Parliament discussed on December 18 a Georgian Dream-proposed draft law envisaging transfer of the Special State Protection Service (SSPS) from subordination of President to government.
SSPS, the agency with annual budget of GEL 47 million, which is now under the President’s control, is in charge of providing security to high-ranking officials, as well as security of various state facilities and buildings.
If the proposal is approved by the Parliament the agency will go under the government’s subordination and PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, not President Saakashvili, will have the right to dismiss or appoint head of SSPS. Temur Janashia, who was President Saakashvili’s chief bodyguard and then served as head of President’s administration, is now the head of SSPS.
Lawmakers from the UNM spoke strongly against the proposal, describing it as a political move by the Georgian Dream coalition and its leader PM Ivanishvili aimed at grabbing as much power as possible following the election victory in October.
“Shifting one agency from the subordination of one institution to another that’s how, it seems, [Georgian Dream] understands cohabitation,” UNM MP Pavle Kublashvili said and added that Georgian Dream was not able to show “patience” and wait for the new constitutional provisions to enter into force in late 2013 when PM’s powers will increase significantly at the expense of those of the President.
UNM has also claimed that the proposal was “unconstitutional” because, if approved, the government would take control over an agency while the law on government structure did not envisage it.
Georgian Dream lawmakers argued that the move was about providing better management, control and coordination of security structures, as well as securing better parliamentary oversight over SSPS.
During the discussions Parliamentary Chairman Davit Usupashvili hinted on an allegation that President Saakashvili was possibly using “GEL 50,000 on daily basis” from SSPS budget for the purposes which “have nothing to do with providing security”; he did not elaborate.
Four days after the October 1 parliamentary elections and three weeks before the new government took office, President Saakashvili issued a decree transferring the Agency for Special State Communications from the subordination of the Interior Ministry to SSPS. The Agency for Special State Communications is in charge of running secure communication lines for top level and senior officials, among them the President, parliamentary speaker, members of the National Security Council and others.
Also on October 5 President Saakashvili issued a decree transferring state agency in charge of maintenance and providing proper functioning of governmental and presidential residences and facilities under the subordination of SSPS; previously the agency was under the subordination of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development.