Notes have been added to the Georgia section of the US Fiscal Year 2021 State and Foreign Operations Funding bill, released by the United States House Appropriations Subcommittee on July 6.
The bill proposed by the House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey still reads that Georgia should receive “not less than USD 132,025,000 financial assistance.'
However, the bill also stipulates that 15 per cent of the funds may be withheld until the US Secretary of State determines and reports that the Georgian government is taking effective steps to strengthen democratic institutions, combat corruption and ensure that the rule of law in the private sector is consistent with international, recognised standards.
In the supplements, the committee applauded the adoption of constitutional amendments by the Georgian parliament to establish a proportional representation system on June 29, 2020, ‘enacted as a result of an agreement among a majority of Georgian political parties.
The bill says that the secretary shall determine whether the Georgian government is:
• Effectively implementing electoral reform.
• Respecting the independence of the judiciary, including from legislative or executive interference.
• Effectively implementing the necessary policies to ensure accountability and transparency, including unfettered access to public information.
• Protecting the rights of civil society, opposition political parties, and the independence of the media.
• Limiting the informal influence of oligarchs over functions of government and the application of laws and regulations.
The withholding of funds does not apply to programmes that support 'democracy, the rule of law, civil society and the media, or programmes to reduce gender-based violence and to protect vulnerable populations".
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