Georgian PM Reshapes and Reshuffles Cabinet

In a move designed to cut red-tape and bureaucracy, the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili announced a number of significant changes to the make-up of his cabinet on November 13. In the biggest move, the Ministry of Energy and the natural resources management component of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resource Protection will be incorporated into one ministry: the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. This new mega—ministry will be led by Dimitri Kumsishvili, first deputy prime minister and erstwhile minister of finance.

The current Minister of Economy Giorgi Gakharia has been moved to the Ministry of the Interior, and will also serve as vice-prime minister. The incumbent Interior Minister Giorgi Mgebrishvili will take up a role as head of the newly created Emergency Management Centre, an amalgamation of the Emergency Management Agency of the Interior Ministry and the State Security and Crisis Management Council. The new Minister of Finance will be INSEAD-educated Mamuka Bakhtadze, until now the head of Georgian Railways. His promotion is reward for successfully integrating Georgia into the Silk Road Corridor.

Other changes include the merger of the Ministry of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Current foreign minister Mikheil Janelidze will lead the agency, and will also be vice-prime minister. In all, the total number of ministries is being reduces from 18 to 14.

“The time has come to change government structures in order to form a more effective state apparatus and reduce bureaucracy and administrative expenses,” Mr Kvirikashvili told a news conference.

The change will require the entire cabinet to step down, meaning the government will face a fresh vote of confidence in parliament. It is currently, however, dominated by Kvirikashvili’s Georgian Dream party.

The opposition was not impressed with the changes.

“The proposed change makes no sense as there is no reduction in administrative expenditures in the recently adopted state budget,” the leader of the opposition European Georgia party, Giga Bokeria, told the AFP.