Where should the line be drawn between a government official’s personal wealth and his or her public responsibilities? Amidst promises to use his own cash to stimulate business investment, compensate storm victims and prop up the state budget, billionaire Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is making any distinction ever blurrier.
Since becoming prime minister in October 2012, Ivanishvili has repeatedly announced plans for three, new government-run investment funds: a $2-billion sovereign wealth fund, an agriculture fund and a venture capital fund. The first would control state assets like the railway and the Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation; the second aid Georgia’s ailing agricultural sector; and the third provide public investment for new business.
At the same time, Ivanishvili also has discussed a plan to become one of the investors in a private equity fund that would likewise invest in Georgian businesses. The private equity fund would be different than the government-run funds, but Ivanishvili’s tendency to speak about all four funds together has raised expectations that he will also finance part of the sovereign wealth fund.
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