Georgia’s Speaker of Parliament says the prime minister should decide whether opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili may be allowed to help reimburse losses suffered after yesterday’s storm.
Ivanishvili’s opposition Georgian Dream coalition has offered to help villagers affected by the extreme weather.
July 19, an unusually strong hail storm destroyed crops, tore roofs off houses, damaged communications and electric equipment in several regions of Georgia. Preliminary estimates indicate the damages are several tens of millions of lari.
President Mikheil Saakshvili ordered his ministers to solve problems created by the natural disaster in Kakheti, a region in the east of Georgia and the most important wine district.
“Everything is like after a war there. So as we restored everything after the war, we should now restore everything here in the next weeks and Vano Merabishvili has the perfect experience. He will head this work,” the president said.
Reservist brigades have already been called up to take part in the restoration work. Amendments are to be made in the state budget to restore losses. This is part of the background to why the president gathered the government for an extraordinary session in disaster-struck Telavi on Thursday.
The Georgian Dream coalition offered the government help.
“It’s a pity that Bidzina Ivanishvili doesn’t have the constitutional right of charity. He wants to help affected whether it will be money compensation or medical expenses. So our political coalition expresses desire to participate in works of liquidation headquarters and I ask government to give us right and teach us legal ways of how our representatives can get involved. Our majoritarian MPs are in their regions in Kakheti and are introduced with situation at the place,” Maia Panjikidze, spokesperson for Georgian Dream said today.
Over the last few months, the government has claimed that Ivanishvili wants to buy the Georgian people, and he should know that he cannot buy everything with money. It seized companies which don’t formally belong to Ivanishvili, but are indirectly linked, and the government’s argument is that everyone knows that these companies are the property of Ivanishvili.
The government has not yet made any comments about the Georgian Dream proposal.
Speaker of Parliament Davit Bakradze told DF Watch that he cannot make political comments on this question, and he calls on Ivanishvili to clarify this issue with Prime Minister Vano Merabsihvili.
“We repeatedly heard from Mr Ivanishvili that Vano Merabishvili is a good manager. So he can contact Mr Merabishvili, and let them agree if there is any form, by which Ivanishvili can participate in the works of the [disaster management] headquarters. The headquarters will be set up by participation of the government and ministers, but I am sure that Vano is such a good manager that they will be able to agree on something if he wants.”
Cabinet of Prime Minister doesn’t make comment on this issue.