparthotels, put forth by different political parties and public organisations. Daut Khutaba, the Chairman of the Committee, encouraged all attendees to engage in constructive dialogue, emphasising the importance of achieving a shared understanding of the bill.
"We aim to hear from as many representatives of public organisations as possible to allow the deputies to form an informed opinion prior to voting," Khutaba stated. He went on to add that two political parties and the Public Chamber have already submitted a number of proposals regarding the draft legislation.
Highlighting key positions, Khutaba noted, "The representatives of 'Aruaa' [1992-93 War Veteran civil organisation -ed.] and 'AND' (Abkhaz People's Movement) categorically reject the draft law in its current form. On the other hand, the 'Amtsakhara' and 'Aidgylara' parties, along with the Public Chamber, have presented specific amendments."
Among the notable suggestions was a call from the 'Amtsakhara' party to decrease the projected number of apartments from 30,000 to 21,000. Another proposal recommended concentrating development efforts on the eastern regions of the country, entailing zoning changes. Construction plans include building a minimum of two thousand apartments in the Gagra district, a maximum of five thousand in the Tquarchal district, and three thousand in each of the remaining districts.
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Kan Kvarchia, a Member of Parliament and the chairman of the 'Aidgylara' public organisation, advocated for returning the draft law to the Presidential Administration for further review. He particularly requested the removal of the term 'natural person' from its text. Kvarchia affirmed he would consider the revised proposal only after this amendment is made.
Tengiz Dzhopua, representing the Public Chamber, raised several concerns regarding the draft bill on aparthotels and apartments. Chief among them were potential demographic imbalances, a dearth of regulatory acts governing construction, an unclear distinction between foreign and national investments, and the potential for a sharp increase in real estate prices.
Timur Gulia, Chairman of the 'Aruaa', stressed that the draft law lacks sufficient justification and expert assessment. He warned that the planned construction of apartments could adversely affect small and medium-sized businesses in Abkhazia.
Astamur Arshba, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, highlighted that discussions surrounding the construction of aparthotels were not a recent development. He referred to a 2016 document outlining plans to build 30,000 apartments in the Gagra district alone. Arshba underscored the deputies' ongoing engagement with their constituents, expressing their awareness and understanding of public sentiments and concerns regarding the draft law. He pointed out that these issues were raised long ago by the country's highest leaders.
Dzhansukh Nanba, the head of the Presidential Administration, questioned the committee chairman about the selection criteria used to determine which political parties and organisations were invited to the meeting. He observed that there are numerous other organisations whose members should also be consulted on the aparthotel issue. In his address, Nanba emphasised that the draft law seeks to promote economic growth and develop the tourism industry in the country.
"If there are alternative strategies for economic development, we stand ready to examine and discuss them," Nanba proposed. The Parliament's Committee on State-Legal Policy intends to continue deliberations on the aparthotels draft bill.