Government reports to the people
By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, September 4
Tbilisi’s main street, Rustaveli Avenue, was blocked for a day on September 5. However this time it was not the opposition but the Government which had closed the street. The authorities were holding a one day exhibition entitled “Report to the People” as part of the “public dialogue” initiated by the President, in which all the Ministries presented their “achievements” and future projects to the public. Ministers stated that “the Government is obliged to report to the people.”
“All Ministries fulfil different tasks and it is important that the people find out what specific institutions are doing,” Prime Minister Nika Gilauri, who visited the pavilions of different state institutions on Rustaveli, said. “The Government will continue holding these kind of events. This is the opportunity for the Government to get information directly from people, to hear their questions and problems,” the PM added.
Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili also visited the “exhibition” on Saturday. The Ministry of Internal Affairs presented an improvised crime scene on Rustaveli Avenue and policemen explained to visitors to the pavilion how some of the forensic tools exhibited there were used. Minister Merabishvili said the Interior Ministry is “trusted” by the public. He said that the transparent headquarters building of his Ministry indicates that the work of the institution is “also transparent.” “It is symbolic that the police buildings are transparent,” he stated. “Trust towards the police is growing, and this is very important. It is also important that the trust previously gained by the police has been maintained,” Merabishvili said.
Some of the Ministers, including the Minister of Energy Alexander Khetaguri, personally presented the work of their Ministries on Rustaveli Avenue, giving ordinary citizens the opportunity to approach them and ask questions directly. Khetaguri told journalists that most of the questions he had been asked were about gas supply to Georgian villages. “We provided quite detailed information about the Presidential project “Gas in Every Village”, giving them a chance to find out in which villages the gas supply process has been completed and which will be the next to receive it,” Khetaguri told journalists.
Minister for Regional Development and Infrastructure David Tkeshelashvili assessed the exhibition as an “attempt to report to the people the activities of the Ministries” and expressed his assurance that “seemingly unusual” action “will work”. However some political analysts have downplayed the exhibition, calling it a “parody of real unity between the people and the Government.” Independent political commentator Gia Khukhashvili said it was just a “PR stunt”. “Almost all the Ministries are closed to the public all year and then suddenly the Ministers come out into the streets. It somehow reminds me of the Soviet Union,” Khukhashvili told The Messenger.
The analyst also expressed his doubts about possible “positive results of the exhibition.” Khukhashvili said it is not likely that the government would increase its rating or popularity with society through Saturday’s exhibition. “On the contrary, this may cause more irritation of the public,” the analyst suggested.