The FINANCIAL — The incumbent Minister of Economy of Georgia, Dmitry Kumsishvili, is the fifteenth minister to hold this post since 1995. This governmental position has shown the most frequent reshuffle of all the posts in Georgia. It is followed by the Ministers of Defence, Justice and Finance, each post currently being held by their thirteenth ministers of the last 21 years.
Under the second Georgian President, Eduard Shevardnadze, during 1995-2003, independent Georgia changed its Minister of State four times. Giorgi Arsenishvili, appointed as State Minister in May 2000, was the shortest-serving state minister under President Shevardnadze. He was in office for just seven months. Niko Lekishvili, who took office in 1995 and left in 1998, became the longest-serving State Minister of Georgia of Shevardnadze’s presidency.
There were seven prime ministers in office during the third Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili’s rule from 2004-2013. PM Grigol Mgaloblishvili and Ivane Merabishvili have been the shortest-serving heads of government – in office for only three months. Nika Gilauri, independent candidate of Saakashvili’s cabinet, was the longest-serving PM – in office from 2009-2012. Since the government change in Georgia in 2012, the cabinet has been headed by three different PMs, therefore making their total number thirteen.
The current Georgian cabinet consists of three state ministers and sixteen ministers. The number of ministers in Georgia has been an issue of criticism. Ex-President of National Bank of Georgia, Giorgi Kadagidze, was one of those who made an open statement regarding the optimization of the nineteen ministries in Georgia. As he believed, the process of reducing the number of ministries would contribute to the reduction of bureaucracy and at the same time would allow Georgian taxpayers to save hundreds of millions of dollars.
Last week Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili expressed his complaint regarding the frequent change of Defence Minister of Georgia. The President’s statement was followed by an additional reshuffle of the cabinet where PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili presented the fourth Minister of Defence of the last four years.
During the last twenty-one years Georgia has had fifteen Ministers of Economy. Vladimer Papava, who took office in 1994 and left in 2000, was the longest-serving minister of this post. The shortest-serving Minister of Economy of Georgia was Irakli Okruashvili, who spent only seven days in office
Okruashvili as Minister of Economy beat all records as the shortest-serving minister in the history of Georgia of the past two decades.
Out of a total 13 Ministers of Defence of Georgia, Tinatin Khidasheli and Dimitri Shashkin were the shortest-serving ministers, holding office for just three months each. David Tevzadze, who held office from 1998-2004, was the longest-serving minister of this establishment.
With just under two months in office during his first term in this position, Zurab Adeishvili was the shortest-serving Minister of Justice of Georgia. Adeishvili later returned to this position after four years. The second term was more long-term for Adeishvili; he managed to hold office for four years. This governmental agency was headed for four years by Tedo Ninidze, from 1994-1998. Four years has been the longest term for any of the ministers of this post.
David Kobidze, heading the Ministry of Finance of Georgia from 1993-1997, was the longest-serving Minister. A record short term was served by Dimitri Gvindadze, who headed the Ministry for just two months.
Following the Ministries of Economy, Justice and Finance, other state bodies characterized by a frequent change of their leader are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resource Protection. The incumbents Mikheil Janelidze and Gigla Agulashvili, respectively, are each the twelfth ministers since 1995.
“Frequent change of ministers has a negative impact on it and creates a sense of instability, also for the business environment. During the past twelve years we have had ten ministers of foreign affairs. This is impossible. There are three-four year terms that need to be met,” Zviad Chumburidze, Secretary General of the EU-Georgia Business Council, told The FINANCIAL.
Together with criticizing the frequent change of ministers Chumburidze also mentioned the issue of less competent ministers, which is a challenge for Georgia. “The best solution to this issue is selecting proper candidates from the start. We have been making this mistake for 25 years. The Government that comes into power should seriously think about its human resources,” he said.
The current Georgian PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili headed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia for the shortest term in its history of the past two decades. The longest-serving minister was Irakli Menagharishvili, serving during the reign of the country’s second president, Shevardnadze, from 1995-2003.
During the past 21 years the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, as well as the Ministry of Internal Affairs, has changed its head eleven times. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons have changed ten ministers. The incumbent David Sergeenko, the Minister of Health, Labour and Social Affairs of Georgia, is ninth to hold this position. The Ministry of Energy as well as the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure have been headed by eight separate ministers each.
The Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance, which was only established in 2009, has already changed minister six times.
According to the report released by the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee – The impact and effectiveness of ministerial reshuffles – “Reshuffles have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the Government”.
“Even the most able minister needs time to become familiar with a new brief. Whenever someone is moved to a new post, there will be an inevitable delay before they are fully effective. This is particularly the case when the new minister has no previous experience of the subject area. There will be occasions when a fresh perspective is useful, but we believe that most major Government policies will benefit from having continuity of Ministers within the responsible department. This also enables Parliament more effectively to perform its function of holding the Government to account: it is difficult to hold ministers to account for policies they oversaw if they have moved to new posts, and it also takes time before a new Minister is in a position to respond to detailed scrutiny from parliamentarians.”
According to the report, “Ministers should be left in post long enough to make a difference. More junior ministers should be left in post for a minimum of two years. This will not always be possible, but we would like it to become the norm”.