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Saakashvili criticises Ministers

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, July 22
The main problems in Georgia are the “non-professionalism” of a number of institutions, bureaucracy, the fear of making important decisions and avoiding certain issues, the Georgian President said at a Government session in Kvareli on Tuesday.

Mikheil Saakashvili specifically criticised the Environment, Healthcare and Refugees Ministers. He also slammed the former Deputy Economy Minister, Grigol Gobejishvili, saying that he sent a letter to a potential investor, interested in a site close to Poti, two months late. “He was planning to invest 9 million and create an additional plant (a big refrigerator) where people would be employed. This would increase Georgia’s export potential,” the President said. “The businessman got an answer 2 months after his latter arrived and was told to apply to the Poti Mayor’s office instead of the Ministry of Economy,” he noted, adding that “any normal Minister or Deputy Minister would have called the businessman, invited him to his office or taken him to a cafe and then called him every other day to ask when the agreement would be signed.”

Saakashvili said the situation is “almost the same” in several Ministries. “That’s why we cannot resolve the issues related to the Georgian forests, that’s why there are so many problems in many healthcare institutions and social spheres and in the Ministry of Refugees and Resettlement,” the President said at the Government session. “There are problems because you and your employees are just sitting and doing nothing. We are not going to tolerate this. In a liberal economy we should attract investments and make Georgia a serious exporter, employ people and overcome obstacles,” he added.

Saakashvili said that he does not need people who agree with his every word. “Neither do I need people who do nothing but explain to me why they cannot do this or that. I would prefer people who oppose me and show me alternative ways of resolving a problem,” the President noted. “We need lively, active people full of ideas and enthusiasm. We have such people in the state apparatus,” he added.

Saakashvili suggested that the number of “relatives and friends” working at the Ministries should also be supervised. “It is very important to me that all Ministries are transparent from the inside as well as the outside. The rooms in the President’s administration, as well as the Interior Ministry building, are transparent,” the President stated. "This is not just a pose – rooms are not for drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes in, they are for doing the job in. We are all on the frontline, this is a fight for the future of our country,” he said.

The President suggested that the only criteria for choosing employees should be “their love of the motherland and their professionalism.” “Nepotism should not exist. Of course it is possible for a good person be a friend or relative of someone [another official], however, this should be an exception and we should be careful in such cases,” Saakashvili noted, adding that “appointing relatives, schoolmates and friends to different positions should be over.”

The Ministers criticised by the President said that “all of his remarks were just.” “Indeed, there is a need for more communication with the refugees,” Minister of Refugees and Resettlement Koba Subeliani said. “We know that there is still a lot to do. Being satisfied with what has already been done means not being active. So I should become more active as well as others,” he added. Healthcare Minister Sandro Kvitashvili said that “there are shortcomings, however the Ministry is currently working with the President and the Prime Minister to resolve them."