President Saakashvili said a new glass-domed presidential palace in Tbilisi “costs a trifle in comparison with the country’s budget.”
The presidential palace in the capital city’s Avlabari district has turned into a matter of controversy with some newspapers speculating that hundreds of millions have been spent on its construction.
According to Saakashvili’s words construction of the presidential palace took only up to GEL 13 million.
“When we face such economic problems against the background of the global recession and people live in hardship in our country, some may ask, is it time to spend money on palaces?” Saakashvili said.
“What we’ve spent on construction of this palace amounts to about 0.18% of the entire state expenditures,” Saakashvili told a group of school pupils who visited the palace on July 11.
According to the Finance Ministry, 2009 budgetary expenditures stand at about GEL 7 billion.
“You should understand that this is the biggest governmental building built in Georgia in 2,000 years,” the President said. “Even during the greatest epochs we did not have large state buildings. The Georgians were always fighting and we had no time to build such things. Today we are again involved in the struggle for existence of our country, but we are fighting with one hand and building with other hand, because it is impossible to win in modern world without great construction, without creating modern institutions and modern economy.”
“I also want to say that this building had been under construction for almost five years, because we were not in a hurry. You probably know that I am very impatient. But during these five years we have built more schools, more roads, more kindergartens and more playing grounds than it had been built in any moment of Georgia’s history. Therefore, we were not hurrying to build this building because we had to build everything else before.”
“This palace is not so rich, but it is the most perfect, modern palace, which has ever been built by anyone or anywhere in the modern world,” he added.