GEO

Assessment of Activities of Parliament of Georgia of the Ninth Convotation

25 July, 2018

In the framework of the parliamentary monitoring program, Transparency International Georgia presents the Assessment of Activities of the Parliament of Georgia of the Ninth Convocation’s First Year, which covers the time period from November 18, 2016 till December 31, 2017.

 

The following positive trends have been observed during the reporting period:

Legislative process

  • Unlike previous convocations, no plenary session was thwarted due to the absence of a
  • quorum[1]
  • The government presented the legislative plan twice
  • Unlike Parliament of the previous convocations, the Gender Equality Council is more active

Exercising oversight

  • Representatives of the executive branch attend committee sessions and present periodic reports on their activities. Committees held 133 sessions in this regard. Deputy Ministries mostly attended the sessions
  • Parliament started reviewing the government reports on the state of enforcement of the decisions/resolutions made against Georgia by the corresponding committee of the United Nations Organization and the European Court of Human Rights
  • The involvement of civil society in the election of public officials has been strengthened:for example, the candidacy for the post of the Public Defender was selected based on consultations with the civil society representatives.

Exercising oversight

  • During the first year of Parliament of the Ninth Convocation, MPs were more active in proposing legislative initiatives. During the period covered by the report, 92 MPs exercised this right[2]
  • Parliamentary opposition (minority, Faction National Movement) boycotted the work of the Parliament five times and did not participate in the plenary sessions seven times.
  • The President returned the legislative initiative five times back to the Parliament with motivated remarks. In all cases, the Parliament overrode the veto

Transparency

  • Parliament’s activities to increase transparency carried out during the period covered by the report deserve a positive assessment. Specifically, the implementation of the obligations envisaged by Open Parliament Action Plan 2017 increased the number of types of information subject to proactive disclosure, namely, various information categories were added,

The following challenges were observed during the reporting period:

Legislative process

  • The situation has worsened with regard to the systematically speeding up the hearing of draft laws without good reason. Parliament fast-tracked the hearing of 111 draft laws of great importance as they concerned government changes
  • Postponing the entry into force of the initiatives, specifically, during the period covered by the report, Parliament discussed by a simplified procedure and adopted 77 draft laws[3]
  • The activities of working groups in some cases were formal and group members were not involved in the process of elaboration of draft laws

Exercise of oversight

  • MPs do not make a proper use of the possibilities of oversight over the executive branch; in addition, the Ninth Convocation has introduced a practice of holding working meetings with the executive agencies. During the period covered by the study, no investigative commission was established, even with regard to the issues as important as the abduction of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli or the beating of former Auditor General Lasha Tordia
  • Requests for statistical information continued to constitute a large part of questions posed by MPs. The use of this mechanism of oversight by MPs is not related to the oversight over the fulfilment of the government programme by the executive branch or other important issues of public policy
  • For almost a year, Parliament was unable to staff the Group of Trust which has a power of
  • special oversight over the [defence and security] sector
  • Parliament does not monitor the legislative plan presented by the government

Accountability of MPs

  • During the very first year of Parliament of the Ninth Convocation, 2,119 instances of missing plenary sessions with provision of admissible excuse were recorded – of these, MPs indicated family circumstances as an excuse in 1,430 instances, which amounts to 68 percent of absences with provision of admissible excuses;
  • Like in Parliament of the previous convocation, there were many instances during the period covered by the study when MPs violated the norms of ethics, including with participation of representatives of the executive branch and yet Parliament has not adopted a Code of Ethics for MPs to this day;
  • MPs fill out asset declarations incorrectly, failing, in some cases, to indicate company shares that they own. Several MPs also hold positions of company directors.

 

Important legislative amendments adopted by the Parliament

The report assesses the legislation adopted by the Parliament. Laws that were assessed as positive are the following: Amendments Resulting From Ratification Of Istanbul Convention, Changes In The Procedure Of Submitting Asset Declarations, Amendments To Imprisonment Code, Abolition Of Simplified Electronic Tenders, Initiative On Banning Smoking Tobacco. Legislative amendments, which require improvement, are the Third Wave of Judicial Reform, Road Safety Reform, New Regulations Concerning Remuneration In Civil Service. The report also negatively assesses several legislative amendments, such as creation of operative-technical agency, moratorium on selling of land, abolition of self-government entities, new rule for staffing election commissions, changes to the rule of debating legislative proposal.

 


[1] In Parliament of the Eighth Convocation, 10 sessions, including two extraordinary ones, were thwarted due to the absence of a quorum.

[2] In Parliament of the Eighth Convocation, 79 MPs exercised their right to propose legislative initiative.

[3] Parliament of the Eighth Convocation fast-tracked the hearing of 437 draft laws; Parliament of the Ninth Convocation fast-tracked 213 draft laws in the first year alone. However, there were 12 instances when the request for fast-tracked hearing was not granted.

 

* The report was prepared by the financial support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs