GEO

The GNCC with prospects of vague employment policy

11 July, 2017

The GNCC with prospects of vague employment policy

On June 30, the Parliament passed the draft Law on Amendments to the Law of Georgia on National Regulatory Bodies in an accelerated manner, which makes the employment policy in the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) vague and non-transparent.

According to the amendments, certain parts of the Law on Public Service will no longer extend to the GNCC. In particular, the regulatory body will be given the powers to determine the following:

  • The structure of the apparatus of the regulatory body, the staff list, and remuneration of employees of the apparatus;  
  • The main, special, and additional qualification requirements for employment in the apparatus; 
  • Procedures of selection, appointment, promotion, transfer, and dismissal of persons in the apparatus  of the regulatory body;
  • Procedures of announcement of job competitions for vacant positions, as well as procedures and terms of holding the competitions and the procedures of formation of the Competition Commission and its rules of procedure;   
  • Procedures of promotion, transfer, stimulation, and payment of bonuses to employees of the apparatus by the regulatory body.  

According to the amendments, the regulator will no longer be required to comply with the salary limits established by the Law on Public Service and will be entitled to determine the salaries of employees of the apparatus itself. TI Georgia supports competitive remuneration for public service employees. However, the GNCC has not presented enough arguments as to why the norms of remuneration of the Law on Public Service should not extend to people employed in the commission. It is necessary to explain why the duties of employees of the commission’s apparatus are extraordinary or why these employees are exposed to such a risk of conflict of interest which employees of other public agencies are not exposed to.     

The main argument in the explanatory note of the said amendments is that extending the Law on Public Service to the regulatory body would “restrict the independence of the national regulatory body with regard to the formation of its apparatus,” which, in turn, would contradict the Georgian legislation as well as the Association Agreement and EU directives.    

The aim of the Law on Public Service is to create unified and transparent standards of the procedures of employment in the public service. Considering that the Law on Public Service does not aim to restrict the independence of any agency or to strengthen the influence of government bodies on them, that it determines the general procedures of holding job competitions and contributes to the formation of professional public service and to the accumulation of experience and institutional memory in the public service, and that job competitions are held independently by the regulatory commission, the arguments presented as the basis of the amendments are vague. It should also be noted that the amendments only have a direct impact on employees of the regulatory commission’s apparatus, as the Law on Public Service does not extend to members of the commission, i.e. decision-makers in the regulatory body, anyway.         

It is noteworthy that the initial version of the draft law, which extended only three articles of the Law on Public Service to employment in the national regulator’s apparatus, was far vaguer. These articles provided for the obligation to hold job competitions for vacant positions, which in fact entirely removed the GNCC from the scope of the Law on Public Service. TI Georgia sent its remarks and opinions regarding the said amendment to the relevant committee of the Parliament as early as at the time of the parliamentary discussions of the initiative. The Parliament took into consideration those remarks of TI Georgia which coincided with the remarks of the Procedural Issues Committee and rejected the others.    

Against the background of the non-transparent employment policy of the GNCC, the protracted process of reorganization, and alleged cases of nepotism about which TI Georgia has also written before, we believe that these amendments will increase the likelihood of introduction of a vague employment practice in the commission, pose a danger to the publicity of the process of employment in the regulatory body, and increase the risk of nepotism.  

Overall, the amendments to the law set an incorrect precedent. Removal of the regulator from the scope of the Competition Commission, provided for by the Law on Public Service, with the aforementioned arguments might encourage other public agencies to apply to the Parliament with the same initiative, which will cause a considerable damage to the principle of unity of the public service. The policy of the public service should be consistent and it should not be based on the initiatives of individual organizations.