Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has announced plans to merge a number of ministries, cutting down on the total number by four. The changes are being accompanied by a Cabinet reshuffle.
Kvirikashvili said at a 13 November press-conference that the ministries of European and Euro-Atlantic integration, sport and youth, energy, and environment will all be merged with other ministries.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection will have its responsibilities split between the ministries of agriculture and economy, with the latter also taking over the Ministry of Energy.
The State Ministry of Euro-Atlantic Integration will integrated into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which will now be called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration.
The youth component of the Ministry of Sport & Youth Affairs will be transferred to the Ministry of Education, while the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection will take over sports.
With the changes, Agriculture Minister Levan Davitashvili will now take on the expanded portfolio of Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture.
Finance Minister Dimitri Kumsishvili will be appointed Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Energy, and Natural Resources, and will also serve as First Deputy Prime Minister.
The pro-rector of Tbilisi State University, Professor Mikheil Chkhenkeli will replace Aleksandre Jejelava as the Minister of Education and Science and Youth Affairs. Jejelava, the Second Deputy Prime-Minister, had occupied the post since June 2016, and in the wake of the October 2017 elections, he headed public relations policy for the government.
Mikheil Giorgadze will continue in the expanded post of Minister of Culture, Monument Protection and, Sports.
Changes were also announced elsewhere in the government.
Giorgi Gakharia, Economy Minister since December 2016, will replace Giorgi Mghebrishvili as Interior Minister, also serving as a Deputy Prime Minister.
Mamuka Bakhtadze, current head of the state-owned Georgian Railway Company, will replace Gakharia as Finance Minister.
In a separate move, the Foreign Intelligence Service will merge with the State Security Service, Georgia’s domestic security agency.
The Emergency Management Agency, which has worked under the Interior Ministry, will now be placed under the State Security and Crisis Management Council. Former Interior Minister Giorgi Mghebrishvili will serve as its head directly accountable to the Prime Minister.
According to Kvirikashvili, the package of changes will be confirmed at the next cabinet meeting, and then sent to parliament to be voted on.
It is unconfirmed whether Education Minister Jejelava, Sports and Youth Minister Tariel Khechikashvili, and Environment Minister Gigla Agulashvili will stay on in government.