The issue regarding the Administration of the President, located on Atoneli street, Tbilisi, became one of the main reasons of disagreement between the administrations of the Government and the President. In spite of the pre-election announcement of the President Giorgi Margvelashvili refusing to work in the presidential residence built by former President Mikheil Saakashvili, after the elections he continued to perform his functions in this building. At the same time a new residence on Atoneli street was being constructed. After the construction Giorgi Margvelashvili did not move to new residence. The President informed the Government that he refused to leave Avlabari Residence and move to Atoneli residence.
Due to high public interest the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) requested all copies of correspondence between the administrations of the President and the Government regarding the residence of the President on Atoneli street.
The correspondence received from Presidential administration reveals that, on March 28th 2014, the head of the Administration of the President Lasha Abashidze during telephone conversion with the head of the Chancellery of the Government, Maia Tskitishvili, informed her that the President was not planning to use the building located on Atoneli street as a Presidential Residence. Maia Tskitishvili requested written confirmation of this conversation, in order to discuss advisability of continuing the construction process and decide on future function of the building.
After receiving the mentioned letter, on April 10th 2014 the Head of the Administration of the President, Lasha Abashidze requested information of annual exploitation costs of both residences from the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure and Special State Protection Service of Georgia in order to inform the president. Apparently, the President needed the mentioned information for making the final decision regarding his stay in the residence.
According to the information provided by the Administration of the President of Georgia, the Administration still had not received the response from the Special State Protection Service of Georgia. As for the response from the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, it is classified as "secret", therefore it remains unknown what were the financial data provided by the Ministry to the President of Georgia.
Earlier, on April 14th 2014, the Government sent another letter to the Administration of the President and informed it that in order to prevent additional expenses, the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure was forced to stop reconstruction process until the final decision about the status of the building was made.
For its part, on April 14th 2014, the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure informed the Administration of the President about the problems in the construction process to be completed in September 2014 which arouse due to changed decision of the President.
After the abovementioned correspondence, with 3 months delay, the Administration of the President officially confirmed to the Administration of the Government of Georgia in a written form that it was not going to use the building on Atoneli street as residence of the President, thus giving the Government of Georgia discretion to decide on the expediency of the construction process and its future usage.
Correspondence provided to IDFI reveals that the letter which was sent by the Administration of the President to the Administration of the Government on July 14th 2014, informing the Government on not moving to the new building, was only forwarded to the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure on August 4th 2014.
The construction works continued and the topic became especially active in April 2015, when Davit Shavliashvili, the Minister of Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure informed the Prime Minister that the construction of the residence was finished, that they had contacted the Administration of the President and everything was done in accordance with standards.
As a result of the uncoordinated actions of the Executive and the Administration of the President the state budget was used for financing construction of a building, the purpose of which is still unknown after the construction. The Institute believes that unplanned spending of the budget is totally unacceptable, especially when it comes to tens of millions of GEL. Furthermore, it is important to publish costs of construction as well as annual maintenance and exploitation of both Avlabari and Atoneli residences so that the society can discuss whether building of either old or new residences was appropriate considering the economic condition of Georgia.
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