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Ex-Minister of Agriculture returns as Prime Ministerís advisor

By Messenger Staff
Friday, March 17
Davit Kirvalidze, who served as Georgiaís Minister of Agriculture in 2013 and quit after a notorious state money misspending case, has been appointed as advisor to the Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili for agricultural and rural development issues.

Kvirikashvili has already signed the relevant decree, Georgian media reported based on the Prime Ministerís press office.

Kirvalidze is a member of the board of directors of the American organization CNFA, which carries out projects of the US government in more than 20 countries. Since 2006, CNFA has carried out 10 significant projects in Georgia.

Davit Kirvalidze is a Doctor of Agricultural Sciences, and has delivered lectures at the Agricultural University, the US-Georgia Ecology and Environmental Protection Institute and the University of Maryland (USA). Kirvalidze has twice been the Minister of Agriculture of Georgia and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of Agrarian Issues.

Kirvalidze quit his post on May 2 in 2013. As he explained, his decision was related to the arrests of several individuals at the Ministry of Agriculture the previous day. Kitvalidze suggested that his resignation could be temporary and that when the investigation ended he could return to the Ministry of Agriculture.

The promise of returning if no violations were found was also given by then-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) said on May 1 that officers of the Anti-Corruption Agency of the MIA detained several high-ranking officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and the Mekanizatori LTD Company.

On December 26 2012, the Georgian government allocated 54 million lari from the state budget for assisting various agricultural projects.

The MIA explained that as part of a government project, Mekanizatori was assigned to purchase agricultural tractors and other appliances with the allocated funds. Senior officials from Mekanizatori LTD and representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture were in charge of procurements.

"In the process of buying and choosing between various products with practically the same characteristics, the preference was made in favour of a particular manufacturer with the worst offer, as a result of which 100,000 euros was embezzled in purchasing tractors," the MIA statement read.

The MIA added that in January 2013, tractors and other necessary appliances were purchased, during which high-ranking officials embezzled 2.5 million lari from the state budget.

But nine months later in February 2014, misspending charges in this highly controversial case were dropped from the ministry officials.

However, Kirvalidze was never reinstated in his position as was promised.

Some experts suggested that some figures of the authorities did not want to see Kirvalidze in the role, as his presence created obstacles for them to illegally gain money from projects worth millions.

The questions over the case and Kirvalidzeís resignation still remain unknown. It will be interesting to see why the former minister accepted the new role after the broken promise and whether Georgia will see him again in his previous position.