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New government approved

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, July 28
Georgia has a new cabinet of ministers. 89 Members of Parliament voted in favor of the new government on July 26. The opposition did not support the candidates and left the parliament session in protest.

On July 21, Prime Minister Irakli Gharibshvili fired five ministers and re-assigned two. Through the new constitution, parliament had to confirm the whole cabinet. The new cabinet ministers are: Minister of Corrections and legal Assistance-Giorgi Mghebrishvili, Minister of Agriculture- Otar Danelia, Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development-Davit Shavliashvili, State Minister for Diaspora Affairs- Gela Dumbadze, and Minister of Culture- Mikhail Giorgadze.

Sozar Subari, the former Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance and Elguja Khokrishvili, former Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development have been reshuffled into new roles within the cabinet and have been named Minister for Internally Displaced Persons and Accommodation and the Minister of Environment Protection respectively.

Prior to the new cabinet confirmation, heated debates took place at parliament, when Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili and his nominees had to answer questions asked by the parliamentary minority United National Movement (UNM). Questions were asked regarding criminal bosses (thieves-in-law) in Georgia, high bonuses, the crime rate and the economic slowdown. The opposition claims were viewed as absurd by the PM, stressing that the UNM once again illustrated itself as an unconstructive, anti-state political force. UNM members emphasized that Gharibashvili lacks skills and professionalism, and he failed to provide answers to many questions.

The UNM representatives claim that criminal bosses are resuming their status in the country under the new government. They claim that such individuals are coming back to the country without real obstacles. The UNM states that criminals, who are bulling and abusing other inmates, are controlling prisons. The opposition also mentioned the recent statement made by the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association regarding the threat of criminal bosses’ superiority in Ghldani No. 8 prison. Responding to the speculations, PM Garibashvili stated that more thieves-in-law were arrested under the new government than in 2011, adding that such speculation is not even worth commenting on.

The opposition asked the Prime Minister why he did not change his economic team, when people are suffering from economic hardship. The PM stressed that the Minister of Economy Giorgi Kvirikashvili has improved the economic situation and accused the former government of leaving a poor social-economic situation behind in the country.

UNM MP Irma Nadirashvili read out a long list of cases, which she said, illustrate selective justice and the politicization of law enforcement agencies. Rejecting the list, the PM reminded the UNM of the prison-torture cases and called Nadirashvili’s statement demagoguery.

MP Levan Bezhashvili accused the government in the misuse of state funds and of giving high bonuses. Responding to the claim, Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri admitted that GEL 11.6 million less was spent on officials’ bonuses in 2013 compared to 2012, when the UNM was in office.

Bezhashvili stressed that the UNM deserved high bonuses, as there was economic growth under their administration. But Gharibashvili accused Bezhashvili, who chaired the State Audit Agency under the UNM, in closing his eyes to various misspending and misappropriation of state-owned money and property.