Head of Adjara Autonomous Republic’s government, Levan Varshalomidze, criticized PM Nika Gilauri for, as he put it, ignoring his requests for delegating “technical functions” to the Adjara’s local authorities.
Varshalomidze said at a news conference in Batumi that the autonomous republic’s ministries were not able to take even “minor, technical decisions” without approval from Tbilisi.
“They [Adjara’s ministries] have to wait until a Tbilisi-based bureaucrat signs a document,” Varshalomidze said. “It is simply unacceptable; it’s not right and it’s alarming.”
Public statement by Varshalomidze, who is a close ally of President Saakashvili, comes after Imedi television station reported on April 8 that for a year Adjara’s local government had been requesting for delegating some of the functions, which are currently under the Tbilisi’s authority. For instance, the education ministry of the autonomous republic was requesting to have a right to define number of staff in public schools of the region and agriculture ministry of the autonomous republic was requesting for the right to issue phytosanitary certificates, according to the Imedi TV’s report. Before broadcasting the report, a newscaster announced that it was about the problems created in Batumi because of government’s “negligence” to the requests of the local authorities of Adjara.
“Everyone should understand that delegating additional administrative powers to local government, which we have requested, will not only simplify and speed up our services, but will also further help local entrepreneurs and local population,” Varshalomidze said at a news conference on April 12.
“I can not understand why there was no response to the letters, which we have sent in Tbilisi in which we have been requesting delegating these technical functions to the government of Adjara. It is incomprehensible why the letters, signed by me and sent to the Prime Minister and other state agencies, were left without response,” he added.
In a response, Nikoloz Mchedlishvili, a spokesman for PM Gilauri, said on April 12, that the government members would meet with Levan Varshalomidze this week to discuss and resolve the issues raised by the head of Adjara’s government.
It was not immediately clear whether the case would have any major political consequences. Insider stories similar to the one reported by Imedi TV on April 8 is rare on the national television stations; likewise it is rare when a senior Georgian official publicly criticizes another high-ranking person in the government. Last August, dismissal of then economy minister, Lasha Zhvania, was preceded by series of reports by Imedi TV - which is managed by President Saakashvili’s close ally, Giorgi Arveladze - about disagreements between Zhvania and PM Gilauri.