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PM Bidzina Ivanishvili talks to Georgian and foreign journalists

By Ana Robakidze
Friday, November 23
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili held a press conference for about 150 Georgian and foreign journalists at the Radisson Hotel on November 22nd. PM summarized the work of his cabinet in the last month since taking power and also outlined future projects the government plans to carry out. Afterwards Ivanishvili answered journalists' questions.

"Justice should be restored in the country with the help of the Prosecutor’s Office and the judicial system...We are trying to maintain the level of independence the judicial system has now." Ivanishvili stated, referring to the importance of an effective and independent court.

PM said economic development, agriculture and education still remain the major priorities of his cabinet.

"A strong economy is the key to many problems, including restoring sovereignty over the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the return of Georgian immigrants who have moved to different parts of the world in search for a job to provide their families." Ivanishvili said before adding that Georgia should be turned into "an attractive and interesting country for everyone."

At the press conference the Prime Minister outlined an initiative to create an investment foundation and a "creative group". "The foundation will become a business partner to private investors, Georgian or foreign. The fund will be a partner for an investor who has an interesting idea. The foundation will provide some partof the total investment. Wealthy Georgians and foreign investors can participate in the decision-making process as well as overseeing the distribution of funds.” Ivanishvili stated.

Ivanishvili added that no major changes in legal regulations are planned but the government will ensure that monopolies are avoided. “An anti-monopoly policy and labor code will correspond to international standards." the Prime Minister commented.

The “creative group" will be an independent structure from the investment foundation, but they will work in co-operation. According to Ivanishvili the "creative group" will work on determining investment priorities.

The first agricultural project funded from the "Foundation of One Billion" will be launched next spring, Ivanishvili informed those present. He added that the Ministry of Agriculture has close connections with international foundations, and therefore additional financial sources will be available to help Georgian farmers.The Prime Minister also announced that a special system will be formed providing farmers with access to preferential credits.

Ivanishvili also spoke about healthcare and social benefits. Changes in the budget have made additional funding of state health insurance possible. In addition social assistance will be doubled for approximately 400,000 citizens.

Ivanishvili also commented on possible increases of university tuition fees, which have been a major topic since they were proposed several weeks ago. The Prime Minister confirmed that increased fees will be covered by the state and will therefore not affect students.

In reference to Georgia's form of government Ivanishvili stated: “Since October 1st Georgia has been a parliamentary republic...the President will not be impeached, the post will be maintained, but President shall be given restricted powers. Changes in the Constitution strengthening the Georgian Parliament will likely take place before the presidential election next October." the Prime Minister claimed.

Ivanishvili made some clarifications about when he will leave politics. The Prime Minister still plans to leave his post in the spring of 2014, but added "I will only quit the politics if everything is all right." If all his proposals are carried out successfully the Prime Minister will move to civil society and help to strengthen it.