Georgia’s Defense Minister refuses to cover the expenses to keep the president’s plane, while the prime minister calls on Mikheil Saakashvili to move out of his president’s palace and instead go to work at the government office.

Friday, Defense Minister Irakli Alasania and Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili made these statements explaining that it is necessary for the state to save money. They say it will save tens of million of lari per year.

The president’s expenses has been controversial in recent years. Even though the money is spent by the state and should be public, details of President Saakashvili’s spending remains secret. But unofficially, the president spends a large amount of money on unnecessary things.

It was reported that the costs for the president’s plane were covered by the Defense Ministry, although it is not the duty of this ministry. The opposition brought up this issue during Saakashvili’s first term, but the government never commented. The new defense minister confirmed that the ministry spent 800 000 lari, about USD 485 000 monthly, on Saakashvili’s personal plane. This totals about USD 6 million a year.

When Mikheil Saakashvili came to power, he was said he won’t have undefined expenses and that he would travel abroad on ordinary passenger planes. National channels then reported about one of his trips by ordinary plane, but ever since Saakashvili never fulfilled the promise.

Friday, Irakli Alasania said he won’t let 800 000 lari be spent on such expenses, as it is ‘incorrect and unreasonable expenses.”

“We will get released from these obligations. 13 million is already spent out of 80 million. In the future we have obligation to pay 74 million,” minister said.

Alasania says financing should be effectively spent for development of military readiness and soldiers, but not for luxury of a single person.

Prime Minister meanwhile called for president to leave the palace and use resident at government office. He said much money is spent from the state to serve president, which is unacceptable.

“We will significantly decrease financing of president administration, as large amount of money is spent. 800 000 lari was allocated to pay electricity fee for president’s palace,” he said adding that such type of expenses won’t be allowed anymore “as it is not interest of country to serve such fashionable building.”

In an interview with Maestro TV Nodar Khaduri, new Finance Minister said it is not excluded to build a hotel at president’s residence. He added that palace in Avlabari, downtown Tbilisi, won’t be president’s residence any more.

It is possible to give this residence to certain company, which will change purpose to the building, he said.

“It is located at very interesting place, historical center of Tbilisi, there are good views. It is important that it won’t interrupt president to fulfill own duties.”

Nodar Khaduri noted that former Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili was ‘preparing separate office’ for himself, as he was rehabilitating former US embassy building. He said 30 million is already spent with such purpose.

Defense Minister