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Georgian PM Reshuffles Cabinet, Presents New Faces

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, July 13
Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze reshuffled the cabinet and presented three new minister candidates: Mikheil Batiashvili, as the Minister of Education, Ivane Machavariani was named as the candidate for the Minister of Finance and Giorgi Kobulia was presented as the candidate for the post of the Minister of Economy.

Mikheil Batiashvili is the former rector of the University of Business and Technology and will replace the former minister Mikheil Chkhenkeli. According to the prime minister, he is experienced in cooperating with foreign scientific centers and in parallel is the member of Harvard Business School Strategy and Competitiveness Institute.

As Bakhtadze said, the government plans to implement a 5-level reform that involves the integration of preschool education, school education, vocational education, higher education and science, the introduction of innovative education systems, and deepening ties between education and economics.

“Implementation of reforms will start in all five stages of education as soon as possible…These reforms will give us a new system that is based on innovations and technologies," said Mikheil Batiashvili.

As for the candidate for the Economy Minister Giorgi Kobulia, the prime minister underlined his 18 year experience in the consultation business, saying he is ready to share his knowledge for the good of the country putting major accent on agriculture and development of rural area where poverty is higher, as well as supporting small and medium enterprises.

“We’ll pay particular attention to the development of the villages and regions as the poverty level is much higher there,” the candidate said, adding our economic development is based not only on economic growth but also on the distribution of economic revenues among the population.

Ivane Machavariani, presented for the post of the Finance Minister, has been the Finance and Commercial Director of GSM operator “Geocell”, which is the part of Telia Company, one of the world's major telecom operators.

Bakhtadze hopes that Macharashvili’s experience will help the government in the digital transformation of the economy.

Macharashvili spoke about the priorities that the Ministry of Finance will have under his leadership.

“The Ministry of Finance will play a leading role in the implementation of the reforms. This is the introduction of a small government and the inclusion of economy,” he noted.

As a result of the government structural changes, implemented by the PM Bakhtadze, there will be 10 ministries and 1 state ministry in the new government.

The new list of the cabinet will be sent to the parliament for approval, where the ruling Georgian Dream has 116 MPs out of total 150-seats.

Opposition has slammed the PM for the new ministers, saying they are not people with political weight.

European Georgia member, Sergo Ratiani says Bakhtadze’s team will not have the power and ability to carry out the reforms.

“In the team presented by the Prime Minister, we do not see political faces, figures with political weight. This is somewhat similar to the technical government. Consequently, we do not see the prospect that they have the opportunity and power to implement reforms that the country needs today, "Sergo Ratiani said.

Expert Gia Khukhashvili says the PM’s views are acceptable for him, but he says he does not know the new faces and cannot assess their abilities and skills.

“I cannot be too skeptical in advance and I am not too optimistic, too. But if these people are brought to the government in order to implement Bakhtadze's visions, I just welcome it, "Khukhashvili said.