New Finance, Economy Ministers Appointed

Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli said on June 30 that Lexo Alexishvili, who is Economy Minister, will now become the Finance Minister replacing Valery Chechelashvili. This latter filed resignation following the high-profile arrests in the Tax Department involving corruption charges.

Nogaideli nominated Irakli Chogovadze, who is currently the Chief of the State Property Management Agency, as the new Economy Minister.

“Lexo Alexishvili played an important role in the process of privatization and largely contributed to development of the country’s economic plans,” Nogaideli said at a news conference on June 30.

Before becoming the Economy Minister in February, Alexishvili served as Deputy Finance Minister.

The Prime Minister denied recent media speculations about anticipated major reshuffle in the cabinet by saying that he will not even comment about this.

Speculations regarding the cabinet reshuffle sparked shortly after ex-Finance Minister Valery Chechelashvili announced about his resignation on June 29. Some Georgian media sources reported that Prime Minister Nogaideli was considered as new Finance Minister, while Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili as the Prime Minister. According to this report Vano Merabishvili, the Interior Minister, was thought would replace Okruashvili as Defense Minister.

President Saakashvili said while addressing the government’s session on June 29 that he is satisfied with the government’s performance and no major cabinet reshuffle is anticipated. “We have a stable government,” he added.

Chechelashvili’s resignation follows the arrest of Chief of the Tbilisi Tax Department Temur Dvali, his deputy and several other officials of the Department on June 28. Dvali is accused of misuse of power and other ex-officials for allegedly taking 150,000 Lari as a bribe in exchange of writing-off 3 million Lari of tax payment from one of the private firms.

The case prompted President Saakashvili to demand from Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli to, as he put it, “consider responsibility of the Finance Minister” and to carry out “fundamental and urgent reforms” in the system.

“I have no doubts that [ex-Finance Minister Valery] Chechelashvili is an honest person and a good professional, but it is not enough, it is important also not to have corrupt officials around you,” Saakashvili said, while addressing the cabinet members on June 29.
Chechelashvili told reporters after the resignation that Saakashvili decision was “fair.” He said that he did not know that there was such a high level of corruption in the Tax Department.

“It is clear that the system needs urgent and fundamental reforms… It is still possible to collect at least 100 million [the President did not specified the currency] in taxes, which we fail to do,” Saakashvili said.

Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli said at a news conference on June 29 that Chechelashvili is a good professional and “will return back to the diplomatic activities.”

Valery Chechelashvili was Georgia’s Ambassador to Russia before the appointment as the Finance Minister in February. He replaced on this position Zurab Nogaideli, who took over the Prime Minister’s position after Zurab Zhvania’s sudden death.

According to some unofficial reports, after Zhvania’s death, Valery Chechelashvili was one of the possible candidacies for the Prime Minister’s position, strongly supported by Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze.


Back to top button