The Assessment of the Performance of the Parliament of Georgia in 2018
In the framework of the parliamentary monitoring program, Transparency International Georgia presents the Assessment of the Performance of the Parliament of Georgia in 2018, which covers the time period from January 1, 2018 till December 31, 2018.
The following positive trends have been observed during the reporting period:
- In 2018, the number of requests for fast-tracked draft laws saw a decline. During the first year of the 9th convocation of the Parliament (time period from November 2016 – December 31, 2017 is implied), 213 draft laws were heard through a fast-track procedure. There were 180 such requests in 2018;
- Compared to the previous year, the instances of deferral of putting laws into effect were decreased. The Parliament used simplified procedure to hear and adopt 77 draft laws in 2017, while in the reporting period only 11 draft laws were registered for a simplified procedure (9 initiators were the MPs and 2 – the government);
- The number of parliamentary committees with an annual plan has increased. In 2017, 7 committees out of 15 had an action plan published on the parliament’s website, while in 2018 the number of parliamentary committees with an action plan increased to 18;
- The Legal Issues Committee was the most active parliamentary committee, which held 58 sessions, heard a total of 593 draft laws, presented 13 legislative initiatives and expressed opinion on 355 draft laws;
- The Parliamentary Budget Office and the Gender Equality Council drafted a methodology on the gender analysis of legislation; The Gender Equality Council actively worked on new legislative initiatives.
- The Parliament adopted a new Rules of Procedure, which significantly improved the mechanisms for parliamentary control;
- A temporary investigative commission was established by the request of the parliamentary minority. This was the first case in the 8th and 9th convocation when a temporary investigative commission was set up by the request of the parliamentary minority. Notably, there were 6 requests to set up a temporary investigative commission in 2018;
- The establishment of a thematic research group in the Committee on Environmental Protection and Natural Resources was a significant step for exercising the oversight function. During the reporting period, the thematic research group atmospheric analyzed the air condition in Tbilisi.
- The number of deputy questions increased during the reporting period. 40 MPs sent out 482 written questions to accountable bodies and public officials in 2018 (25 MPs sent 182 questions in 2017)
- Compared to the previous year, there were more instances of accountable persons summoned to faction sittings in 2018. In 2017, 11 summons were made. In 2018, this number grew to 21, however the summoned persons did not show up for any of the sittings; the faction sitting summons were most frequently ignored by the Minister of Finance, Ivane Machavariani, and Minister of Internal Affairs, Giorgi Gakharia.
Openness and Transparency
- People with disabilities can move freely in the Parliament’s building and adjacent territory;
- Audio recordings of plenary sessions are published on the parliament’s website;
- The Parliament conducted a self-assessment report, which was a commitment under the 2017 Open Parliament Action Plan.
Challenges During the Reporting Period:
In addition to the specific challenges identified in the work of the Parliament, it is important to note issues related to the cooperation of the Parliament and the civil society. Public officials in the Parliament, especially Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chairperson of the Parliament, has made numerous aggressive statements against the non-governmental sector. Attacks against the non-governmental sector damages the democratic development of the country. This problem was recognized by the U.S. Department of State’s Report on Human Rights Practices in Georgia that was published in 2018.1
- Neither the ruling party nor the opposition have used parliamentary control mechanisms for exercising effective oversight, instead they have mostly used it for party interests;
- The majority of deputy questions are still related to the request of statistical information. The Members of the Parliament do not use this parliamentary control mechanism for the control of the fulfillment of government programmes or other important issues connected to public policy;
- The composition of the Group of Trust was not full during the reporting period;
- Representatives of the Executive Government attended the sessions of the parliamentary committees and periodically presented activity reports. Deputy Ministers and heads of agencies were the ones who mostly attended the sessions;
- The Parliament did not carry out monitoring of the law-making action plan presented by the Government.
Accountability of the MP
- During the reporting period, the participation of the MPs in the sessions was a problematic issue. In spite of the fact that there was a decrease in the number of justified absences from plenary sessions, the number of absences due to family issues is still high (There were 1430 absences in the first year of the 9th convocation of the Parliament. There were 1500 absences in 2018);
- During the reporting period, the MPs violated the parliamentary code of ethics. However, these violations were not followed by the respective response mechanisms envisaged under rules of procedure;
- Since the start of the 9th convocation of the Parliament (including 31 December 2018), the following MPs haven’t used their right of speech: Levan Bezhanidze (Majority), Ruslan Gajievi (majority), Elguja Gotsiridze (Majority), Makhir Darzievi (Majority), Mukhran Vakhtangadze (Majority), Tsotne Zurabiani (Majority), Giorgi Totladze (Majority), Edisher Toloraia (Majority), Zaza Kedelashvili (Minority), Shalva Kiknavelidze (Majority), Giorgi Kopadze (Majority), Teimuraz Kokhreidze (Majority), Ioseb Makrakhidze (Majority), Samvel Manukiani (Majority), Savalan Mirzoevi (Majority, Gela Miqadze (Faction "Georgian Patriots"), Enzel Mkoiani (Majority, Roman Muchiashvili (Majority), Tamaz Naveriani (Majority), Koba Nakopia (fraction "National Movement"), Ramaz Nikolaishvili (Minority, Independent MP), Dimitri Samkharadze (Majority, Azer Suleimanovi (Faction "National Movement"), Giorgi Gviniashvili (Minority), Goderdzi Chankseliani (Majority), Archil Khabadze (Majority), Pati Khalvashi (Majority), Irakli Khakhubia (Majority), Tengiz Khubuluri (Majority), Victor Japaridze (Majority).
Important legislative amendments adopted by the Parliament
The following laws should be assessed positively: New Rules of Procedure of the Parliament, Amendments to the Law on Violence Against Women And Family Violence, Code of Ethics, Electronic Petitions, etc.
The legislative amendments that require improvement are the following: legislative initiatives on the “Fourth Wave” Reforms, Law on the State Inspector Office, etc.
The following laws have been assessed negatively by the report: Pension Reform and the amendments to the financing of political parties, which allows parties to receive budgetary funding even if one MP is elected through the majoritarian system.
Following the presentation of the report, Transparency International Georgia will hand out prizes in the following nominations:
- Most active MP -Eka Beselia
- Most active MP in plenary sessions from the parliamentary minority - Zurab Tchiaberashvili
- Most active MP in plenary sessions from outside the majority and minority factions - Roman Gotsiridze
- The author of most deputy questions -Khatuna Gogorishvili
- Most active parliamentary committee - Legal Issues Committee
- Innovative committee on parliamentary oversight - Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Committee
1Department of State’s Report on Human Rights Practices in Georgia (see: https://bit.ly/2WxjscO).