Ongoing Structural Reforms
By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Monday, June 25
On November 23, the Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze and the members of the majority held a discussion on government structural changes. Georgia’s new prime minister must present a new cabinet of ministers. In the framework of this process, the ruling team discusses a new initiative about merging several ministries. According to the new initiative, the Ministry of Culture and Sports will be merged with the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, The Ministry of Corrections will be united with the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons will be merged with Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs of Georgia.
The initiation about structural reforms of the Georgian Government caused controversies. After the consultation meeting, one of the leaders of the parliamentary majority Gia Volsky told journalists that different opinions emerged on certain issues at the meeting, but they reached an agreement.
Controversy in opinions was caused by the idea of merging the Ministry of Culture and Sports with the Ministry of Education and Science. Georgian Dream member Nukri Kantaria stated before meeting with the prime minister that he agreed with the necessity of reduction of ministries, but not at the expense of abolishing the Ministry of Culture.
After the consultation meeting, Kantaria said that he introduced his views to the prime minister and that Bakhtadze will think about the idea of merging the Ministries of Culture and Education. After the meeting, the members of the ruling team stated that it was the final consultation held about structural changes.
Only 8 months have passed since the last structural changes. In November 2017, several ministries and state agencies have been merged, among them:
Ministry of Energy with Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development;
Ministry of Youth Affairs (component of former Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs of Georgia) with the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia;
Ministry of Sport (component of former Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs of Georgia with the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia;
Component of Resource Protection from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia with Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development;
Ministry of Environment (comportment of former Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia) with Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia;
Office of the state minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic integration with Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia;
The process of “optimization”, as it was called by the Government, did not have any significant bureaucratic outcome, nor economic benefits. As of the new initiative of structural reforms, representatives of the ruling party say that the main purpose is to create a small and efficient government that will be able to make quick decisions.
The optimization of the public sector, which takes a large portion of the state budget is crucial for Georgia. Therefore, it is important to reduce the state bureaucratic mechanism. Changing names of various ministries and state agencies is not enough. Their functions should be redefined and the expenses relating the issue need to be assessed.
Merging the Ministry of Culture and Sport with the Ministry of Education and Science incites additional questions. A large part of society doesn't agree with funding culture and sports using the state budget. On the other hand, no one argues that education should be one of the main priorities of the country, thus from this perspective, merging these two governmental bodies could be controversial for the population.