Assessment of the Performance of the Parliament of Georgia in 2019

03 August 2020

Within the framework of its parliamentary monitoring activities, Transparency International Georgia assessed the performance of the Parliament in the period covering January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2019.

2019 was a year of active political events and turmoil. There were a number of notable events throughout the year, which has led to public outcry. Parliamentary proceedings were carried out against the background of public protests. Due to various political confrontations, the composition of the Parliament changed; a number of MPs left the parliamentary majority, which has resulted in the breakdown of the minority as per the rules of Procedure. Moreover, the parliamentary opposition actively used the boycott mechanism during the autumn session. These events have all affected the regular functioning of the legislature.

The following positive trends were identified during the reporting period:

Legislative process

  • More MPs used their right of initiation - In 2019, 118 MPs exercised their right to initiate legislation, while in 2018 that figure stood at 93;
  • There were less fast-tracked initiatives;
  • The action plans and reports of the committees are largely systematized and developed according to a single standard, which is published on the parliamentary website;
  • More remarks on draft laws were made by MPs and committees.

Parliamentary Control

  • The new Rules of Procedure has had a positive impact on the strengthening of parliamentary control mechanisms, the establishment of new tools and the improvement of existing ones;
  • New mechanisms for parliamentary control have been established, including interpellation and a ministerial hour, with members of the government actively attending plenary sessions and answering questions; interpellation was held 5 times the ministerial hour – 9 times. The PM participated in the most interpellation;
  • In comparison to previous years, the use of the deputy questions has increased significantly, 41 MPs sent 925 written questions in 2019;
  • The mechanism for summoning officials by parliamentary factions has been substantially improved and made more effective, although a host of the problem still remains. In 2019, accountable persons were summoned 46 times, in 21 of which the official did not attend the committee meeting for an unjustified reason;
  • 21 thematic inquiry groups were set up to prepare reports and recommendations.

Accountability

  • There were fewer instances of absences from plenary sessions - There were 1200 cases of justified absence from plenary sessions in 2019.

The following MPs missed the most plenary sessions on unjustified grounds:

  • Dimitri Samkharadze (Majority)
  • Ruslan Gajiev (Majority)
  • Ivliane Tsulaia (Majority)
  • The mechanisms of accountability for absences established after the entry into force of the new Rules of Procedure were actively used; in particular, 25 MPs had a 10% salary cut in 43 cases due to unjustified absence from plenary sessions. 22 MPs also received a 10% salary cut in 33 cases due to unjustified absence from committee sittings.

The following challenges were identified during the reporting period:

Legislative Process

  • There is a growing trend of the extension of dates of discussion of draft laws - In 2019, 388 draft laws (111 legislative initiatives) had their dates of discussions extended 252 times;
  • During the reporting period, the submission of reports on the activities of the committees was postponed. Namely, in 2019, seven out of fifteen committees submitted a report on the activities of the previous year to the Parliament with a delay of several months;
  • The Gender Equality Council has not discussed the legislative initiatives of the Gender Equality Initiative. The Council still has no chairperson;
  • The Parliament has not adopted a methodology for the financial impact of the draft law, which constitutes a violation of the law;
  • The Board of Trustees of the Budgetary Office has not been set up, therefore it does not submit activity reports.

Parliamentary Control

  • Members of the Government and other officials accountable to the Parliament shall not be held accountable for the exercise of control by the Parliament, e.g. Ministers do not answer deputy questions in a timely and complete manner (139 out of 925 questions were not answered);
  • The limited periodicity of interpellation (two times per session) entails the risk that the issue brought up will lose its relevance before the interpellation is carried out. With the interpellation procedure, the number of questions increases, but the time allocated to the procedure decreases. As a result, important issues may not be thoroughly discussed;
  • Although the procedure for establishing a temporary investigation commission was made simpler, and there were high public interest cases for which to establish such a commission, no discussion was carried out in the plenary session for setting up a parliamentary temporary investigation;
  • The Parliament did not carry out the monitoring of the legislative action plan that was presented by the Government.

Accountability of Members of Parliament and fulfillment of obligations established by law

  • Despite the adoption of the Code of Ethics, the composition of the Ethics Council has not yet been established, which undermines the importance and implementation of the Code of Ethics;
  • During the reporting period, it has still been a challenge to obtain accurate and timely information from parliamentary committees and the bureaus of Majoritarian MPs.

Number of Speeches my MPs at Plenary Sessions

  • Despite the increase in MPs who make speeches, 21 MPs did not use their right to a speech during the reporting period at all. These MPs are the following: Irakli Abuseridze (Majority, Majoritarian MP), Levan Bezhanidze (Majority, Majoritarian MP), Ruslan Gajiev (Majority, Majoritarian MP), Makhir Darziev (Majority), Mukhran Vakhtangadze (Majority, Majoritarian MP), Zaza Kedelashvili (Faction European Georgia), Teimuraz Kokhreidze (Majority), Ioseb Makrakhidze (Majority, Majoritarian MP), Samvel Manukyan (Majority), Enzel Mkoyan (Majority, Majoritarian Member of Parliament), Giorgi Mosidze (Independent Member, Majoritarian) Roman Muchiashvili (Majority, Majoritarian Member of Parliament), Ramaz Nikolaishvili (Independent Member), Ruslan Poghosyan (Majority), Dimitri Samkharadze (Majority), Erekle Tripolski (Majority), Goderdzi Chankseliani (Majority, Majoritarian MP), Archil Khabadze (Majority), Irakli Khakhubia (Majority, Majoritarian MP), Elguja Gotsiridze (Majority, Majoritarian MP), and Viktor Japaridze (Majority).

Openness and Transparency

  • The question of gaining entry into the building of the Parliament and participating in the sittings remains a subject of debate. Citizens, journalists, and MPs have repeatedly been denied entry to the building of the Parliament. It should also be noted that representatives of NGOs were not allowed to attend the presentation of the annual report of the Parliament;
  • The new website of the Parliament is yet to be launched. This is an ongoing commitment under the Open Parliament Action Plan.

Assessment of the legislative amendments adopted by the Parliament

  • The following amendments are amongst the positively assessed legislative amendments: Initiative on Sexual Harassment, Code of the Rights of the Child and Law on Mediation
  • Legislative amendments that need improvement: Institutionalization of the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA), Establishment of the National Security Council, New Law on Labor Safety and Initiative related to the Procedures of Selection of Judges;
  • The following amendments have been assessed as negative in the report: in the rules of liability for the violation of the submission of public asset declarations, the extension of the scope of application of covert investigative actions to all types of official misconduct and the new regulations on the Sale of Agricultural Land to Foreigners

The following was revealed in terms of participation in 2019:

  • Rati Ionatamishvili, the most active MP (initiator of most draft laws)
  • The most active participant of plenary sessions from the parliamentary majority - Anri Okhanashvili
  • The most active participant of plenary sessions from a faction outside the majority (opposition) - Eka Beselia
  • The author of most deputy questions - Sergi Kapanadze
  • The Legal Issues Committee as the most active committee

 

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