Three ministers have lost their posts in the biggest cabinet reshuffle in nine months; all key ministers, however, have retained their portfolios.
Lexo Alexishvili, the finance minister, will replace Roman Gotsiridze as the president of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG), Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli said on August 30.
Alexishvili will assume his new duties at the end of September, Nogaideli said, when the current incumbent is due to step down, in accordance with his resignation letter. Gotsiridze's resignation had been touted by the media since May.
Gia Kavtaradze, the justice minister, will be replaced by Eka Tkeshelashvili, the chairperson of the Court of Appeals. “Kavtaradze has decided to return to private legal practice,” PM Nogaideli said.
In the past Eka Tkeshelashvili held the positions of deputy interior minister, as well as deputy justice minister.
In other changes, which were announced on August 29, Lado Chipashvili, the minister for healthcare, labor and social welfare, will be replaced by the current minister of environment, Davit Tkeshelashvili, whose position will in turn be filled by his deputy, Davit Chantladze. Chipashvili will be appointed as Georgia’s ambassador to the Czech Republic.
The prime minister said the new cabinet, with a new programme of government, would be submitted for approval to the parliament on September 1.
“The changes were prompted by the need to make the cabinet more efficient,” PM Nogaideli said.
He said that the appointment of the new president of the central bank didn't signal any change in policy. “Firm and strict monetary policy will be maintained,” PM Nogaideli said. “And there will be even more coordination between the Finance Ministry and the National Bank.”
He also said that the former energy minister and soon to be new finance minister, Nika Gilauri, “has been confirmed to be a good manager and a stubborn person.” Stubborness, Nogaideli said, was a feature “of vital importance for a finance minister.”
PM Nogaideli also praised his government's performance and said he expected GDP to reach USD 10 billion by the end of the year. “We expected 10% inflation; updated forecasts, however, indicate that it will be less than 8%,” he said. “We have already attracted USD 2.5 billion in foreign direct investment, which is almost 25% of GDP.”
“So I am fully satisfied with the economic developments,” he added. “And the goal of the latest cabinet reshuffle is to achieve even more efficiency.”
President Saakashvili said despite some changes in the cabinet, Georgia had “a stable, united team” in government.
“The major difference between our cabinet and the governments of some other countries is that our cabinet is a united team. This is a stable group which speaks with one voice and is result-oriented,” Saakashvili told reporters in the village of Tamarasheni in the South Ossetian conflict zone on August 30.
He said “fresh blood” was always needed and those with good performance records in the government would always be promoted.
Leader of opposition Republican Party, Davit Usupashvili, said the cabinet reshuffle had signaled that President Saakashvili is launching preparations for the next year’s parliamentary and presidential elections.
“Based on this cabinet Saakashvili is creating an election headquarters, an election team which he will be able to fully count on,” Usupashvili said.