Issue 4, 2018. August-September



New Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze has overhauled the country's economic team on his streamlined cabinet.

Bakhtadze was named prime minister in June after Giorgi Kvirikashvili stepped down from the post.

The new PM reduced the number of ministries in the country from 14 to 10 as part of the government's new "flexible" and "small government" policy.

The changes are predicted to help the government cut costs and Bakhtadze said the new, smaller cabinet will help "ensure a close link between education and economy."

Under the new structure, the Ministry of Culture and Sports merged with the Ministry of Education and Science.

"This is a very important reform. As you know, the main priority for us in Georgia is human beings, care about them and the creation of human capital. Therefore, achieving a high level of coordination in the fields of education, culture and sport is of high importance for us to achieve this goal," Bakhtadze said during a live televised news briefing broadcast on Rustavi-2 TV channel on 26 June. Other changes included merging the corrections ministry with the Ministry of Justice and the ministry that formally dealt with issues concerning internally displaced persons was abolished. Its functions were split between the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Labor, Healthcare and Social Welfare.

Meet the Ministers

Former CEO of the Geocell mobile operator, Ivane Machavariani, was named finance minister.

Machavariani has said that under his watch, the Finance Ministry will take a "leading role in the implementation of the reforms, first and foremost in the implementation of a small government".

Machavariani started at GeoCell in 1997 as a specialist in the company's financial department. He became GeoCell's CFO in 2006, and was named CEO in 2013. Giorgi Kobulia, who worked for the Moscow office of McKinsey and Company, is the country's new economy minister. In comments to the press, Kobulia said he will strive to ensure economic growth, with special attention to the development of villages and regions outside of capital Tbilisi. Kobulia received his master's degree in business administration at the Business School of the Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. He started at McKinsey and Company as a consultant following graduation, working his way up to the position of Chief Partner.

He provided " consultancy services regarding the economic issues for the leading and large-scale companies assisting them in solving problems in strategic management systems and production" while he was at McKinsey and Company, according to his official biography.

The head of Business and Technology University based at Silicon Valley Tbilisi, Mikheil Batiashvili, is the new head at the expanded Education and Science Ministry as it takes in the functions of the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Batiashvili is a psychologist, associate professor of Business Administration and a long-time member of The Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School.

He helped establish the Business and Technology University at Silicon Valley Tbilisi and served as the head of the university from 2016-2018. Prior to that, Batiashvili worked as the dean of the Business School at Ilia State University.

All other ministers retained their posts.