Transparency International Georgia’s Report on “Parliamentary Control in Georgia” covers the assessment of the parliamentary control mechanisms envisaged under the new Rules of Procedure during the 2019 spring session.
The assessment of the exercise of parliamentary control has demonstrated an improvement of the legislative guarantees and practice of parliamentary control. In spite of the progress, the accountability and responsibility of both the Members of the Parliament and Members of the Government in the process of parliamentary control remains a challenge.
The research identified the following positive trends and challenges on parliamentary control were identified:
- The Members of the Government are actively participating and answering questions during the interpellation and Ministerial Hour. During the reporting period, five Ministerial Hours were held (Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Maia Tskitishvili, Minister of Environment and Agriculture Levan Davitashvili, Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani, Minister of Defense, Levan Izoria and Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia). Three Members of the Government, the President of the National Bank and the Public Defender (Giorgi Gakharia, Mikheil Batiashvili, Maia Tsikitshvili, Koba Gvenetadze, Nino Lomjaria) stood before the plenary session through their own decision, while 20 questions were sent to accountable bodies under the interpellation rule.
- Members of Parliament are more active in exercising their right to pose deputy questions. During the reporting period, 36 MPs addressed 464 written questions to the accountable bodies, out of which 416 were answered;
- The factions are actively using the right to summon Members of the Government and accountable bodies to the committee sittings. During the reporting period, the factions summoned 32 accountable bodies to the committee;
- The factions are actively using the right to summon Members of the Government and accountable bodies to the committee sittings. During the reporting period, the factions summoned 32 accountable bodies to the committee, while the committees made 10 summons.
- 9 thematic inquiry groups were established in the Parliament, which prepare reports and recommendations;
- As a result of amendments to the legislation, there has been an increase in number of committee hearings of accountable bodies before the Parliament;
- The role of the opposition in the exercise of parliamentary control is not properly defined and provided for by the law.
- In the exercise of parliamentary control, MPs do not demonstrate a high level of independence. Due to this, parliamentary control does not address all the major issues of that are of high concern to the public and the outcome of the control are ineffective;
- Members of the Government and other public officials accountable to the Parliament do not take parliamentary control seriously, e.g. Ministers do not respond to deputy questions in a timely and complete manner (48 out of 416 questions were not answered and 119 were delayed), parliamentary factions made a total of 32 summons during the reporting period – 20 summons were ignored and the public officials did not attend the session.
- Parliamentary oversight over the security sector remains weak, which is conditioned by the limitations of the legislation, restricted mandate of the Group of Trust, as well as lackluster human resources;
- The Parliament does not use all of its control mechanisms, such as the right of factions to summon accountable public officials to the legislature or requesting the Prime Minister to submit a report on the fulfillment of individual parts of the state program;
- The parliamentary committees do not always review the reports of accountable bodies within the timeframe established by law and do not adopt the respective findings. The deadline for deliberations and presenting findings has been delayed on a number of occasions without any justification;
- The transparency of the parliamentary control process is a challenge. For example, the website does not present information on all of the thematic inquiry groups, information related to parliamentary control is searchable in a non-systematic manner, and specific information on the website cannot be retrieved;
- Members of Parliament, both the representatives of the ruling party and the opposition, should not exercise parliamentary control mechanisms for their narrow party purposes and instead they should use parliamentary oversight in regards to matters of high public importance;
- It is necessary to increase the role of the opposition in the process of parliamentary control. It is advisable for at least one committee chairperson role be reserved to a member of the opposition. In order to avoid politicized decision-making in the process of appointing heads of bodies accountable to Parliament, consultations with opposition factions should be made mandatory and the consensus decision-making should be outlined in the Rules of Procedure;
- Accountable bodies and Members of the Government should facilitate the complete and effective exercise of parliamentary control, to take into account the parliamentary scrutiny procedures outlined in the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure in good faith and responsible manner;
- There should be provisions in the legislation that outline response mechanisms in cases when a Member of the Government does not participate in the exercise of parliamentary control. If a person accountable before the Parliament does not provide answers to written questions, if the deadlines for replies are not met, the committee should raise the issue in the agenda and the Minister should be obliged to appear at the committee sitting. Monetary sanctions, along with political responsibility, could be introduced in this regard;
- Parliamentary control over the security system should be strengthened. A Permanent Supervisory Board of Experts should be established with the committee tasked with the control of the state security, which will exercise permanent control of the State Security Service and be accountable before Parliament;
- The Parliamentary committees were required to review the reports of bodies accountable before the Parliament within the timeframe established by law;
- It is important for the Parliament to monitor the public agencies’ implementation of the recommendations of the State Audit Office and to discuss these matters in detail at the sitting of the Budget and Finance Committee;
- The format of the Ministerial Hour should not be limited to the implementation of the governmental program and should instead cover all of the pressing issues of the respective Ministries;
- Debates should be held after the Prime Minister's annual and extraordinary report, as well after the Ministerial Hour;
- It is recommended to have interpellation once a month. It is also advisable to resume the interpellation on the next day if many questions have been put forward;
- The procedures for summoning a Member of the Government and another official accountable before the Parliament should be simplified. According to the current rules, only a majority of the members of the committee can summon an official in a compulsory manner within two months of the said official having already appeared before the committee. It is recommended to reduce this time restriction from two months to one month;
- A centralized recording system should be established on the Parliament's website to provide information and statistics on how Ministers and other public officials have responded to summons requests; the committees should provide timely and complete information on parliamentary control to all interested stakeholders.