Importance of Parliamentary Oversight (MP's questions)
One of the main constitutional functions of the Parliament is oversight of government activities. Transparency International Georgia’s (TI Georgia) assessment of the performance of the Georgian Parliament has highlighted the main issues and recommendation in this regard.
There are several reasons for the ineffectiveness of parliamentary oversight in Georgia: ineffectiveness of legal oversight mechanisms, lack of experience in exercising parliamentary oversight, and low political culture of Members of Parliament (MP) and members of the executive government.
MP questions are one of the major mechanism of parliamentary oversight. According to Georgian law, MPs have the right to ask a question to government bodies that are accountable to the Parliament, which are then obligated to provide an answer within a legally defined deadline. A group of at least ten members of the Parliament or a Parliamentary Faction shall be entitled to apply with a question to any body accountable to the Parliament, the Government, a particular member of the Government the latter being obliged to answer the raised questions at a sitting of the Parliament. The answer may become a matter of discussion of the Parliament
MP questions and answers are considered public information; however, they are not being published proactively. On July 17, 2015, the Georgian Parliament adopted the 2015-2016 Open Parliament Action Plan, which has included TI Georgia’s recommendation and has obligated the Parliament to proactively publish statistics related to MP questions and answers on its website. The obligation is in force from September 2015, until September 2016.
TI Georgia examined the MP questions and answers accumulated by the 8th convocation of the Georgian Parliament (period from November 2012 - 23 September 2015) . We analyzed the information received from the Parliament’s Organizational Department to try to determine the effectiveness of MP oversight, identify their issues of interest, and the thoroughness of the provided answers.
The following problems have been identified:
Unlike the legislative bodies of developed European countries, Georgian MPs rarely exercise their right to ask questions. Since 2012, during the 8th convocation of the Parliament, 27 MPs have asked a total of 405 questions.
Georgian MPs rarely take interest in the implementation of the government program, or other important issues of public policy. MPs of the 8th convocation of the Parliament have not asked any questions related to Georgia’s integration and cooperation with NATO and the EU.
MPs mostly ask questions related to specific construction permits and import items. MP questions are rarely related to issues of effective executive governance.
Most answers provided by government members are incomplete and signed not by the addressee minister, but by department heads or employees responsible for releasing public information instead. When the question is asked by an MP representing the parliamentary minority, some ministers send their answers to the chairman of the Procedural Issues and Rules Committee instead of the author of the question.
- Legal mechanisms of holding government members responsible for violating the procedures of providing answers to MP questions are not being implemented in practice.